A 9-year-old boy is ignoring health protocol restrictions prohibiting children from leaving their homes just so he can save some money for a cell phone gadget he needs in school by selling street food.

John, not his real name, said he decided to start selling chicharon and sweet rice balls or karioka since Puerto Princesa relaxed its strict quarantine. His target is to save enough money to buy a smartphone that he can use for distance learning.

John said he wanted to help his parents raise the money he needs to buy the gadget that he can use when classes begin.

“Ngayon lang ako nagtinda, ngayong nag-lockdown. Gusto ko lang (magtinda). Si mama ko sa palengke, dalawa lang kami (magkapatid), maliit pa yon siya. Si papa nagtatrabaho, sa construction,” he said while his gray face mask is on, beside him is a plastic container and a plastic bag.

“Nagpaalam ako sa barangay. Diyan ako nakatira sa lola ko tapos uuwi ako sa Linggo,” he said.

John said he stays with his grandmother Mondays to Saturdays and goes back to his parents in Barangay San Jose during Sundays.

He performs his routine selling chicharon and karioka in two areas in Brgy. San Pedro from around lunchtime until the afternoon. At night, he will accompany his grandmother to sell balut.

John says he sets aside his income as savings.

“Minsan nasa P100 (kinikita), minsan P70. Pambili ko kasi ito ng cellphone para sa may module, Grade 3 na ako ngayon,” he said.

John said that to protect himself from catching the virus outside, he is wearing a face mask, and maintains a distance while selling.

“Mahirap (magbenta), mahirap maglakad-lakad baka mahawa. Hindi na po ako magbibenta kapag nakabili na ako, ‘yong Samsung na maliit. Magda-download ng module,” he said.

He said that so far he has already earned P300 from selling and promised that he will stop once he saves enough to buy a phone. He added that his mother is also helping him to save money so he could prepare himself once the classes open this August.

John said that he dreams to be an engineer but he cannot yet go to school for face-to-face classes due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Marami na rin sasakyan na bumili sa akin, minsan bumibili sila ng chicharon o kaya balot,” he said.

Aside from John, there are other four children about his age selling around the San Pedro area to earn during the time of the pandemic.