Waway drives people around in his red, rusty pedicab. He rents it from a pedicab operator for 35.00 pesos a day.
He was introduced by a landlord when we moved in to the compound. I was wary of him because he was so skinny, dark and he smelled. He looked like a pot-smoking hobo in pedicab. He still does.
I took this picture about a year ago for a personal project. He was very self-conscious when I asked to take his picture. My husband and I just got back from a morning appointment and we were in a hurry to get back home. It was a very hot, glaring day.
Before getting off the tricycle I asked my husband if it was okay for me to be taking Waway’s picture. We were a few meters away from the compound and I could see Waway in his pedicab by gate, his usual parking spot. My husband said I should take Waway’s picture. It may be my only chance for his picture. When we got off, there were no tenants around.
“’Way, I’d take your picture.”
“Now?” He straightened his body, surprised.
He failed at faking confidence. 10 seconds it took to adjust my camera.
The midday sun was too bright and for split second i thought of cancelling it.
If people without homes in first world countries live in their cars, Waway lives in his pedicab, or at least that’s what most people said about him. They said he was from Aklan. They said he came to Iloilo in the 90's. He doesn't bathe. He wears the same set of clothes every single day, until they're not fit to be worn anymore. He smokes menthol cigarettes and never drives right after a meal ("It will give me appendix" -- he meant, appendicitis), also, when there is a Pacquiao fight. He never seems to get sick. He uses a tattered cap to protect his head.
We have a handful of caps that the boys at home do not use. And clothes that Waway could use. But I don’t think he wants people to feel sorry for him.
One weekend afternoon, arriving from art class, I told him I already have a print of his photo. He just smiled and said, “Do I look handsome?”
“Of course, you do.”
He smiled and went to pick up a hailing passenger.