Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said true leaders never abandon their people during seemingly impossible crises and instead are on the lookout for the needs of the neglected.
“Kapag leader ka, never mo pwedeng talikuran ang pangangailangan ng mga taong nile-lead mo,” Cayetano said in the December 3, 2021 episode of the Sari-saring Pag-asa program aired on his official Facebook page.
(If you are a leader, you can never turn your back on the needs of the people you are leading.)
Now on its second season, the Sari-saring Pag-asa program, provides P3,500 in cash aid each to pre-selected sari-sari store owners across the country to help them replenish their stocks amid the pandemic.
As of writing, the program has helped a total of 7,119 sari-sari store owners save their livelihoods, the latest of whom were from the cities of Olongapo and Manila.
Cayetano assured the sari-sari store owners that they will “reap their labor.”
“Kayo po ay nagtanim ng inyong talino, ng inyong puhunan, sakripisyo ng inyong oras, at marami po sa inyo ay nasuportahan ng kabuhayan ng pamilya n’yo through the sari-sari store,” he told the beneficiaries in Olongapo City.
(You have invested your talents, your money, sacrificed your time, and many of you have provided for your families thanks to your sari-sari stores.)
Local officials, for their part, thanked the former Speaker for helping their constituents continue their sources of income amid the pandemic.
“Sana po ay pagyamanin po natin [ang ayudang ito] (I hope you will make this financial aid grow),” Olongapo’s Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) President Randy Sionzon addressed the beneficiaries.
A total of 25 small business owners from Olongapo and the City of Manila received cash aid through the Sari-saring Pag-asa initiative on Friday, including Melita Atienza, a retired dental assistant and grandmother of 10 who runs a sari-sari store with her husband in Manila.
Atienza shared that prior to the pandemic, her store would gross a minimum of P1,500 up to more than P3,000 in daily sales. The economic slowdown brought by the pandemic, however, slashed her income by more than half.
“Nahirapan ako kasi wala na masyadong mga buyer, wala nang consumer, kasi bawal nang lumabas, mga personal necessity na lang ang pwede. Eh, minsan nauubusan ako, natatakot kaming lumabas kasi bawal matanda,” she said.
“Ngayong pandemic, bihira na makaabot ng P1,000 ang kita ng tindahan ko,” she added.
(It was tough at first because there weren’t as many buyers around, not a lot of consumers, because people weren’t allowed to go out, only for personal necessities. Sometimes I’d run out of stock, but we would always think twice about going out because seniors were not allowed outside the house. Now during the pandemic, it’s rare that I make anything beyond P1,000.)
With the P3,500 cash aid from Sari-saring Pag-asa, Atienza said she will stock up on goods that her neighbors have been looking to buy from her store but have previously been unavailable.
Sari-saring Pag-asa began as a small initiative of the former Speaker and his wife, Taguig 2nd District Rep. Maria Laarni Cayetano, to create a community among sari-sari store owners in Taguig — an avenue to share ideas as well as resources amid the crisis, and link them up with direct suppliers.
Since then, the initiative has grown into a nationwide program with more creative ways of extending various help to beneficiaries online and offline.