Freddie (53) is a market vendor from Isio village in southern Negros Occidental. His stall is located near the entrance to the village market. He sells a wide variety of goods, from grocery items to cooking ingredients, and vegetables. Aside from this, he and his wife also make puto (steamed rice cakes) which he peddles in the community.
Inside the Isio market, Freddie and his fellow vendors sell from ‘open shops’ which are actually tables which contain their goods. There seems to be a greater degree of closeness and trust among themselves than with the owners of the bigger shops outside. They can borrow stocks from one another as well as look after each other’s stalls when a vendor is away.
The vegetables which Freddie sells are either home-grown or purchased from middle men whereas grocery items such as cooking oil and sugar are on consignment basis. As for cooking ingredients, in particular onions, garlic and tomatoes, he buys these on a limited scale from a local seller due to lack of capital. He is keen to buy these in bulk from a wholesaler in Kabankalan, the next town, but he has no funds to do so. He is therefore applying for a loan of 5,000 pesos from the PSHF. This amount will enable him to buy a sack of onions (2,400 pesos), two crates of tomatoes (1,600 pesos), and two sacks of garlic (1,000 pesos). What’s more, if he buys in bulk, these goods will be delivered to him for free. He can sell all these items in two weeks and his average profit will be 1,200 pesos ($24).
Freddie and his family comprising his wife Judith (60) and children: Francis (20), Glen (19) and Jude (17), live in a roughly built bamboo house on the upper outskirts of Isio village. Francis had a contractual job with a telecom company earlier this year but the work stopped because of the pandemic. Glen finished senior high school this year. He would like to take up a course in seamanship but with the pandemic, he will wait until next year to go to college. The tuition fees in the maritime school in Bacolod, the provincial capital, are high - as much as 30,000 pesos per semester, so Freddie is keen to start saving money for his son’s schooling as early as now. As for Jude, the youngest son, he will be in grade nine when school opens this coming October.
On Sundays, which is the market day for the village of Isio, everyone in the family help with the market stall. Judith is the cashier while Freddie and his children attend to customers. Aside from the usual ‘fare’ of groceries and vegetables, they also sell one or two native delicacies such as ‘ibos’ (glutinous rice boiled in coconut milk and wrapped in a coconut front) and ‘kalamay hati’ which is a sweet and gooey dessert. The couple make an average income of 15,000 pesos ($300) per month, one-fifth of which is spent on medication for Judith who has a goitre and the rest is for living expenses.
Freddie’s wish is for his three children to be able to finish school so that they will be able to find a good-paying job one day. He is grateful to the PSHF for this loan assistance which will help bring about an improvement in the family income.
Bernadette G. Togado
PSHF Negros Occidental