Sari-Sari Store

‘Sari-saring Pag-Asa’ highlights plight of neighborhood store owners

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Seventy-five (75) sari-sari store owners received cash assistance on Thursday, September 2, 2021, from the Sari-saring Pag-Asa program of former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies from the Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso.

Forty-five (45) beneficiaries came from the cities of Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, and Parañaque, while the rest were picked during the previous Facebook livestream of the program.

Among the beneficiaries featured on Thursday was Myrna Gatdula from Guiguinto, Bulacan. She was a recipient of an earlier edition of the program held on July 12.

In a short video clip, Gatdula detailed how the pandemic affected her sari-sari store and its operations and shared how the pandemic moves her to extend credit to her customers and frequent debtors out of concern for them. 

“[Sa] aking sari-sari store dati, malakas akong magtinda. Ngayon, mahina. Madalas may nangungutang na hindi mo maayawan kasi naaawa ka rin sa iyong kapwa,” she said.

(I used to be able to sell a lot from my sari-sari store before the pandemic. But now I am not able to sell as much. There are also frequent debtors whom you cannot ignore because you feel for them.)

“Hinihintay mo na kahit papaano makapagtinda ka hanggang may oras na para ikaw ay kumita kahit na papaano na maibili mo man lang ng kamatis. Y’un talaga ang malaking epekto sa amin ng pandemic,” Gatdula added.

(You sell until the last allowable minute so you would earn money and be able to buy at least a tomato. That was the effect of the pandemic on us.)

According to Gatdula, she was able to earn as much as P5,000 to P6,000 daily before the pandemic. Today, she is able to earn only around P1,800 to P2,000 daily.

Gatdula said she persevered and consistently worked long and hard to keep her store open because her sari-sari store is her family’s only source of income.

“Dahil sa wala nga pong trabaho ang aking asawa at ang aking mga anak ay may mga asawa at kanya-kanya ng pamilya, ay mayroon akong pandagdag puhunan para sa aking sari-sari store,” she said.

(Because my husband has no job and my children have their own families, this will be an additional capital for my sari-sari store.)

Gatdula is among the 800,000 to 1.3 million sari-sari store owners in the Philippines. Of this number, 42 percent closed during the community quarantine while 90 percent reduced their operations.

Prior to Thursday’s episode, the Sari-Saring Pag-Asa program had already reached 2,093 sari-sari store owners from different parts of the country.

The Sari-Saring Pag-Asa program will complement Cayetano’s weekly Sampung Libong Pag-Asa initiative, which took off from the advocacy of the 10K Ayuda Bill.

The Cayetanos and their allies filed the 10K Ayuda Bill on February 1, 2021 with the aim of expanding the government’s economic stimulus program. The proposed measure seeks to distribute P10,000 each among the country’s poorest households.

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