Every day I brought Ruth-Ann, the younger sister of Boy (Rudy) to San Lazaro Hospital after it was diagnosed that she had serious gonorrhea infection on both eyes. It was there that I learned a job was being offered for a pay of 50 centavos a day to ex-POWs to work as gardeners, planting camates and tomatoes in the hospital garden.
WORKING AS GARDENER
I applied for the hospital job and was hired. We worked the whole day under the sun. Then I had a relapse. My malaria came back and it took months for me to recover.
WORKING AS A COCHERO
Then the uncle of Pat, Col. Adolfo Eufemio, bought a horse and a caretella for passengers.
Even without any previous experience at all, I volunteered to become a COCHERO (rig driver).
Pat and I relocated to Pandacan, where my cousin, Jesus Lopez, a policeman, had an apartment under their house. My passenger route was Pandacan Paco. It took me only a month when I got sick again.
“COCHERO” is a hard job. I had to wake up very early to feed the horse before harnessing it to the rig. I had to bathe it and wash it clean after the day was done. Then I would go and cut some grass to feed it and buy corn or rice bran to supplement the food.
I drove the rig from 6:00 to 12:00, ate my dinner, then drove the rig from 1:00 to 6:00 or late at night.
Both horse and driver were exhausted after a day’s work.
Pat complained that I had a horse smell!
My getting sick was a good excuse for me to give up that dirty, dusty, back-breaking hell of a job! And my income was just good to buy horse feed and food for my family.
Fortunately, my cousin Jesus, and his wife, Mg. Komy, were very kind to us and did not charge us for rental of their apartment. Praise the Lord!