Juggling homework and sampaguitas: 2 brothers’ nightly routine at an overpass

By Anjo Bagaoisan

Boy Sampaguita vendor Marlon Mendoza sits at a walkway in Quezon City studying while selling (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

For Marlon Mendoza, a walkway over one of Quezon City’s busiest roads is as good a place to study as a table at home.

After his Grade 5 classes at a school in Brgy. San Antonio, the 11-year-old commutes south with his younger brother Melvin, aged 9, and their mother to the area of two big malls in the Q.C. north triangle.

Their “mama” Rochelle, 37, brings a lunch-box-sized cooler. In it are roughly a hundred mini-garlands (up to P2,000 worth) of sampaguita flowers commonly worn on Catholic saints and hung on rearview mirrors.

The three divide the flowers among themselves and part ways. Rochelle usually sits on a sidewalk in North Avenue. The boys–still in their blue school uniforms and wearing plastic rosaries on their necks–climb up different walkways.

Sampaguita vendor family Rochelle and her sons Marlon and Melvin prepare to sell their flowers at an overpass (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

 

Once Marlon sits on the floor of an overpass along EDSA connecting a mall and a call center, he lays out his share of sampaguitas in front of him, opens his bag and brings out one of his books, a notebook and a pen.

Passers-by never fail to glance at the boy finishing his homework while selling his mother’s sampaguitas for his daily allowance.

Sampaguita vendor Marlon Mendoza at an overpass in Quezon City (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)


“Sobrang halaga sa akin ‘yon para makapagtapos ako (It’s really important for me so that I can finish my studies),” Marlon says of both elements of his nightly routine.

He has gained admirers far more than the number of people who pass him by each night, many of whom are rushing to catch their rides home. Few know their names, only as the boys hunched over a book on an overpass whose images have inspired thousands on social media.

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