Jeremy Gasapo runs a sari-sari store in front of his mother’s home in the ‘poblacion’ of Guiljungan, a town in Cauayan, 100 or so kilometers from Bacolod which is the provincial capital. He is more popularly known as Eming among his friends and relatives. Eming’s sari-sari or variety store is a nondescript structure made up of bamboo and wood which is mostly open on all sides. It has a counter, behind which is a longish bench where Eming sits or takes a siesta during slack business hours. His store has been around for at least five years now; it is open seven days a week for an average of 14 hours a day, except on Sundays, when he takes the morning off to attend church. It is situated just across from the local high school and so he gets a steady stream of customers, especially students when there are classes.
Up until last month, Eming was borrowing capital from a lending agency charging a 10 per cent monthly interest. After giving his last payment to the agency last month, he resolved to discontinue borrowing as he got tired of meeting the daily stipulated payment. Now his shelves have few stocks left - a few packets of toiletries, some school supplies, and dry goods such as hair clips and combs.
At 46, Eming has not married and lives in the family home with his older sister Jocelen who is also single. Together they look after their mother, Alicia, who is now 81, occasionally Jocelen helps Eming tend his store. When Eming was only eight years old, his father left them to live with another woman. With no one to depend on, their mother Alicia prepared and sold dried fish and it was through this livelihood that she was able to send her children to school. When Eming’s older siblings graduated they found jobs and helped Alicia in supporting the younger members of the family.
The sari-sari is Eming’s only livelihood and he is keen to bring it back to its previous profitable levels. He needs funds to do this and so has applied for a loan of 7,000 pesos from the PSHF. This amount will enable him to buy the following items for his sari-sari: a sack of rice, two sacks of charcoal, four cases of soft drinks, and a wide variety of food items and toiletries. When his sari-sari was well-stocked, Eming was having average sales of 800 pesos per day which gave him a net income of 3,000 pesos (US68) a month. Apart from his sari-sari, he was selling e-loads to mobile phone users as well. For every 1,000 pesos worth of ‘e-load‘ sold, he got a profit of 150 pesos; in a week, he was selling 2,000 pesos worth of load. Eming is eagerly looking forward of reviving his sari-sari and he is hoping that the PSHF will help him.
Bernadette G. Togado
PSHF Negros Occidental-South
Jeremy manning his sari-sari