52-year-old Gimmy Panis Conos, known as Tatay Gimmy online, touched the hearts of many after being spotted by a netizen giving free taho (soy pudding) to encourage people to subscribe to his channel after seeing the potential of YouTube to help in his daily and medical expenses.
His story went viral after being re-shared by 20 year-old Mary Amoguis, who was pleasantly surprised with how her simple act of reposting made a difference. Mary’s post built awareness to Tatay Gimmy’s channel which gained more than 280,000 subscribers.
However, shortly after the channel started to gain subscribers, Tatay Gimmy temporarily lost access to his channel after losing his mobile phone. Mary was quick to assist in putting up a new channel and promoting it, but she also did not stop reaching out to various resource people who can help in recovering Tatay Gimmy’s original YouTube channel. Her unending kindness and persistence paid off and led her to work with a concerned netizen from Samar who was able to help. Together, they were able to successfully retrieve access to Tatay Gimmy’s original channel.
The journey to YouTube
Tatay Gimmy moved from Tacloban City, Leyte to Manila to look for better employment opportunities. He worked in construction for five years while living alone since his family chose to stay in the province. When age and illness caught up with him, he started selling taho for a living despite having diabetes and rheumatism.
In 2019, Tatay Gimmy recovered from a mild stroke and eventually went back to the streets to continue selling taho. Even before having a YouTube channel and giving away free taho in exchange for subscribing to it, he has been giving them to street children before going home after a whole day of selling.
He shared, “Napansin ko na madami talaga ang apektado sa pandemic at kung paano makatulong. Kailangan ko na din makauwi para hindi maabutan ng curfew kaya pinamigay ko ng libre ang taho.” (“I noticed that there were so many people affected by the pandemic and thought about how to help. I also needed to go home before the curfew so I decided to give my taho for free.”) This happened when Metro Manila was under General Community Quarantine.
Moved by his gesture, one of his customers encouraged him to upload his video on YouTube to inspire others. With the help of his neighbors, Tatay Gimmy signed up to YouTube and uploaded his first video of himself sharing taho with kids.
The habit of helping others
Mary Amoguis, an accounting student from General Santos City, South Cotabato, has a habit of sharing and reposting online calls for donations. After being touched by Tatay Gimmy’s story, Mary posted his photo which was retweeted by influencers and celebrities including TV variety show host and social media sensation Maine Mendoza. Mary continued, “Matagal ko na siyang ginagawa just so I can help in my own little way, pero this is the first time na ganito karami ang nag-share ng post ko. I am so happy na pinost ko ‘yun, baka it will have a longer effect sa pagtulong sa kanya financially.” (“I’ve been doing it for a long time just so I can help in my own little way, but this is the first time that these many people shared my post. I am so happy I posted that. Perhaps it will have a longer effect in helping him financially.”) She shared that even if they weren’t proactively asking for help, many online users volunteered to extend financial support to Tatay Gimmy.
Caring for others isn’t something new for Mary who has been helping people offline. On random visits to convenience stores, she gives food to the homeless and has even bought and distributed face masks to strangers.
She admits though that the attention she’s getting for her role in Tatay Gimmy’s viral video is making her uncomfortable. However, she chose to look at its positive side, pointing out the benefits of the internet and social media: “Ang powerful talaga ng social media. Sa isang share mo lang, isang life na ang pwedeng ma-change”. (“Social media is powerful. You can change someone’s life with just one share.”)
Tatay Gimmy is wishing that it would soon be safe to go back to the streets, not just to sell taho, but also to look for more opportunities to share. As he hopes for the pandemic to end and works for his recovery, he takes comfort in the fact that we all can contribute to making the world a better place with one post, one share, and one good deed at a time.