The Boy Who Cried for Books: Loosing a University but Gaining a Universe

Matalino Street, Quezon City , Philippines

I have met Mr. Justin Adriel Donato de Castro via common friend and adding him on Facebook a couple of months ago . I was looking for cheap books and a person with advocacy to share. It took several weeks of chatting and sending sms before i got a chance to met this person.


Justin is not an ordinary 19-year old teenager struggling to finish school and dreams to become a lawyer, but there are some factors like tangle of family problems.

He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder ( last year ), a manic depressive illness, after several attempts to kill himself, primarily because of the conflicts in his family.

On December 26, 2014 – a day after last Christmas, Justin ran away from home after a heated argument with his mother.

“I was forced to move out of my apartment in New Manila. I came back a few days later to get my clothes, but the lock on the door to the apartment had been changed,” he said. He started to apply at a call center,  The call center turned him down because he did not have an address. “Your English is good but you are unstable,” according to the interviewer.

L-R Ms. Nikki Kawaguchi , Mr. Justin Adriel Donato de Castro ( boy who cried for books) , Mr. Christian P.Laos ( Emilio Aguinaldo College  3rd year communication art student ) and Ms. Camillee Eloriaga (Emilio Aguinaldo College )

How did it Started?

He had P2,500 in his pocket and using Php 2,000 as start-up capital.  He decided to buy 23 bottles of pure honey, which he had been taking for quite sometime.

Wearing a loose shirt, a pair of shorts and flip-flops, surrounded by street kids from the area.

He started selling  bottled honey to passers-by along Tomas Morato street . He would budget whatever money he had by living on the street. “I started doing it out of sheer necessity. I need to survive. I have to feed myself,” he said.

Between December 27, 28, 29 , 30 and 31, 2014,  He was able to attract a number of people because of his ability to communicate , knowledge of the products and good looks!  “But it was not a hit so I had to think of something else”.

A book lover since childhood,  He thought of selling secondhand books, His first 14 books was bought last January 3, 2015 from thrift shops in Underground bookstores ( Manila Cityhall)  and Recto in Manila.

Favorite Book and Past Time

One of his favorite book is  – Paulo Coelho’s novel Veronika Decides to Die. The book tells the story of a woman who has a blissful life but decides to end it by overdosing with sleeping pills. Aside from reading books, He also loves to watch movies and hear music .

Viral and Internet Sensation

When he started peddling honey within Tomas Morato area, He already attracted a number of students and people which started to upload his photos and items in the internet and other social networking sites .

He started to re-sell the books and picked a spot under a tree in front of a coffee shop on Tomas Morato where he usually hung out. There, he spread out the books for passersby to see. But soon the guards at the coffee shop would not let him peddle his stuffs and eventually he had to moved somewhere.

He sits on one spot and calls on passersby to check his secondhand books, which are priced from P50 to P350. Since then , his story has drawn the admiration of some book lovers, who have offered to help him.

Soon, a creative consultant designed a logo for him for free, another book lover offered to set up his online bookstore and another people offered to donate their books.

Like an ambulant vendor, he hopped from one place to another where he was allowed to sell his books.  On weekends, the guards at a bank allowed him to display his books on the sidewalk. Despite being evicted everywhere, De Castro never felt belittled.

“I don’t like sympathy. I am proud that I am selling books. I’d rather sell knowledge in this country where prostitution is prevalent and where illegal drugs are everywhere,” he said.

At night, De Castro sleeps in apartelles ,open space behind his locked apartment . Now, he is staying with friends around Quezon City area.  He have moved to several places , eventually another Coffee shop along Maginhawa street hosted him for several weeks.

Why was it called ” The boy who cried books” ?

Justin explained why he came to be called “the boy who cried books.”

He said at one point after his attempts to kill himself, his father started not to take his acts seriously.

“You are like the boy who cried wolf,” his father told him, he said.

( photo : Facebook account )

Life Lesson:

He talks about 5 essential things about his new business

1.) Marketing and Advertising– How people will remember his business and branding.

A Facebook page, “theboywhocriedbooks,” has been set up for him so people will know what titles he is offering and where he can be found. There are several blogs , websites and QTV channel 11 had already featured him.

2.) Finance ( which he hates the most) Liquid cash- De Castro said he opened a bank account to save his earnings. He recounted how those 73 days in the streets changed him .  Right now, He had about  P35,000 worth of books .

3.) Accounting and Budgeting–  How to properly balance the money and recording his expenses on a notebook.

4.) Management Objectives ( how to transport the book from one place to another, not much money for renting a space )

5.) Life– He said he could never forget his father’s words. Now, he said, whenever buyers come, he asks them, “What is your wolf? What are your problems?”

“I have been selling books for 73 days now,” he said. “From 14 books, the titles have increased to almost 800 books.” He would like to return back to college and finish his degree.


“Faith in Humanity”  , ” Sharing the Happiness” and ” Selflessness”   , These are among some of his advocacies that he always share with people around him.  There are a lot of simple people who helped him when he was  peddling his book and one of them is Letlet , a small guy who help stop the cars in order for him to cross the street. That simple gestures means a lot to him.


He is currently helping another kid , Jomel ( street kid) – who used to lived around the Tomas Morato Avenue but since then, the family moved out to Pasig area. He would shell-out a couple of thousand of pesos every month to help the kid and his family .

He is also active promoting several advocates together with other cause -oriented groups .

Motivational and Inspirational Speaker:

There are a lot of schools and universities which invites him to be a motivational and inspirational speakers, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila . His only requirement is that he would be allowed to wear shorts , ordinary t-shirts and slippers.

His word of wisdom: Progress is the only Good, Forward and Creativity is the fuel , Forward is the only Direction.

group selfie


He envision a shop to be a depository of books, a space for people like him who do not have a store where they can sell and talk about books at night time there would be a space where homeless people can stay .  If the venture succeeds, He can share the space with other small booksellers.  He is planning together with some help from friends to set-up a space within Kamuning , Quezon City area.

He may temporarily loose studying in a university but what he gained is vast wealth of experience and a universal knowledge in life.

Note: For those who wanted to help this person, you can reach him via Twitter via the hashtag #TheBoyWhoCriedBooks, or visit his Facebook site. You can also contact him at 09357054087.

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