CAGAYAN VALLEY, Philippines- Hanschavit Aquino was once an ice cream vendor when he was a little boy. Now, he is representing Cauayan City, Isabela to a national male pageant, hoping to make a name for himself despite poverty.
It wasn’t a choice for Aquino to sell ice cream on the streets then. Their poverty made him decided to help his mother in their financial needs.
“Nagbenta po ako ng ice cream noong bata ako para matustusan po namin ‘yung pangangailangan namin ng mama ko saka pandagdag baon na rin po ‘pag pumapasok sa school,” Aquino said.
His mother’s income from accepting laundries was barely enough for them.
Aquino never met his father since he was born. He never had the chance to meet him, and even to know his name.
“Ilang beses ko na pong tinanong sa kanya pero ayaw po niyang sabihin,” Aquino said, relating how his mother persistently refused to tell him anything about his father.
“Hindi ko po nakilala ang tatay ko since birth ‘yung mama ko naman po nakikilabandera lang po sya, [kaya] nagdesisyon din po akong magtrabaho para matulungan ko po yung mama ko sa mga gastusin,” he added.
Hopes to finish college
Aquino is now 18 years old, but he is still in 8th grade in Cauayan City National High School next school year.
He said he had stopped for four years then because of poverty. It was during those years that he worked as ice cream vendor.
He came back to school last year, but said he might stop again and just take a vocational degree.
“Last year po [nag-enroll ako ulit] pero ngayon po, baka titigil na po ako at magte-TESDA na lang po ako,” Aquino said.
Despite this, he said he still hopes to finish a college degree “if given a chance.” He wants to take Business Administration, major in Marketing, and build his business someday.
His perseverance has earned him admiration from some of his townmates in Cauayan.
Joan Dumelod said she was proud to see how Aquino has became from a little ice cream vendor to a pageant candidate.
Dumelod said she frequented to buy from Aquino to somehow helped him financially.
“Ikaw na ba ito’ng batang naglalako sa amin ng ice drop ice cream nuon. Nakakatuwa po ang batang ito, bumibili ako sa kanya lagi nuon para makatulong sa kanya,” Dumelod said.
“Nakita ko din siya noong awarding ng honor student sa [Cauayan City] National High School. Congratulations para sa amin ikaw na ang panalo. Huwarang bata dapat tularan…you are indeed the Man of the Philippines,” she added
Joining pageant competitions
His bid for the Man of the Philippines 2018 was his first time in a national pageant. But this is not first time he joined competitions.
He said he had already won a title in a barangay pageant in Cauayan City.
Last February, he placed first runner up in the Search for Mr. and Ms. CAVRAA (Cagayan Valley Regional Athletic Association) in Tuguegarao City, besting other young candidates from around the region.
Aside from being first runner up, he also bagged awards such as Mr. Photogenic, Mr. Physique, Mr. Congeneality, Mr. JL Travel and Tour, Best in Smile, Best in Sports Wear, Best in Jeans Attire. and Best in Barong.
Aquino said he was joining pageant competitions to earn money, and to promote his advocacy.
“Naisip ko pong sumali ng pageant para may pandagdag po sa financial namin ng mama ko, at yung pag sali ko po sa Man of the Philippines ay para mai-promote po ‘yung advocacy ko, [which is] education for less fortunate,” Aquino said.
He added that he is also dedicating this competition to his “proud” mother.
“Sobrang nagpapasalamat po ako sa Panginoon na binigay niya sa akin si mama, na napakabuting tao at ina. Simula noong bata po ako, siya na po yung tumayong ama sa akin kaya sa kanya ko po inaalay ‘tong laban ko na ‘to,” Aquino said.