Selling Flowers in the Streets during a Pandemic
Rose (24 years old) is a resident of Sapa, Barangay Panghulo, Malabon City. Her household is composed of eight individuals which includes her five children, her mother, father, aunt who is a senior citizen. Her family’s main source of income is distributing and selling Sampaguita flower garlands.
Most members of her community lost their employment. Rose revealed that since most men in the community work at construction sites, all of them lost their jobs during the lockdown enforced by the government to control the pandemic. Women while primarily responsible for caring for the children, also sold sampaguita garlands on the side to augment household incomes. Due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or lockdown, they were unable to sell the garlands and had no sustainable source of income.
“Bawal kasi talaga lumabas. Halimbawa, nakita ka ng barangay sa labas, huhulihin ka kaagad lalo na pag wala kang mask” (Rose, female, 24 years old, Malabon City)
“We were not allowed to go out at all. If the barangay officials see you outside of your house, they would arrest you immediately especially if you do not have a face mask.”(Rose, female, 24 years old, Malabon City)
Rose also mentioned that the quarantine protocols in their barangay are extremely strict. For each household, throughout the ECQ, only one person is allowed to go out and do errands. They did not have curfew hours since residents were not allowed to go out if they do not have a quarantine pass. If apprehended, curfew violators are taken to the barangay office. Rose also mentioned that those who guard and enforce quarantine protocols in their community are all men.
When asked whether they had access to face masks during the ECQ, Rose shared that they could not afford a box of face masks. It was too expensive, so they used cloths and handkerchiefs as an alternative for protective gear. She also mentioned that practicing social distancing was difficult and almost impossible for them since their house is small and all of them were forced to stay inside.
Rose shared that they received food aid four times during the lockdown. However, this was insufficient to meet the foods needs of the whole household. Most of the time they were eating only twice or once a day in order to make food supply last longer. As for the cash aid, she mentioned that there were a lot of households in the community that did not receive cash assistance even though they lost their jobs and applied for the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
“Kulang po talaga ang binibigay ng barangay. Minsan sabi ko sa anak ko pag humihingi ng pagkain, inom na lang siya tubig para ma-survive ang gutom.” (Mary (Rose’s mother), female, 49 years-old, Malabon City)
“The food aid given by the barangay is insufficient. Sometimes when my children ask for food, I just tell them to drink lots of water so that they can endure their hunger and survive.” (Mary (rose’s mother) female, 49 years-old, Malabon City)
Since the implementation of General Community Quarantine (GCQ), Rose and her family were able to go back to selling and distributing Sampaguita garlands. However, it would take them 8 to 9 hours of walking every day since there is no public transportation. They also mentioned that as of now there is little profit from selling since the pandemic has caused the closure of many business establishments.