Kudos! Parañaque street vendor earns praise for juggling college and work

Freedom Mendiola dela Cruz. Photo: Dennis Gorecho/FB
Freedom Mendiola dela Cruz. Photo: Dennis Gorecho/FB

Many Filipino students have been struggling with blended learning, but some try their best to make it work. One college student has even taken advantage of the situation by juggling school and earning a living.

Meet Freedom Mendiola Dela Cruz, a sophomore physics student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). Dela Cruz has been earning mad praise since his photo went viral early this week, where he is seen studying while selling his wares along a busy Parañaque City street.

Wrote lawyer Dennis Gorecho, who took the photo, “He was doing online classes while selling stuff like face masks/shields. His name is Freedom Mendiola Dela Cruz , a second-year physics major from PUP. Good luck, kiddo.”

Read: At least 90% of learning modules distributed to Filipino teachers as schools reopen

In an update to the post, Gorecho added that Dela Cruz was named “Freedom” because his father, who is also a vendor, was an activist. Dela Cruz earns a gross of PHP500 (US$10.40)each day.

“Physics is a pre-med [school] course for him as he hopes that he will be able to proceed to medical school and specialize in [treating] children. He often visited hospitals because he was always sick,” Gorecho said in his post, which has been shared almost 400 times.

Coconuts Manila spoke to the 20-year-old Dela Cruz on the phone who said that he sells face masks, face shields, and socks while attending his classes virtually at PUP. He sells his wares every day from 6:30am to 7pm. Gorecho saw him working, then asked him a few questions and took his photo.

“[Before the pandemic] I used to go to school and stay in a dorm. Going to school [and learning online] are different because, in a classroom, you can easily learn skills. I was waiting for my module and studying [when my photo was taken],” Dela Cruz said in English and Filipino.

Read: What do airplanes sound like? Filipino mom confused by child’s school module

He plans to proceed to medical school after graduation, preferably at the University of the Philippines Manila. He didn’t expect that his hard work would lead to online fame.

“After I woke up, a friend told me that I have gone viral. It was surprising,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he wants face-to-face classes postponed until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. The Department of Education implemented blended learning as an alternative, but the method posed almost insurmountable challenges for both teachers and students.

Do you know of other working students? Tell us about them by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila. 


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