As many businesses in the city struggle for survival after the pandemic swept the local economy to its knees, Ermito Herila and his mobile stall of assorted handicrafts and native products is trying hard to stay afloat.
Ermito, 37, has been tending to his small business since 2007, getting his inventory from his hometown of Quezon, until the lockdown forced him to close shop.
Since the easing of the restrictions, Ermito has begun to pick up the pieces of his small business if only so he could continue providing for his family in Barangay San Jose.
Ermito displays his products every day at the corner of Abanico Road under a makeshift tarpaulin roof in hopes that buyers will notice his woven products of mostly baskets, brooms, and bamboo blinds.
“Wala pa ang lockdown, nandito na ‘yan, pinapaubos na lang namin. Nilalako rin talaga namin ito pero kapag gusto namin makatipid sa gasolina, dini-display na lang namin,” he said.
He says that his livelihood income from selling woven products has been greatly affected by the quarantine controls due to threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
He used to peddle his products around the city proper, earning around P800 a day. However, since the lockdown, this earning reduced to P200.
“Apektado din kasi dati sa presyo, ang bentahan namin ng tambo P150 talaga ‘yan. Syempre ngayon, hirap din ang mga tao ngayon, kaya binabaan na namin, isandaan na lang ang benta namin ng tambo. Wala, kawawa din ‘yong bibili, pare-parehas lang din tayong naghihirap,” Ermito said.
Like most people nowadays, Ermito admits that he is also afraid of the threat of COVID-19 and the risk of his exposure along the road.
However, he says that he cannot just stay at their house and do nothing for their living.
“Natatakot din naman kaso syempre kailangan din naman talaga namin gawin. Hindi naman pwede na mag-steady lang kami sa bahay. May pinapakain tayo, kailangan din talaga natin kumayod. ‘Di pwedeng iasa na lang sa gobyerno, sa dami ba naman ng tao,” Ermito said.
Ermito has decided to bring down the prices of his products just to ensure that he could make a sell for each day. His brooms like walis tingting that he used to sell for P50 now costs P40; while ‘walis-tambo’ has decreased from P150 to P100.
The bamboo blinds that he used to sell for P700, now sells for P600. He sells duyan (hammock) for P750, far from its previous price of P1000. Ermito also sells woven baskets of varying sizes which costs from P300 to P450.
Ermito knew that P200 is only enough for their expenses within the day and he has no choice but to continue selling on the next days to survive their needs.
“Kapag kumita ako ng P200, pagkabukasan wala na ‘yan. Isang gabi lang ‘yan, wala na, ubos na. Sa kinabukasan na naman, bago na naman na kayod,” he said.