The Lady with a Bag of Fruits

The sun was baking the town when I hopped out of the bus. I just arrived in Batangas from Manila and waited for my ride in front of a 7-Eleven store. From where I sat I could see a woman walking towards the convenience store — little by little, step by step. She was agonizingly slow — painful to watch. Under the intense heat of the sun and across the burning asphalt road, her only protection was a kerchief covering her head and a pair of wooden slippers that clanked gently as she trod

She was only three meters away when I noticed the big plastic bag she was carrying. I approached the lady and offered to carry the bag for her but she refused. She said, “Malakas pa naman ako.”

She sat beside me and opened a conversation.

“Kinse (P15) lang ito, takeng,” she said.

“Alin po?” I asked, looking at her bag.

She, then, opened the plastic bag and revealed green and purple avocados cradled in it. They were smaller than the usual avocados I see in the market.

“P15 ang kilo po?”

“Hindi, takeng. P15 itong lahat,” she clarified. “Dalawa’t kalahating kilo ito. Halos tatlong kilo.”

“Ang mura naman po,” I blurted.

“Sa puno namin yan kinuha kaya ganoon.”

I whipped out my wallet, took out a P20 bill, and gave it to the lady. She then extended her arm and handed the bag of avocados.

“Naku, wag na po,” I said. “OK lang po. Sa inyo na lang po yan.”

“Matam-is ito,” added the woman. “Tsaka hindi naman ako namamalimos.”

The woman gave me P5 change and smiled. I refused to accept the change and asked her to keep it as a tip. I encouraged her to take a tricycle to where she was going next because the heat was just unbearable.

“Sanay naman ako sa init,” her last words as she walked away. She kept the P5 coin.

A month later, while waiting for my ride, I saw that woman again. She was already standing in front of the convenience store when I alighted the bus. She had a plastic bag of Indian mangoes, this time. Like the last time, however, after I bought from her, she walked slowly not minding the harsh sunlight. She did not remember me.

Every time I waited for my ride home on a Saturday afternoon, I would always see her walking in the streets with a bag full of fruits. It was often Indian mangoes but sometimes, avocados and atis. It was always a fresh conversation with her. She never did remember me each time. She never accepted any tip more than P5.

It’s astonishing how, despite her severely bent spine and old age, she remained firm in her relentless drive to work for every single penny she earned. If my guess is right, she’s probably 80 years old. Or 90. She looked really old.

I’m not sure if she earned enough money but something tells me that in her many years in the streets, working hard, she had earned so much more, something you can’t put a price tag on.

It had been months since I last saw her show up in front of that store.


  1. =(

    It’s always sad to see old people on the streets because they have been through a lot already and don’t deserve to be working or walking down the streets selling stuff or begging for money. If I can, I try to give them food.

    In contrast, I don’t give alms to men and kids because I know they’re just being lazy or has given up. Especially those rude ones.

  2. I feel bad for the old lady, having to work at that age, but I do admire her. Unlike those able-bodied, foul-mouthed beggars I meet in the metro.

  3. Ay shet naluha ako for the old lady, I have a soft spot for old people on the street and I agree with Robbie, bwiset lang yung mga lalaki at batang nanlilimos na nga bastos pa.

  4. Awts 🙁 but I admired the old lady’s principle of working hard for every cent… strong-willed si lola ong toroy!

    On a geeky note, you can sue the men in 40s for a crime of vagrancy, but unfortunately, such law was just decriminalized 5 days ago which means keribels na maging batugan. 🙁 kalurkey!

  5. There was this vertically-challenged guy along Gilmore Ave. His arms & legs are either twisted or missing. He works hard every day. On certain mornings, I would see him still asleep on the sidewalk. I would see him even on rainy days. Nothing can stop him from selling Sampaguita. My heart would melt each time I saw him but what stopped me from giving him anything is that I would always drive along that street at night alone & just scared to open my window for anyone.

    Finally, I had the courage to give him a twenty peso bill for working so hard. He demanded that I give him fifty pesos. *Sigh*

    Then again, not everyone’s like that. Most of them are grateful. He’s just the most unforgettable.

  6. I admire the principle of lola. 🙂 I wonder lng if she has any family member who looks after her? Some lessons can really be learned at the foot of an elderly.

    Great posts you have here, Yoshke. Kakakita ko lng sa blog mo few seconds ago, and I was reminded again to continue blogging (dahil mukhang nilalangaw na nman blog ko lately). he he..

  7. Bilib talaga ako sa mga matatanda na kahit sa edad nila at medyo nahihirapan na sa paglalakad or kumilos nagpupursige pa rin kumayod. Yung iba nga dyan bibigyan mo ng piso nagagalit pa. Wala na raw mabibili sa piso.

    At last nka comment na rin ako dito palagi ko kasing binabasa blog mo. Lalo na yung Promil Kid paborito ko yun. =)

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