In 1976, a number of flower vendors set up shop in a busy area beside Dangwa Tranco in Sampaloc, Manila. Now, more than 40 years after the famous Dangwa Flower Market was opened, the market has grown to its current size of over 100 vendors. Even large flower importers have set up shop here, and its fame has surpassed that of competitors in Manila, Quiapo, and Baclaran.
To date, business in Metro Manila’s flower epicenter is, literally, always in full bloom.
Narciso T. Cansino Jr., also known as Bhoy Maring or Boy Red Horse, is a witness to the blockbuster success of Dangwa. First entering the business around the same time as when the market first opened, the 62-year-old’s day-to-day life is filled with an explosion of bright reds, pinks, and oranges, and the lovely scents of roses, stargazers, and orchids.
“Dati akong kargador ng Dangwa,” he recalls. “Bumubuhat ng mga bulaklak noong araw, panahon ni Marcos. Ang binubuhat ko ‘yung gladiola, ten kilos.”
He tried learning the art of flower arrangement by simply watching others. “Ngayon ako na ang pinupuntahan ng tao para mag-arrange ng bulaklak. Tsaka mas malaki ang kita ko dito. Ngayon 40 years na akong nasa ganitong trabaho.”
Cansino is the current president of Dangwa Flower Arrangers Association (DFAA), and has been occupying the position for years now. He does arrangements for birthdays, weddings, wakes, and undas, finishing five pots in 10 minutes and one bouquet in just five minutes. Some of his customers come from as far as Tagaytay, Baguio, and Zambales—most of them commissioning him for wedding projects.
Other than flower arrangements, he also makes ribbons for ribbon cutting ceremonies.
“Kung anong pinagagawa ng customer, gagawin ko. Lahat ng gusto nila masusunod.”
A typical day for Boy Red Horse
Boy Red Horse starts his day with a cup of coffee. “Alas sais pupunta na ako ng Dangwa para mag-hanapbuhay.” He then brings his customers to the billiard saloon owned by his parents. “Diyan ko sila dinadala para hindi magulo, hindi mainit. Hindi sila mahihirapan. Doon pwede silang umupo habang nag-aarrange ako,” he says. “’Pag nagmamadali naman sila, dito na mismo sa gilid ng kalsada ko gagawin.”
At 9:00 in the morning, he sleeps, and wakes up at lunch to eat. “Itutuloy ko ulit ang trabaho pagkatapos ng tanghalian, tapos matutulog ulit ng alas tres. Hanggang gabi na ‘yun,” he shares. During his free hours, he keeps an eye on their billiard saloon and spends his time on another one of his vices: OTB or off-track betting.
It’s different during the month of love, however, as he starts work at 5:00 in the morning.
“Magdamag ‘yan. Gawa ka nang gawa. Minsan lang sa isang taon yan,” he explains. During off-peak, he services around 20 customers in a day. And during Valentine’s Day, he services around 50 to 60 customers.
When asked about his daily income, the 62-year-old says that it depends on the season. “Hindi pare-parehas. Minsan matumal. Tuwing Pebrero kumikita ako ng kinse mil hanggang February 14.” The pay is significantly far from what flower shops earn, which can add up to millions collectively.
The challenges of being Bhoy Maring
But aside from the unsteady income, Bhoy Maring says he also faces a lot of other challenges as a flower vendor.
“’Yang mga fixer, number one ‘yan,” he warns. “Marami ‘yan dito kapag February. Tatanungin ka nila kung magpapagawa ka, tapos lalapit sila sa isang pwesto, kunwari kanila. Pero hindi nila pwesto ‘yan. Bibigyan ka ng resibo, magbabayad ka, pag binalikan mo wala na sila.”
Often, he also encounters customers who cancel orders. He recounts that he once had a customer who ordered 13,000 pesos worth of leis. “Rose ang pinalagay, eh mahal ‘yun. Tapos kinancel.”
That’s why he advises buyers to pay for flowers on the day itself.
“Pera lang ‘yan. Palamuti lang ‘yan. Walang mangyayari sa buhay mo kung puro pera lang ang iniisip mo."
A florist with a big heart
Cansino is known among his peers as a generous fella in the flower capital of Metro Manila, often referring customers to other flower arrangers in the area.
“Gusto kong makatulong sa tao. Mahirap ‘yung lahat sayo, eh. Give and take. Kasi ‘pag mabait ka sa kapwa mo, babalik ‘yan sayo.”
Bhoy Maring’s big heart and huge generosity come from his drive to earn friends for life.
“Wala na kasi akong asawa. ‘Yung anak ko naman may sariling pamilya na,” he says. “’Yung asawa ko nag-Japan, hindi na bumalik. Ni hindi ko alam kung nag-asawa na eh. 30 years na rin.” Ironically, he recounts that he met his wife in this very same place, where the woman also once worked as a vendor.
“Ngayong nag-iisa na lang ako, linggu-linggo umiinom ako. Kaya Boy Red Horse ang tawag sa akin,” the 62-year-old explains.
“Tsaka dati salbahe ako,” he winces. Boy Red Horse often got into fistfights, and even forced would-be members of DFAA to pay 1,500 pesos as a membership fee. When asked what made him change, he says, “Nagsisimba na ako.”
According to Boy Red Horse, he’s happy with the job he has and the life he lives. “Hindi ako nagsasawa. Paggising mo kalikot ka lang nang kalikot. Pag napagod ka, uwi ka na, papahinga ka na.”
“Pinaka-proud kong nagawa sa buhay ko, ‘yung madami akong natulungan.” He says that he has taught many to become flower arrangers, and has even given them the opportunity to make money of their own. “’Yung iba nasa abroad na.”
Nowadays, he has nothing else to ask for other than good health, a longer life, and more people to service. Like the flowers he sells on a daily basis, all he wants is to provide a colorful sense of happiness to those who need it the most.
For orders, inquiries, and more information about flower arrangement, look for Bhoy Maring at Dimasalang St. corner Dos Castillas St. You may also contact him at 09109048505.