Nov 24, 2020

A pawnshop amidst the COVID-19 crisis

Jinky has been a branch associate for Palawan Pawnshop in the last five years, assigned to Coron where she lives in a staff house with several other co-workers. While nearly all business establishments in town had closed amidst the virus threat and the economy had ground to a halt, her shop is allowed to remain open. And they had not been busier as now, attending to various personal financial transactions of ordinary people.

Palawan Pawnshop branch associate Jinky Ferrer (2nd from left, foreground) and co-workers, happy to serve in times of COVID-19.

The quarantine lockdown in Coron, Palawan had not kept Jinky Ferrer stuck at home. Even with public transport halted, she walks to her office every day like it is a regular day, except that nowadays, work has taken a whole new meaning.

Jinky has been a branch associate for Palawan Pawnshop in the last five years, assigned to Coron where she lives in a staff house with several other co-workers. While nearly all business establishments in town had closed amidst the virus threat and the economy had ground to a halt, her shop is allowed to remain open. And they had not been busier as now, attending to various personal financial transactions of ordinary people.

A successful home-grown establishment, Palawan Pawnshop has emerged as one of the finance sector’s top money remittance establishment and pawnshop. At the onset of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), it has played a critical role in the petrified lives of ordinary people.

Unlike during ordinary days, Jinky says she could sense that the personal transactions they have been handling carried a burden of urgency.

“Nakikita namin sa mga customer namin na talagang kailangang-kailangan nila magpadala o mag-claim ng pera,” Jinky told Palawan News

“Halos tuloy-tuloy ang transactions namin, one-by-one with the customer, tapos ilan lang kami sa loob ng branch. Mapagod pero okay lang kasi serbisyo sa kapwa po ito,” she added.

As a frontliner having to deal with people daily, Jinky said they are aware of the health risks they are facing.

Despite the risk of being exposed to the virus, Jinky chose to continue working six days a week to ensure that people who count on pawnshops for financial services and assistance in times of their great need have something to depend on.

“Isa sa risks ay yong paglalakad namin every day na medyo mapagod talaga. Kahit dito sa Coron, wala na talagang pampasaherong [sasakyan], walang tricycle, kaya lakad talaga kami,” she said.

Some are lucky like her to have work, she said, but many depend on the money they get from pawning valuables or those sent by family members or relatives to survive through the lockdown.

“Ang unang-una na nagmo-motivate syempre ay yong family ko talaga kasi isa rin ako sa inaasahan ng pamilya ko. Naging thankful ako kasi ang laking bagay din na pumapasok ka every day, overwhelming din sa heart na nakakatulong din kami,” she said.

“Marami rin kasi na mga nagtatrabaho din, marami rin hotel na nag-close. Yong iba naman ay mga estudyante pa ata o kamag-anak na kailangan padalhan ng allowance,” Jinky added.

Jinky hopes that the crisis will end soon as its effects can already be seen, sadly, on the faces of their customers.

Lilibeth Abadiano, area manager of Palawan Pawnshop for the province, said that like her branch associates, she also works regularly despite the risks to handle the operations of their branches.

Lilibeth said she is motivated to work in support of Palawan Pawnshop’s mission to ensure that people who rely on their services are assisted on time now that the country is facing a crisis like no other.

She said she is encouraged to do what she is doing because her area manager are also dependent on her to keep their families afloat during the ECQ.

 

Clients of Palawan Pawnshop follow physical distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

“Para tuloy-tuloy na makapag-serbisyo sa tao, at the same time sa mga nasasakupan ko as area managers. Sa akin din sila kumakapit. Kapag nakikita ko rin kung gaano kami kailangan ng mga tao, yong demand ng mga tao kasi minsan may naririnig kami na ‘sana di muna kami mag-close kasi kailangan namin kayo’. Hindi na alintana itong COVID, though yong risk saka pa lang nagsi-sink in sa iyo,” Lilibeth said.

She said COVID-19 has made her realize a lot of things, one of them is the importance of the pawnshop in serving the needs of the people.

Lilibeth added that their daily operation has witnessed a mother sending allowances to her stranded child outside the province and a child sending financial aid to parents.

Witnessing these situations, she described, is often hard for them to go through and think about.

She said they will only think about customers’ anxieties less when they leave with smiles on their faces knowing they will be okay with the money they received or their relatives with the financial help they sent.

Lilibeth said she is thankful that the management of Palawan Pawnshop remains supportive not only of its employees but more importantly, the people that depend on its services.

“Lalo ko na-realize din kung gaano kahalaga kami, yong services namin sa panahong ito. Syempre makikita mo na hindi indibidwal ang naapektuhan ng pandemic na ito, pati rin yong aming company. Malaki rin ang pasasalamat namin na ang aming mga boss ay supportive sa amin, hindi kami pinapabayaan pati rin ang mga customer,” she said.

“Beyond sa trabaho ay ‘yong willingness kasi kung hindi ka willing, hindi mo rin ito magagawa so na-appreciate ko talaga yong mga pumapasok na empleyado namin kahit alam nila ‘yong risk. Mostly ay mga asawa at anak, nagti-take risk sila kahit lumalakad sila, gigising early in the morning tapos ganito pa ang sitwastyon. Sana huwag sila panghinaan ng loob dahil hindi natin alam hanggang kailan itong krisis. Lagi nila tatandaan na dito lang kami, ang company nakaalalay at kasama lagi sa laban na ito. Alagaan mabuti ang kalusugan ng bawat isa dahil ito ang mabisang panlaban sa COVID-19,” Lilibeth added.

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