Q and A with the newsboy who is now Cardinal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 Feb) — As a young boy, Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo tried all sorts of jobs – as newsboy of The Mindanao Cross, as ice drop vendor, shoeshine boy, and town crier of sorts — to earn some extra money but his attempts at business were all failures.

“I was never a good businessman,” Quevedo told MindaNews last month, a few days after he was named by Pope Francis as one of the world’s 19 new Cardinals, the lone Filipino and the first Mindanawon Cardinal.

Here are additional excerpts from the long interview published in the February 19, 2014 issue of OUR Mindanao, the weekly newsmagazine of MindaNews.

Q:  Sir Pat (Diaz) says you are the newsboy who has become Cardinal.
A:  Sometimes they overstate my work as a newsboy. (Somebody) wrote I was selling newspapers for lunch or a meal. No naman. My parents were not rich

Q:  They were teachers
A:  They were teachers… We were never hungry but we were not rich. I remember going to school like the other classmates, barefoot going to elementary and even in high school. Those days wala naman talagang tsinelas-tsinelas eh…. Ahh, yes we had to pay for our tuition and work during summer to pay for our debts but my parents were not poor. I sold Mindanao Cross because our parish priest said “we have 100 copies of the Mindanao Cross. It costs 10 cents each so you sell them and you get five cents per paper and five cents to the parish priest.” I would  wait for all the teachers to come out because my father was the principal in the elementary school

Q: Captive market ha?
A:  Captive market, just the elementary school.  My best friend and I  would wait after mass sa Cathedral of Marbel – it was just a small church then — and sell. I was ashamed to return to Father (Joseph) Quinn, the parish priest, the unsold newspapers so I would buy them myself.

Q: Oh my God.
A:  Yeah, mahurot talaga yung 50 copies but some of them bought by me with my supposed 5 cents earnings.

Q:  Why did you do that?
A:  I was ashamed.  I was never a good businessman.  I was trying to sell ice drop (but it lasted for) one day lang because lugi man. I ate more ice drop than sold them. I also tried shining shoes. It also lasted one day. My brother and I decided mag-shine shoes ta. We made a box. Our first client was a teacher who was wearing white shoes. White shoes was already common at that time. My brother said, “this is yours. You shine this, I shine that.” Nag-shine ako. He asked, “tapos ka na diyan?” I said  “tapos na” then we put together the pair

Q: Di pareho?
A: Di pareho. My brother had this white shoe. The one given to me was brownish because I used the wrong polish. There is a polish that’s called neutral. I used the brownish polish. My brother fired me. “You go home,” he said.  He had to repair the shoe. The only successful business I was in lasted maybe one month. Every Saturday, we would go around the town with my barkada and I would hit some kind of tin can or drum and the others would carry the trailers for the movie Batman or something. “Batman now showing.” We would go around making a lot of sound and the people will look and we say “Batman o, Batman.”

Q: How much were you paid?
A: Free kami sa movie. That was the most successful. One month

Q:  Ang selling newspaper, how long did it last?
A: Whole year

Q:  So one year ka ring naga-tapal?
A: It was Saturday issue. We would sell Sunday after the mass and then on Monday I go to the teachers. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)