MANILA - A student who sold dishwashing sponges to pay for his schooling took the time to visit his loyal buyers to thank them personally.
While most children were busy playing with toy cars and dolls at 8, Melvin Chua was knocking at people's doors to sell dishwashing sponges.
For 14 years, Chua roamed around the streets of Makati and reached as far as Taguig and Bicutan in Paranaque City, peddling P5 sponges to pay for his studies and help his mother with their living expenses. He usually earns around P300 to P500 a day, he said.
“Nilalakad ko lang po talaga papunta at pauwi para nadadaanan ko lahat ng pwede bentahan,” he told ABS-CBN News.
(I walk to and fro so that I can meet everyone who would be interested to buy.)
Aside from dishwashing sponges, Chua said there was also a time that he peddled coloring books, vegetables, hand towels, and underwear.
In his selling ventures, Chua gained the trust and loyalty of housewives, street vendors, and home owners who saw him grow from a scrawny young boy carrying a huge plastic bag to a refined professional.
“Karamihan po sa kanila kilala lang nila ako sa itsura ko na may dalang malaking plastic bag na maraming sponges pero lahat po sila malaki ang utang na loob ko,” he said.
(Most of them just know me by how I look, that I carry a huge plastic bag filled with sponges, but I have gratitude for all of them.)
This year, the 22-year-old’s hard work finally paid off as he was able to obtain his Bachelor of Science in Office Management degree from the University of Makati.
“Hindi lang po pang-tuition ko, pati na rin po pag may mga project at pambaon ko po dun po talaga ako umaasa sa paglalako,” he said.
(It’s not only for my tuition, I also rely on income from selling sponges to pay for projects and for my daily allowance.)
With his recent achievement, Chua did not forget to take time to personally thank his loyal customers or “mga suki.”
Last Tuesday, after his graduation practice from school, Chua decided to pick up his bag of dishwashing sponges and do his usual selling routine.
But this time instead of just peddling goods, Chua brought the news of his graduation to his customers around Makati.
“Medyo mangiyak-ngiyak nga po ako nun kasi 'yung mga suki ko po wala pa akong sinasabi tinatanong na nila ako sa graduation ko. Sinasabi nila sa mga kaibigan nila na ga-graduate na ako tapos puro congrats po sila sa akin,” he said, noting that one customer who sells barbecue on the streets even offered to pay for his dinner.
(I was teary eyed then because my customers were already asking me about my graduation. They were telling their friends that I was graduating and were congratulating me.)
The fresh graduate also took time to show his gratitude on social media, in the hopes that it will reach his customers from his younger days around Bicutan.
“Kaya rin po ako nag-post sa Facebook kasi di ko po sila lahat napuntahan nung Tuesday kaya sana mabasa nila na salamat po. Salamat talaga,” he said.
(I posted on Facebook because I wasn’t able to visit all of them last Tuesday. I’m hoping they saw my post because I really want to thank them.)
As of posting time, Chua’s message on Facebook has gone viral with over 10,000 shares.
Chua recalled how his sponge business aided him throughout his schooling and how despite having a regular job now, he still plans to sell sponges during weekends.
“Kahit nagtatrabaho na po ako, masaya pa din po akong magtitinda hindi nga lang palagi na pero babalik at babalik ako sa kanila para kumustahin sila at pasalamatan may paninda man po akong dala o wala,” he said.
(Even if I already have a regular job, I will still sell sponges. I will always visit my loyal customers to know how they are doing and thank them even if I no longer have goods to sell.)
Chua, who now works as an operations specialist in Bonifacio Global City, said he hopes more student vendors like him would always have a grateful heart despite life’s challenges.
“Kahit ano man 'yung hirap at mga dumating na problema sa buhay, lagi sana tayong tumingin dun sa mga taong tumulong sa atin,” he said.
(No matter how difficult and challenging life is, let us be grateful to those who helped us along the way.)