MANILA - Selling lollipops in the streets of Angeles City is a 78-year-old man who has charmed his customers with a smile as sweet as his candies.
Angelito Gino-gino, or known to the students of Angeles University Foundation as "Lolo Pops," spends hours selling colorful lollipops on the sidewalk.
His products are mainly for kids, and in a place for grown-ups, there seems to be little space for the lollipops of an old man.
This, however, does not stop Gino-gino from spreading the good vibes his candies bring. More than the sweets, it's his sweet smile that endears him to passersby and customers, some even return to visit him even after graduation.
Gino-gino started working as early as 12 years old, when he would sell things to help his parents.
He became more interested in earning money than studying, that he dropped out of his accounting course in college.
"Para bang nadaig 'yung aking pag-aaral sa paghahanapbuhay ko. Parang, 'Aba, masarap, may kita na ako. Maganda 'yung kita ko kahit papano.' 'Yun pala, hindi pala ayos," Gino-gino said.
Despite not finishing his studies, his childhood spent thinking of ways to earn proved useful, whenever he is out to sell in the streets.
According to Gino-gino, he stays positive to attract customers.
"'Pag halimbawa, hinahalukay, okay lang. Okay lang. Hindi katulad ng ibang kasamahan ko, kapag hinalukay, 'Pag nabasag mo 'yan, bayaran mo 'yan.' Mga suplada ang dating. 'Kako, hindi. 'Kako, 'pag sinupladahan mo 'yun, 'yun ang pag-asa natin," he said.
This positive demeanor helped him gain several friends, who often give him food and aid him by buying his products.
LOVE FOR PACITA
Gino-gino, already 13 years past the senior citizen status mark, still sells lollipops to support his wife, Pacita.
The couple has been together since 1979, a union that broke off Gino-gino's relationship with his first wife, and estranged him from his children.
"Itong pangalawa ko, dito ko nakita 'yung talagang pag-aalala sa akin. Ito namang pangalawa kong ito, bulag 'yung isang mata ba. Kawawa, ulila naman. Parang nakonsensiya ako," Gino-gino said.
Despite the hardships, Gino-gino never regretted his decision. He found his muse in Pacita, his lifetime source of happiness and love.
Pacita's presence brought back sweetness to Gino-gino's life, inspiring him to continue providing for his wife despite his age.
It is their mutual care and concern for each other that has kept their relationship strong for more than three decades.
Four years ago, half of Pacita's limbs were paralyzed, making it difficult for her to move.
"Palibahasa noong nagsusuka't patis pa kami, naglamay siya ng paghuhugas ng bote. Kinabukasan, sumakit ang ulo niya. 'Pag dating niya sa ospital, inineksyunan siya. 'Pag dating niya sa kwarto, 'di na siya makakilos," Gino-gino said.
"Minsan natatakot ako, una kong naaalala itong Mahal ko. Paano na siya 'pag ako nawala? Sino kakong mag-aano sa kanya? Kawawa naman," he added.
Gino-gino's old age is catching up with him, but he remains steadfast, knowing that his beloved Pacita has no one to rely on but him.
"Umaano ako, na ako, dagdagan pa 'yung aking lakas, para kung ako magkakaroon ng diperensiya, kawawa naman si Mahal ko, ang asawa ko," Gino-gino said.
Gino-gino's love for Pacita and their grandchildren inspires him to continue spreading smiles and happiness with each lollipop he sells.
*Watch his story on Mukha, which airs on ANC every Wednesday, 6 p.m. with replays on Thursdays, 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; Fridays, 3 a.m.; Sundays, 5:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.