BOUNCING BACK IN PEDALS:
Free bike beneficiaries from Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela thankful to DOLE
The free bike livelihood assistance give away of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have ignited a new hope for the 132 beneficiaries from Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela who had to go through a pandemic-related job loss.
And the same hope was expressed by Armando Escanilla, Ramoncito Bartolo, Berliza Bonzon, and Bernardo Capellan who all shared a brief but a life-changing moment for them and their family members.
For someone who had been around in the food business for 15 years, it was a painful episode for 59-year old Armando Escanilla from Caloocan City to lose his “tapsilogan” business at the time of the pandemic.
“Nung first three months talaga wala na, hirap na kami sa pera. Actually yung anak ko na third year college sana ay hindi na rin nakapag-enroll kasi talagang hindi na namin kaya. Yung anak kong pangatlo, single mom, may isang anak ay natanggal naman sa trabaho. Yung pwesto po namin na tapsilogan ay wala na dahil sa pandemya kaya hindi na kami makapag-tinda,” he said, adding that he considered doing an online food delivery with the help of his children. The business became successful during the lockdown, having received many online orders through Facebook posts but it slowed down during the easing of community quarantine.
“Nag-dedeliver po kami ng pagkain ngayon mula nung nawala yung pwesto namin after 3 months. Sinubukan ko mag-online delivery nung may nagpa-luto sa amin ng pansit malabon. Sinubukan ng anak ko i-post sa facebook at maraming nag-comment, so pwede pala—may market pala sa pag-online food delivery. Nung lockdown talagang malakas, maganda ang kita pero nung nagluwag ang quarantine, medyo nabawasan. S’yempre yung mga tao nakakapunta na kung saan saan—kaya talagang humina.”
With a new source of income, he thanked the DOLE and the Caloocan City LGU for the livelihood assistance he received. “Hindi man nabigyan lahat pero marami silang natulungan. Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong malasakit,” he said.
Ask what happened to him during community quarantine, 29-year old Ramoncito Bartollo from Malabon City lost his job as a safety officer and took his chance on becoming one of the online sellers to make ends meet.
“Tambay lang po ako kaya naisipan ko na mag-online selling. Wala akong kinikita kaya ang hirap po talaga. Kaya nung nagkaroon po ng FreeBis ang DOLE ay nagkaroon po ako ng mapagkakakitaan,” he said, adding that he looked forward to becoming one of the Grab or LalaFood driver now that he received a bike from DOLE.
Another beneficiary that went to online selling during the pandemic is Berliza Bonzon, 55 years old from Navotas City. She had to work harder during the pandemic given that her children had lost their jobs as well.
“Malaking bagay na magkaroon ako ng trabaho, mapagkakakitaan kasi due to pandemic. Talagang napaka-hirap; sa pagkain pa lang problema na. Tapos ang mga anak ko nawalan na rin ng trabaho. Kaya talagang sobrang gipit namin. Kaya ginrab ko yung opportunity ng DOLE para kahit papaano ay makatulong po sa aking pamilya. Pagyayamin ko ang pinagkatiwala nila sa akin. Pananatlihin ko na mas kumita pa at mas lumago para maging magandang ehemplo ako sa mga mamamayan ng Navotas,” she said.
Bernardo Capellan, 55 years old, had tried selling ice cream along the streets of Valenzuela City after losing his job as a construction worker during the pandemic. He realized later that only a few young-at-heart neighbors would buy ice-cream since children are not allowed to go outside their houses due to imposition of quarantine. But this did not stop him from finding another source of income and the arrival of FreeBis livelihood assistance came just in time.
“Noong dumaan yung pandemya, wala kaming trabaho, nahirapan po kami humanap ng pagkakakitaan. Nagtitinda po ako ng ice cream sa mga sulok; puro kalsada na dinadaanan ko. Wala na akong makitang mga bata sa labas. Lahat nasa loob na lang bahay. Yung mga may edad na lang ang bumibili sa akin ng ice cream tapos pag kumita naman ako ng 150 pesos, bumibili naman ako ng bigas tapos ginagawa po naming lugaw para dumami lang. Para makakain lang kaming lahat.”
He added: “Yung bisikleta ay makakatulong sa aking paghahanapbuhay—sa pagtitinda ko po ng balut, para madaling makarating sa mga gustong umorder. Kailangan ko pa magdagdag ng mga maraming ititinda para makatulong sa pag-aaral ng aking mga anak kasi sa kahirapan ng buhay ngayon, kailangan po talaga humingi ng tulong. Nagpapasalamat ako sa DOLE at PESO.”
Meanwhile, the 132 FreeBis livelihood assistance were distributed during the awarding of DOLE-NCR CAMANAVA Field Office in partnership with the Public Employment Service Offices of local government units on October 27-28, 2020 with 44 awarded in Caloocan, 22 in Malabon, 22 in Navotas, and 44 in Valenzuela as separately held in their respective areas.
Before they received their livelihood undertaking, beneficiaries were enrolled to an insurance coverage under the GSIS Group Personal Accident Insurance (GPAI) and went through the Social Preparation Training.
In her message of support to the beneficiaries, DOLE-NCR CAMANAVA Field Office Director Rowella V. Grande hoped that the livelihood assistance would help them recover amid uncertainties brought by the pandemic.
“Itong bike na ito ay magagamit ninyo para sa inyong pangkabuhayan at ang cellphone ay pang e-loading business. At dahil pumirma ang DOLE ng memorandum of agreement with Grab and LalaFood, matutulungan din namin kayo through our PESO kung paano kayo magiging accredited rider. Kaya ang higit na hiling namin para inyo ay ang pagyamanin at ingatan ang biyayang ito para naman maka-ahon tayo kahit papaano. Lagi naming sinasabi na tayo dapat ang maging parte ng solusyon at hindi tayo maging parte ng problema sa pinagdadaanan natin,” she said.
DOLE-NCR Assistant Regional Director Marion S. Sevilla also joined the ceremonial turnover of bikes together with DOLE Assistant Secretary Victor A. Del Rosario, local chief executives and PESO representatives.
The 3-day awarding of FreeBis livelihood assistance across the National Capital Region concluded on October 28, 2020.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, the beneficiaries will continue to receive technical and business advisory services.
END / Hershey Aquino with report from Angelica Fresnoza