By ALDWIN G. QUITASOL
“This is my ancestral land, inglis diay kunam man!” said Manong Jojo Ribaya on Peoples Park. According to him, he was born and grew up here in Baguio City. He was born on April 20, 1965. His father who he never saw was a US marine and his mother is a Bicolana. He is the youngest among the 12 siblings.
MANG JOJO. Photo by Aldwin Quitasol
He sells flowers as a means of living. He pays P1,000 for three stalls to the Barangay of Malcolm Square. His flowers price ranges from P50 to P200 depending on the size and kind.
He starts selling from seven in the morning until late night. And sometimes, he sleeps there in the park. “Kapilitan a ditoyak maminsan a maturog ta isu pay a pagplete” (I have to sleep here sometimes to save money.)
Everyday, he observes a lot of people sitting or walking in the park. He watches the many activities and programs staged by a variety of groups in the park.
Asked where he got the word “ancestral land”, he said he heard it from one of the activists’ rallies.
“Araw-araw, marami akong naririnig sa mga programa dito sa park. May mga natutunan akong salita, yung sa mga rali ng mga aktibista. Mga dapat ipaglabang karapatan. Tama lang ang mga iyon dahil masama ang mang-api sa mga kapwa. (I hear a lot everyday from the programs here in the park. I learned some terms, from the rallies of the activists. Rights that should be fought for. Those are just because it is bad to oppress your fellowmen).
Jojo said that his life is the park, this is where he found friends. “Dito na ako tatanda at mamatay”. (I will spent the rest of my days here). #