Dream-chasing vendor sashays his way from hectic streets to the grad stage
Text: Deneb R. Batucan
Images: Kurt Fick
HIS clothes may be flamboyant, if not mismatched, but these are not what defines the man. Nor is the flowery headdress that surrounds his smiling face — plus a huge flower tucked under his ear — or the bold lip shade he wears. No, this is just the facade of a multifaceted human being who has become the epitome of how hard work, diligence and honesty can get you far in life.
Jay Kummer “Dodoy” Teberio is the famous bottled water vendor that has become a local celebrity in his own right. His remarkable life has been featured in various media, spreading inspiration and good vibes to everyone whom his story has touched.
To say that his journey has been difficult is quite an understatement. Dodoy and his family hail from Northern Samar. Life in Samar was harsh. His father was a fisherman while his mother washed clothes for a living. He helped out by selling a variety of vegetables, fish and wood. In 2006, it was especially hard for their family in Samar because of typhoon Milenyo. So when Dodoy was 12 years old, they decided to come to Cebu to try their luck.
Coming to Cebu was a new life for the Teberio family. His parents set up a small store along the crossing of A. Soriano Ave. and Juan Luna Ext. selling candies, junk food, cigarettes, etc., for commuters and drivers who pass along that road.
When Dodoy’s father suffered from a heart condition, he was advised to stay home and not do a lot physically. That’s how Dodoy became a bottled water vendor to help his mother out. But Dodoy was determined to do the job his way. If he was to sell water, he would do it with the Dodoy trademark.
When he was in first year high school, he started to wear a costume as he sold bottled water on the streets. “Kinahanglan makuha nato ang attention sa mga taw. Bisan di unta mupalit, mupalit nalang tungod nako (I need to get the people’s attention. They end up buying because of me),” Dodoy said. “Mao na gitawag nga effort (That’s what you call exerting effort).”
If Dodoy’s makeup and colorful costume aren’t enough to grab people’s attention, his dance moves and lively greetings to commuters would. This was what made people talk about him. Not only does Dodoy help to quench their thirst, but he also helps them forget, even for a second, about the many woes in life through his big smile and happy demeanor. No wonder he was dubbed as the “Tubig Queen.”
Dodoy works hard because he wants to turn his dreams into reality. “My dream is to become a teacher someday, unya akong pamilya ma-ahon nako sa kahirapan, ug naa ko’y carenderia with entertainment. Mao ra na. Simple lang (I want to lift my family out of poverty, then set up an eatery with entertainment. That’s all),” he said.
One of these dreams is nearing its completion. Dodoy graduated last March 15 with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of Cebu. It’s one step to his dream to become an educator. All his hard work has led to this momentous occasion, and he is nothing but happy.
All these didn’t come easy, of course.
Being a working student, Dodoy’s day was jammed with activities from sun up to sun down. Sometimes, during days when sales weren’t too good, he would go to school with just enough money for the commute.
“Ganahan man gyud ko muskwela uy. Di ko ganahan wala’y klase (I really wanted to go to school. I don’t like not attending classes),” he said. “Mu skwela gyud ko, bahala’g gutom. Muskwela gyud para makahuman (I go to school even if I’m hungry. I was bent on finishing school).”
With a love for learning, Dodoy persevered, selling loads of bottled water to fund his dream to be a college graduate.
Being eclectic and different, Dodoy has his fair share of detractors — some commuters would say he’s crazy within earshot — but he takes it in stride. Not that it doesn’t affect him. “Usahay masakitan ko, magkadugo. Joke ra (Sometimes when I’m hurt, it gets bloody),” he said, laughing.
“Usahay maghilak ko pero di nako ipakita sa akong pamilya. Sa CR ra ko maghilak, didto nako ipagawas tanan. Ganahan ko ipakita nga strong ko (Sometimes when I’m crying, I hide my tears from my family. I cry in the toilet and, there, let everything out. I want to show them that I’m strong).”
Despite these kinks, the people whom Dodoy has moved and inspired are countless.
Aside from the various features in all sorts of media exposure, Dodoy has won awards, including the Mayor’s Special Award for inspiring the youth to get a college diploma despite life’s struggles. He also got a full scholarship for his review for the Licensure Exam for Teachers, which he will take some time in September. A teaching post is also waiting for him at his high school alma mater, Mabolo National High School.
Things are definitely looking up for Dodoy. And this is just the beginning. “Ang kapobre di gyud babag aron di ta maka skwela. Ug naa gyud ta’y mga pangandoy, we need to fight for it, laban lang ng laban, wag susuko and trust yourself and especially God (Poverty is never a hindrance to getting an education. If we have dreams, never give up),” he said.
A day in the life of Dodoy
5 a.m. – Wakes up every school day at five in the morning to get ready for school. “Akong lawas murag alarm clock,” he said. He takes a bath, eats breakfast, then helps his mother open their small store along A. Soriano Ave. and Juan Luna Ext.
7:30 a.m. to 12 noon – Classes start nonstop until lunch time. He always gets the earliest classes since he works in the afternoon.
1 to 3 p.m. – Rushes to the store. There, he does his makeup, slips into his costume, then starts his whole routine selling bottled water in the afternoon sun (or rain).
3:30 p.m. – Rushes back to school for night classes. Sometimes he goes to class still wearing a bit of makeup, which he can’t wash off because of the rush.
4 to 8 p.m. – Night classes
8 p.m. – Goes back to the store to help his mom sell some more bottled water.
9 p.m. – They close the store and head home.
16 – Number of hours daily he spends working and studying on weekdays
100 – Number of bottled water he sells per day on average
Style: Madison Vilar
Wardrobe (for the teacher look): Burton Menswear
Locale: University of the Visayas New School (UVNS)