Every day as I walk along the street of Nueva in San Pedro Laguna, I would always see people from different ages engrossing themselves into what they call—sampaguita market. Often I would see Styrofoam where hundreds if not thousands of sampaguita buds, Ylang-ylang and Camia flower are stored and stuffed with ice. Just like what fish vendors are doing, sampaguita dealers too take extra care of their products so it would be in a guaranteed fresh state.
On the same side of the street were stores selling “abaca” strands in a varying prices ranging from 100 up to 130 pesos per kilo. These strands are necessary as it is one tool to twine Sampaguita, Ylang- ylang and Camia into a necklace.
Astounding as it is, seeing people doing this kind of peculiar trade; I find myself in awe on how they managed to profit from a business viewed and received unfavorably by public. Granted that it is not so popular as selling fish and meat in the market many (as in huge number) still opt to indulge in selling sampaguita garlands, making it as their source of livelihood.
I mean— livelihood because through it all it can provide a meal for their families; it can support their daily expenses and most of all can send their children to school. It takes patience (as one vendor told me) in dealing with the fluctuating price of sampaguita as it has no constancy where every day is a new price. Sampaguita flower blossoms in a certain season, expect that it is more expensive, when it’s less available. Prices as based per one scoop (half bottle of 1.5L coca cola) could range from 300 pesos as the most affordable and 600 pesos as the most expensive.
Ever wonder how these vendors earn from it with all sorts of seemingly and unbelievably high cost materials. And with just 10 pesos, you get a magnificent artwork of intertwined sampaguita buds. That’s how— as I have seen it, people from the marginalized sector of San Pedro can make use of their ingenuity.
I remember one Sunday morning after I gotten from a grueling night shift duty; I happen to drop by at San Pedro Apostol church to probably just light a candle or say a prayer when two women one of which I distinguished as a mother and the other as her daughter appeared to me earnestly asking to buy their ten peso worth sampaguita.
For some who is unaware of this trade, for some who didn’t know the arduousness behind of its “the making”, probably would beg to refuse if not, ignore the item being sold. As one who had seen the art and intricacy of garland making, who knew the efforts poured on it by those I consider as “ every day” people, who understand that it is a means to feed their families would sensitively consider buying even one sampaguita garland as a sign of help. That’s why I bought without hesitation. I fished out twenty pesos on my wallet handed it to each of them and get two circlet of flower in exchange. The two women smiled at me as if in a thankfully manner both vowed their heads.
I then went on heading the altar with that sweet-scented flower, a candle and a prayer at heart.