Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said he was praying for more people to come together and help small businesses recover from the adverse effects of the pandemic.
“So many ended up na ginagamit y’ung ibang binebenta para sa bahay, o kaya sinara muna, dahil nga kumalat y’ung mga cases,” Cayetano said in a livestream on November 25, 2021, ahead of the latest Sari-saring Pag-asa episode.
(A lot of [sari-sari store owners] closed down or use their store’s stocks for family use because of the cases of COVID-19.)
“We’re talking about sari-sari stores na dati nang existing pero kahit gaano sila kasipag, tinamaan ng pandemic,” he added.
(We’re talking about existing sari-sari store owners who, no matter how hardworking they may be, have been severely affected by the pandemic.)
Cayetano said the Sari-saring Pag-asa program as well as the Sampung Libong Pag-asa initiative seek to provide financial aid to as many Filipinos and micro-enterprises as possible.
“As we pray to God for people to help…[the program] is supposed to help [them] hindi lang makatawid kundi makabangon (rise above their needs),” Cayetano said, reiterating his program’s commitment to provide direct cash aid rather than band-aid solutions in response to an “extraordinary” global situation.
Sari-sari store makeover
The Sari-saring Pag-asa program provides P3,500 to struggling sari-sari store owners across the country. It aims to help the owners replenish their store’s supplies and increase their income amid the pandemic.
Nationwide, the program has provided cash grants to a total of 6,387 small business owners as of November 23.
One of the beneficiaries is Teresa Castillo, whose small eight-year-old store in San Juan City is filled with various colorful items and products.
Castillo’s store has been sustaining her needs after the death of two beloved family members — her husband and one of her children.
“Napakahirap po talaga [magtinda ngayong pandemya]….lalo na y’ung mga naghahanap buhay na katulad ko, dati naglalako ako ng kakanin, pero dahil sa pandemya nahinto,” Castillo said, recalling the early days of the lockdown in 2020 when her earnings dwindled from P1,000 to a meager P400 a day.
(It had been hard trying to make a living in the middle of a pandemic. I used to sell kakanin but I had to stop because of the pandemic.)
However, the hardships only made Castillo work harder and smarter for her family.
“Araw-araw nag-iipon ako…kung saan ko ilalagay pambayad ng ganito, pambayad ng ilaw, pambayad ng tubig,” Castillo said, sharing her own tips on how she keeps her small store afloat with what little earnings they have in a day.
(I save up everyday, and make sure that I allot for the utilities like electricity or for water bills.)
True to its goal of helping sari-sari store owners restock their small stores, Cayetano’s program gifted Castillo with boxes filled with various items to restock her store on November 22. Included in these packages are packs of noodles, canned goods, and other items she could sell in her store.
Apart from these packages, she also received cash assistance from the program.
“Hindi ko akalain na pupunta kayo dito…Maraming salamat sa lahat at maraming salamat kay sir [former speaker Cayetano],” Castillo said, expressing her gratitude towards the program.
(I didn’t even think you would notice this small store…Thank you to everyone, and to sir [former Speaker Cayetano].)