- July 27, 2022 10:28
By Yuichi Desquitado and Brit Charles Quevedo
"Magkano po?" — the typical phrase asked by most Tamaraws living on a reasonable allowance. Since every peso should be well worth spending for every splurge, Gimmy Panis Conos, also known as Tatay Gimmy, and his free taho will surely get us through the days of thrift.
Who would have thought that Tatay Gimmy’s generosity would turn into something greater—a commitment while providing his necessities?
The staple soybean pudding, taho in Filipino, turned out to be Tatay Gimmy’s primary source of living. In the streets of Manila, the 54-year-old is seen to be giving away cups of taho without expecting anything in return.
A sweet fill
Taho does not only warm and fill your stomach, but it is also a goodie filled with health benefits.
These healthy perks from Hello Doctor PH justify the hype and fame taho has been receiving, even becoming a staple food of Filipino cuisine: (1) taho lessens the risk of breast cancer and heart diseases, (2) neutralizes the body's cholesterol level, (3) reduces the risk of Osteoporosis, (4) prevents the chances of Type 2 Diabetes, (5) helps in cleansing the liver and (6) decreases the possibility of memory loss.
The dessert-beverage has come a long way before being the popular drink it is today. In history, taho was adapted from China during the Han Dynasty (200 A.B.). Even its name 'taho' was derived from the Chinese word 'douhua' meaning 'soft soybean pudding'.
His sweet beginnings
Hailing from the island of Leyte, the bachelor Tatay Gimmy, was born on May 21, 1968. Coming from an economically challenged and broken family at an early age, he was not able to finish his elementary education. As a young boy, he lacked the money to buy a uniform for his graduation.
As he was walking astray and aimlessly, he begged cafeterias to feed him in exchange for his unpaid dishwashing service as his only goal before is to fill his stomach adequately.
With reservations and fear of having no official documents with him, he later braved into a construction labor job in 1985, earning him 45 pesos a day.
Tatay Gimmy was on the brink of giving up as he felt that the construction job was not really for him. It was when he met a friend who sells taho and asked him how much he was earning in a day.Enticed that he can earn a bigger profit through his 100 pesos capital, Tatay Gimmy quickly left his old job after the contract expired and started his path as a taho vendor.
A taho for every belly
In 2019, Tatay Gimmy had a mild stroke and was diagnosed with diabetes, rheumatism, and arthritis. Despite numerous ailments, he continued his selling and giving of taho when he felt better to sustain his maintenance and living.
During the troubling times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tatay Gimmy witnessed the endurance of queuers for free rapid testing in Manila City.
As he sympathized with the dedication of the people waiting in line, he gave out free taho to everyone as he wanted to at least have their stomachs filled with something warm.
April 10, 2022, is a normal day for Tatay Gimmy to give out free taho, but he did not reckon the overdue blessings he will receive from that day and onward. Mary Christine Amoguis, an accountancy student at the School of Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, Inc. in General Santos City, shared a post about Tatay Gimmy’s generosity and her call to support Tatay Gimmy’s YouTube channel.
Many have resonated with Tatay Gimmy’s act of selflessness, which started the pour of many blessings and donations towards Tatay Gimmy, yet not every man will forever be free from turmoils and challenges.
Tatay Gimmy’s phone, which contains the login credentials of his YouTube account, was snatched, which halted his source of income temporarily. But with the help of many kind spirits, such as Jazz Curious, Mary Amoguis, and his unnamed nephew, they were able to retrieve the original account last April 19, 2021, and Tatay Gimmy was back on track with his taho vendor/vlogger career.
The weight of generosity
In his two decades of being a taho vendor, Tatay Gimmy’s day starts at 4 o’clock in the morning as he and his colleague need to create their own arnibal (caramelized brown sugar) to match their taho.
Once finished and prepared, Tatay Gimmy follows his usual route, starting at Luneta Park. He will then go to Baywalk, Manila City Hall, Far Eastern University (FEU), University of Santo Tomas, then Adamson University.
In some moments during his day, he will be streaming live on his YouTube channel as he vends his warm and sweet taho to people he will encounter
Sometimes, he will be giving out free ones as long as they will subscribe to his YouTube channel, Tatay Gimmy.
‘Free taho for a subscription’
Due to his health concerns, Tatay Gimmy started his YouTube channel after being persuaded by one of his customers as an alternate or extra source of income.
He posted his first video last February 10, 2021, featuring him giving out free taho to young customers in exchange for their YouTube subscription.
Surprisingly, just after 20 videos, Tatay Gimmy is about to be entitled to monetization and the Silver Play Button (awarded to channels with 100,000 subscribers) on YouTube.
On June 24-25, 2022, Tatay Gimmy posted videos of him receiving his first salary from YouTube and using it to pay his debts and needs.
Until now, Tatay Gimmy had persisted in vending and giving out his delicious warm taho to different people he will encounter in his life. As of writing, Tatay Gimmy has approximately 378,000 subscribers.
Warmth of giving
In an interview with one of his customers, Geryk Joseph Palisoc, a Tamaraw Nursing freshman, told some of his experiences upon meeting Tatay Gimmy.
"We found Tatay Gimmy in front of the FEUture Center Building after our classes ended. I was shocked to learn that he was giving taho without charge. Taho typically costs 5 to 20 pesos, so when Tatay Gimmy said it was free, I was puzzled (Nakita namin si Tatay Gimmy sa harap ng FEUture Center Building pagkatapos ng klase namin. Nagulat ako nung nalaman kong namimigay siya ng libreng taho. Kadalasan, 5 to 20 pesos ang taho tapos nung sinabi ni Tatay Gimmy na libre lang, nagulat ako),” he shared.
Another thought of Palisoc talked about was the responsibilities and limitations as a customer of Tatay Gimmy.
"Despite the excitement of receiving free taho or getting something for free in general, in my opinion, we shouldn't take advantage of people's generosity. Let us not forget to be nice to one another, even in little ways (Kahit na masayang makakuha ng libreng taho o makalibre, sa opinyon ko, hindi dapat natin samantalahin ang kabaitan ng iba),” he said.
To be in a world full of negativity, maybe all we need is that sweet and warm taho to make it a better place even little by little. Despite the money that Tatay Gimmy has been earning daily, the generosity and humanity remain to be his greatest possession of all—in spite of all the struggles and hardships a simple vendor like him goes through. Making people smile does not cost anything in return, it is priceless; it is indeed libre.