Philippine mall culture is very prominent. From one city to another, regardless of whether you are in Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao, there will always be a mall of some sort. In fact, they are considered as “mini economies” due to their impact on the country’s economy.
From Ayala to Robinsons to Megaworld and SM, malls are among the largest employers in the country, with thousands of workers per corporation. In 2020, however, the pandemic greatly affected the retail industry and closed many shops and even shopping malls. This resulted in the unemployment of many sales associates, cashiers, merchandisers, customer service representatives, and security guards.
Before the pandemic, Pateros resident Arnold Ison Melgar worked as a mall security guard earning up to P18,000 a month. He lost his job when the mall closed, and his entire family had to rely on his mother-in-law who owns a small sari-sari store for their livelihood.
“Sa hirap ng buhay, wala na akong mapasukang trabaho dahil ako ay isang PWD. Talagang dapang dapa kami,” Melgar said.
(With how hard life is because of the pandemic, I could no longer get a job because I am a PWD [person with disability]. We were at our lowest point.)
When he was chosen as a beneficiary for the 10K Ayuda in August 2021, Melgar spent P8,000 to open his own sari-sari store. The remaining P2,000 was used for his family’s daily needs like rice, milk, and diapers.
“Malaking bagay sa akin, dahil simula nung na bigyan ako ng pang kabuhayan ay pinatigil ko na ang asawa ko sa pagtitinda, sa paglalako, dti naang kami sa maliit na tindahan kumukuha ng pang gastos araw-araw,” he said.
(It’s a big thing for me, because since I was given a livelihood, I have stopped my wife from selling and having to work. Our small business takes care of our daily expenses.)
With Cayetano’s financial stimulus, Melgar was able to cover their household expenses using the income from his small business. Despite the pandemic, he is hopeful and encourages others not to lose hope, as there will always be help.