Sam, the Coconut Man Thursday June 20, 2024 EDT 
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Sam the Coconut VendorJuly 16, 2009

Sam, the Coconut Man

Coconuts remind me of the days when I'd buy about 20 to fill up a gallon of coconut juice for my ex having a bout of UTI. I've always been curious about the coconut vendors. They spend the rest of the day pushing this heavy cart on uneven streets under the scorching sun. How much money do they make? How many mouths would they feed?

Fast forward to now, as I was having lunch in a carinderia (poor man's restaurant), a coconut vendor was seated across my table having his early lunch. It was my golden moment to take his time for an interview.

Name: Sam Laroa
Company: self-employed
Job Title: buko (coconut) vendor
Daily Average Pay: P200.00
Daily Routine: Sam doesn't own the cart or the coconuts. From his residence in Antipolo, he commutes to Kruz na Ligas in QC to get his cart full of 50 coconuts. He then pushes his cart around the neighborhood selling his buko at P18/piece. This price includes labor. He chops them just enough to expose the white meat, inserts the straw and when the juice is consumed, he breaks the coconut shell into 2, scrapes the meat and puts them in plastic.

At the end of the day, he returns the cart and unsold buko to the owner, and pays P12 for every coconut sold, thereby earning P6 per buko. A regular day is about 35 bukos sold. From his average take home earining of P200/day, he feeds his 2 children. His income is augmented by his wife who works in a store.
Unique Challenges: Sam is not allowed to sell in some areas, like the municipal grounds, or to be pushing his cart along national roads. On 4 occassions given his 10-year stint as a vendor, his entire cart and buko inventory were confiscated by either the MMDA or the City Hall officer. He never got them back. Some cops extort buko from him too from time to time. One buko for every cop. So if he gets stopped by 5 cops, he's out 5 bukos. Asked if the neighborhood tough guys bully him into giving out buko, he said, that doesn't happen since he knows how to befriend them ("....marunong naman ako'ng makisama").

Ending Thoughts
Sam added that when he serves rich people who hand him a P20 bill and says, "Keep the change", it really makes his day. That's P2 to make someone's day...not bad. Next time you feel like buying bottled water at P20 a pop, how about thinking buko instead? Fresh natural juice, coconut meat with all the bundled nutrients. You'd do yourself a favor...and Sam.

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

(Jul 19, 2009) ..nag-enjoy ako sa write-up mo kay Sam, buko man. Apir! More readings of such material inspire us more.

Arnel Royo
(July 16, 2009) Nice article on Sam. These are the stories that we need to tell, and hear. Simple math beyond the complexity of life?


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