Student launches fund drive for 80-year-old apron vendor

Published October 7, 2020, 1:18 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

An 18-year-old student from Caloocan City is helping an 80-year-old apron vendor through a fund drive to help him tide over the crisis.

(Photo courtesy of Diana Lao)

Since he started his drive on Oct. 1, AJ Mirandilla said several individuals and organizations have reached out to extend assistance to the octogenarian vendor Romie “Tatay Romie” Gaa.

Tatay Romie has so far received grocery packages, fruits, vegetables, kilos of rice and wheelchair. From the financial assistance entrusted to him, Mirandilla said, they were also able to buy a mobile phone for Tatay Romie’s family and a pocket WI-FI for his four grandchildren who are attending online classes.

(Photo courtesy of AJ Mirandilla)

“May mga pumupunta na rin po ng bahay nila para mamakyaw ng aprons nila (There are also people going to his house now to buy all their aprons),” Mirandilla told Manila Bulletin.  They  also plan to make some renovations on Tatay Romie’s house, courtesy of donors. 

As of Wednesday, Mirandilla said, they already generated some P50,000 a week since launching the fund drive.  He has also been making daily updates on his Twitter account for transparency.

How it started

When Mirandilla saw a Facebook post made by Diana Lao asking for help for Tatay Romie on Sept. 29, he immediately reached out to the former to ask if she knew his house.

“Sabi ko po parang kilala ko to. Lagi kong nadadaanan sa overpass kapag pumapasok (He [Tatay Romie] looks familiar because I usually see him at the overpass on my way to school),” the student said.

(Photo courtesy of AJ Mirandilla)

Mirandilla found Tatay Romie’s house in Camarin on October 1 and after finding out what he needed, he launched a fund drive on Twitter.

Since then, Mirandilla said, they have been going to Tatay Romie’s house everyday to bring him various assistance from several individuals and organizations.

Tatay Romie

Tatay Romie is usually seen at the footbridge in Zabarte Road in Caloocan, selling about a hundred aprons under the heat of the sun.

Before the lockdown, Mirandilla said, Tatay Romie was joined by his 70-year-old wife, Corazon, and would reach provinces as far as Laguna to sell their aprons for P50 each.

They do this to support their son — whose only means of livelihood is raising and selling pigeons — as well as four grandchildren, who are all minors.

(Photo courtesy of AJ Mirandilla)

Following the crisis and the lockdown due to COVID-19, Tatay Romie’s income significantly dropped.  He did not also get any assistance from the Department of Social Welfare’s Social Amelioration Program since his family is already receiving aid under the 4Ps program, Mirandilla added.

Pushed into dire straits, Tatay Romie still ventured into the streets during the lockdown to help his family despite being vulnerable to the virus.

Mirandilla said Tatay Romie is beyond grateful to all donors who have extended assistance to him. For those who want to help Tatay Romie may reach Mirandilla through his Twitter account @ajmirandilla_ or cellphone number 09151675506.