Maria Lourdes Quiliope knows how it is to start small. Her sari-sari store in Davao City began with a capital of a mere P500 which she used to purchase her initial stocks.
“Nag-start lang po talaga ako sa P500. Noong panahon na iyon, iilan lang po ang nagtitinda. So, pag naubos na po ang tinda ko, nag-go-grocery po ako sa P500 ko lang po. Saka ayun na, tumubo na po yung pera ko. Bumili naman ako ng ibang paninda, hanggang sa naging ganito,” Quiliope said in a video shown during the Sari-saring Pag-asa program on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
(I actually started with just P500 in capital. Back then, there were only a few stores. So when my inventory was finished, I’d go back to the grocery with my P500. Eventually my capital grew, and I used it to buy more things to sell. Now here I am.)
The times weren’t always sunny for Quiliope and her family, however, especially when the pandemic hit in 2020. Her husband, a tricycle driver, had a hard time bringing food to the table because fewer people were moving around due to travel restrictions.
Aside from that, they were also forced to close their small sari-sari store because of low sales and empty inventory. This was a real blow to the family as the store was a significant part of their household income.
“Noong umpisa ng pandemic, talagang halos naubos yung paninda ko. Kaunti lang kasi, parang walang bumibili. Kaunti na lang ang paninda ko,” Quiliope said.
(At the start of the pandemic, my store was almost empty. Very few people were buying from us.)
Help came by way of Sari-saring Pag-asa, former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s cash aid program for micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) which has over 8,000 beneficiaries to date.
When she received her P3,500 cash aid, Quiliope wisely used it to stock up.
“Nung natanggap ko na yung P3,500 po na ibinigay po sa akin, ibinili ko po ng mga lalagyan ng ulam. Yung kalahati, ibinili ko po ng pandagdag sa sari-sari store ko po,” she said.
(When I received the P3,500 that the program gave me, I used half to buy food containers. The other half I used as additional capital for my sari-sari store.)
“Noong nabigyan na ako ng P3,500 ng Sari-saring Pag-asa, ang laking tulong po niya para makapuhunan po ako ulit at makausad po sa aking pagtinda,” she added.
(When I was given the P3,500 assistance, it was a huge help for me to invest back into my store and move my wares.)
Quiliope also shared tips on how to manage store finances. “Sa araw-araw ko po, naglalaan po ako ng P20 para pambayad doon sa mga bayarin namin, para makausad po ako sa araw-araw po,” she said.
(Everyday, I put aside P20 for our bills or other expenses. This way I can chip away at these expenses a bit each day.)
Standing in front of her store, which is equipped with a weighing scale and a refrigerator, she encourages others to persevere because there are people like former Speaker Cayetano who are willing to help those in need.
Tuesday’s Sari-saring Pag-asa program announced 75 new beneficiaries from Romblon and Baguio City, all of whom received P3,500 each to restock their stores and pay for their immediate needs.
“Tulong-tulong po tayo, and hopefully po, you know, mas marami tayong matulungan at makabangon po talaga yung mga mga napatid, nadapa, nagkaproblema ngayong pandemic,” Cayetano shared in a Facebook live video to introduce the episode.
(Let’s all help each other, and hopefully, you know, we will be able to help more people and more people will be able to recover, especially those who faced stumbles, problems, and challenges during the pandemic.)
The distribution events for the financial assistance were led by Baguio Rep. Mark Go and Romblon Vice Governor Felix “Dong-Dong” Ylagan.