It’s no surprise that the economy took a big blow when the COVID-19 lockdowns came. Not only has the new coronavirus killed lives, but practically also the way we lived. True enough, a lot of businesses and professions were also deemed to be non-essential during this pandemic. Obviously, cash stopped flowing into their pockets, but even clearer is the fact that the bills still kept on coming.
Among those professions that were affected are those working in television, particularly in the entertainment and sports divisions. Production of entertainment programs has been greatly limited, if not paused, in the spirit of physical distancing. The sports production folks, meanwhile, don’t have a single event to cover since sporting events are a form of mass gathering, which the new virus likes to feast on.
But just like athletes getting up after a hard fall, several friends and former colleagues from TV5’s sports division (which carries the PBA and usually, the Olympics), who work both in front and behind the cameras, came together to form Sari Sari Xchange, their public Facebook group for online selling purposes.
“With our livelihood and that of our colleagues greatly impacted, many of us have turned to online selling to help finance our daily needs. [We] offer various products from food, toiletries, protective gears, home and work accessories, health and wellness and various home services. The objective of this effort is to provide a platform to promote our products and encourage fellow colleagues to support these small businesses,” writes Mike, the page’s administrator.
The FB group now has over 1,000 members, which aside from TV5 sports personnel, include their respective families and friends.
One friend in this group whose product we’re patronizing is Sherryl, a friend of mine and Mike’s who sells santol grown in her supplier’s farm outside the metro for around Php100 a kilo (around 3-4 pieces per kilo). Wife’s craving — check. Perhaps the next thing I should watch out for is if naglilihi siya sa santol.
Another friend, meanwhile, has gone aggressive in selling food items during this community quarantine. With many people stuck in their homes and choosing not to dine out, Mary Grace scored an opportunity to make money while keeping them happy. After all, they say that the best way to one’s heart is through the stomach.
Before the pandemic, she began selling longganisa from Manaoag and Alaminos in Pangasinan, as well as gourmet tuyo and gourmet pusit under the banner of Takaw-Tipid. A human resources professional and former single mother, Mary Grace’s main motivation for her side hustle is to provide for the education of her only daughter, whom she brought with her to Manila from Manaoag, their hometown.
My wife and I have tasted the longganisas and the gourmet products. I particularly went after the longganisas having grown up eating the Laoag version (and yes, I’m proud of my Ilocano roots). If you’re the sweet, garlicky, and meaty type, then go for the Manaoag longganisa, which I call the big cousin of the Pampanga skinless longganisa. If having more garlic and more red food coloring is your flair, then the Alaminos longganisa, perhaps the skinnier and toothpicked brother of the Baguio longganisa, is your pick.
When the lockdowns came and upon the prodding of friends, she expanded her product line to include rice and pasta-based packed meals, as well as chicken wings.
So what am I trying to say? If your friend has an online business and if you know that he or she was hit by the COVID-19 crisis or is in need of your financial help, then I suggest supporting them by patronizing their products. They are doing something honorable in their own way. Let us help them help themselves.