Prior to the pandemic, Michael Victor Hernandez of Paco, Manila was an on-call housekeeper hired by condominiums and malls around Metro Manila. He earned around P500 daily, which was enough to support his wife and three children.
All of that changed during the pandemic when the national government placed the National Capital Region (NCR) under lockdown several times. He eventually had to quit his job after losing clients.
“Itong pagsubok na binibigay sa ’kin ng Panginoon, itong ECQ, di naman siguro tayo pababayaan ng Panginoon na hanggang dito na lang tayo,” he said.
(This enhanced community quarantine [ECQ] is a challenge from God. I don’t think He will allow us to stay in this situation forever.)
Refusing to lose hope, Hernandez started a business selling snacks like palabok, halo-halo, spaghetti, pancit, turon, and fresh lumpia online.
He got a much-needed boost when he was selected as one of the beneficiaries of former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s Sampung Libong Pag-Asa program on July 16, 2021.
With his cash aid, Hernandez was able to buy his family’s basic needs and pay for their bills. He used the remainder to expand his online food business and now earns up to P600 daily.
Inspired by the vision of the 10K Ayuda Bill, the Sampung Libong Pag-asa initiative aims to provide financial assistance to the poorest of the poor amidst the ongoing pandemic. Beneficiaries receive P10,000 each for their basic needs and as start-up capital to set up their own businesses.
On Thursday, August 19, Cayetano led the distribution of cash aid to around 50 beneficiaries from Marikina, Quezon City, and Muntinlupa, bringing the program’s total number of beneficiaries to 8,761.
“Yung business po namin ngayon, mas maganda kasi online siya. Kahit mahirap na idedeliver mo sa ibang tao, mas maganda kasi mas maraming tao ang nakatutok sa page namin,” Hernandez said, adding that his business’ official Facebook page has been visited by around 19,000 users.
(Our business is doing great because it’s done online. While it’s difficult to deliver food to some people, it has its advantages because many users visit our page.)
Hernandez hopes Cayetano’s Sampung Libong Pag-Asa program will be able to help more people emerge from the crippling impacts of the pandemic.
“Laban lang nang laban. Laban lang hanggang makamtan natin ang ginhawa sa buhay,” he said.
(Keep fighting. Let’s work hard until we attain comfort in our lives.) ####