Managing two businesses in the middle of a pandemic is no easy feat. But for barbecue vendor and ukay-ukay seller Marinel Carta, hard work matched with hope can go a long way.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Carta used to earn between P400 and 500 a day from selling barbecue and secondhand clothing in Barangay Cabua-an in Balaoan, La Union.
Her husband helps her support their three children by working as a barangay volunteer, earning about P1,000 per month.
When the pandemic hit, Carta’s daily income dipped to P200. But giving up was not an option for her and her family.
She sought help from former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s Sampung Libong Pag-asa program, an initiative that aims to provide pandemic-stricken families with P10,000 each.
On August 18, her name was selected, and without wasting any time she used the cash aid to expand her supply of meat and secondhand clothes. She now earns the same daily income she used to make before the pandemic.
“Ngayon po kumikita na kami ng P400-500 per day. Basta maubos po yung paninda. Kasi minsan po, hindi man maubos, at least, may pagkain na kami,” Carta said.
(Right now, we’re earning between P400-500 per day so long as we sell all our products. Because there are times when we could not sell everything. Nonetheless, that gives us something to eat for that day.)
“Sa mga kababayan kong nawawalan ng pag-asa, ‘wag po kayong mawalan ng pag-asa. Tiwala lang. Magtiwala tayo,” she added.
(To those who are losing hope, let’s keep the faith. Let’s trust God.)
Stories of hope
Carta’s story of grit was featured on the November 27, 2021 episode of the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program.
During the livestream, Cayetano said these success stories are important in sustaining the program which has already grown into a nationwide movement.
“We never knew that this will grow into a movement. At gusto natin itong ituloy-tuloy. Yung success stories ninyo ay napakaimportante kasi the more the success stories, the more na yung tao gusto tumulong,” he said.
(We never knew that this will grow into a movement. What we want is to sustain this program. Your success stories are very important because the more success stories that we get, the more people who will decide to reach out and lend a hand.)
He said the program aims to prove that creating a direct stimulus program for pandemic-stricken households is feasible.
“Ang isang libo, malaking tulong. Ang limang libo, malaking tulong na. Makabili ka ng dalawang libong worth ng groceries, mabigay mo sa isang pamilya, malaking tulong,” Cayetano said.
“It’s big enough para sa kaunti ninyong pangangailangan plus magnegosyo nang maliit. Ang tawag po namin diyan, ‘di lang pangtawid kundi pang-ahon talaga,” he added.
(One thousand pesos is already a huge help. Five thousand is already a huge help. Buy P2,000 worth of groceries for a family, that’s already a huge help. The P10,000 cash aid is big enough for families to support their basic needs and start their own small businesses. We don’t just want tide you over. We want you to recover.)
Launched on May 1, the Sampung Libong Pag-asa campaign took off from the advocacy of Cayetano’s 10K Ayuda Bill, which seeks to distribute cash aid to Filipino families to help them purchase their basic needs and revive their sources of income amid the ongoing pandemic.
Supporting local industries
The November 27 episode zeroed in on the plight of shoemakers from the town of Liliw, dubbed as the shoemaking capital of Laguna province.
A total of 50 pre-selected beneficiaries, as well as 25 commenters on the program’s Facebook livestream and 25 random beneficiaries from the host’s tablet, received P10,000 each from the program, bringing its total number of recipients to 13,086.
Cayetano said the support of local governments is crucial in keeping small businesses alive in the middle of the ongoing pandemic.
“Kahit anong gandang industriya sa isang lugar, iba talaga yung paglaki ‘pag yung local officials very supportive,” he said.
(No matter how beautiful a place’s industry is, the growth of our businesses is very different when they are supported by our local officials)
Liliw Municipal Vice Mayor Nhon Montesines and Councilor Ayette Ticzon thanked Cayetano for bringing the program to their constituents.