MANILA - A "barangay talipapa" (village market) was set up in Barangay Sacred Heart in Quezon City to help residents get access to fresh food and limit the need to go to markets as coronavirus restrictions continued.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Raul Dactulan sold fish and other seafood house to house in the barangay where he also lives.
Like thousands of self-employed workers, Dactulan lost his source of livelihood when the metro-wide lockdown took effect in March.
But another door opened for the Negros-born fish vendor as Barangay Sacred Heart set up a program dubbed, "barangay talipapa" on March 30th.
“Ang gusto ni Kapitana (Camille Malig David), magkaroon kami ng talipapa sa aming barangay nang ang mga tao hindi na pupunta sa iba, kaya nabuo po ito para makapagtinda kami ng pagkain dito sa aming barangay," he said.
(Our village chief wanted us to have market stalls in the barangay so people won't have to go out, so we could also sell food.)
“Kailangan natin mabuhay, kailangan natin kumita; wala tayo kakainin ‘pag di tayo magsumikap," he added.
(We need to sustain a living, we need to earn; we can't eat if we are not diligent.)
Through the village market, Dactulan continues to earn as much as he did before the lockdown. On good days he gets to take home P800.
Barangay Secretary Jonah Galoyo said the program aims to hit two birds with one stone: provide livelihood to residents and keep families “safer” as they no longer have to go to more congested public markets.
There is no public market in Barangay Sacred Heart.
The makeshift "talipapa" is set up on Ybardolaza Street, at the waiting shed area of the Quezon City High School.
“Mga residente rin po namin ang nagbebenta dito, nabigyan din po sila ng pagkakataon lalong-lalo na po 'yung mga vendor na nahinto at hindi na pinapayagang magtinda, nandito na po sila ngayon sa ating barangay talipapa," Galoyo said.
(It is also our residents selling here, vendors who had to stop [because of the lockdown] was given a chance to sell here.)
“Hindi po tayo ganun kasigurado kung sino ang carrier ng virus, at hindi na po nila (customer residents) kailangan pumunta sa ibang lugar para mamalengke," he added.
(We are not sure who are carriers of the virus, and the residents no longer have to go elsewhere to go buy food.)
Amy Agustin was a plain housewife before the pandemic. Her husband works at a hardware store that was forced to close shop during the lockdown.
They have 4 children, and two relatives were locked down with them.
A neighbor loaned Agustin P7,000 so she could give selling vegetables, root crops, and condiments a try.
“Malaki po ang naitulong nito para sa akin kasi 'yung pang-araw-araw na pagkain, lalo na kami sa isang pamiya anim kaming mag-iina’t mag-aama, tapos nalockdown 'yung dalawang kasama namin sa bahay kaya naging walo kami,” Agustin said.
(This is huge help for our daily needs. We are six in the family plus two others who were locked down with us.)
Aside from Dactulan's fish and seafood, and Agustin's vegetables, fresh fruits, meat products, eggs, dried fish, barbecue, fruit shakes, and milk are sold at the "talipapa."
Jolly dela Vega used to maintain a stall at Nepa Q-Mart, which cost her P700 per day.
She is thankful the barangay does not charge anything for her stall at the talipapa.
“Nakatulong po ‘to kasi siyempre ako lang nagtitinda ng baboy dito, tapos walang bayad sa puwesto," Dela Vega said.
(This helped me because I'm the only one selling pork here and there is no charge for the stall.)
Every now and then, Dela Vega fears she might contract the virus, but has to keep working for the sake of her 4 children.
“Lalaban kahit natatakot ako na 'yung kaharap ko mamaya mayroong COVID. Laban pa rin," she added.
(I fight even if I fear the one in front of me has COVID. I still fight.)
More supplies are available at public markets and more stores have opened since Metro Manila shifted to looser restrictions under the general community on June 1.
But Kiko Torres and Rose Orbista continue to buy their provisions here.
“Maganda. Hindi ka na kailangan maglakbay, mamasahe,” Torres said.
(It's good. I don't have to travel, pay for fare.)
Orbista lives right across the talipapa.
“Pabor po ito sa mga taga-Sacred Heart… Gaya nito, dito lang kami sa harapan. Ganito ang pinaka-the best,” she said.
(This favors residents of Sacred Heart... Like this, we just have to go across... This is the best.)
Sales, meanwhile, have slowed down for most of the vendors since the GCQ took effect.
Agustin used to earn as much as P2,000 a day during the lockdown; now, she takes home around P600.
Dela Vega’s P1,500 to P2,000 daily sales are now cut by P500.
On slow days, Dactulan earns only P500.
But they are still thankful for the opportunity to earn, while others have been left without income.
The makeshift market is open Mondays through Thursdays, while Fridays until Sundays are reserved for disinfection.
The barangay will not end the program for as long as any form of quarantine is in effect.