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Marites: A Story of Survival

For more than a year now, the world has experienced and is continuously experiencing uncertainty and restlessness caused by the global pandemic known as COVID-19. The virus has affected and is still affecting the lives of the people not only in our country but also in other parts of the world. What started as a health catastrophe has developed into a full-scale economic crisis which destroyed economic activities and paralyzed the economy. No matter how big or small one’s source of living is, no one is exempted from its devastating effects, just like Marites Pasco Solatorio.

Marites, 45, from Purok Rose, Barangay Makilas, Ipil, has long been an ambulant vendor since 2006. Her husband, Remigildo Cabatuan Solatorio, 54, was a baker and has worked in different bakeries in the vicinity, until 2010 where he met an accident which caused his foot to be amputated. They have 2 children, namely, Remigildo Solatorio, Jr., 21 years old and is in second year college, and Christine Mae Solatorio, 17 years of age, and is currently a grade 11 student. She is a Pantawid beneficiary and receives Php 3,100.00 bi-monthly for her child’s education and health.

Marites and her husband worked hand in hand in making siopao and sold snacks at the Bus terminal. According to her, before COVID-19, they were able to sell 500 pieces of siopao per day. However, due to lockdown restrictions of the pandemic, travels and trips were prohibited thus resulting to no customers at the terminal. Because of this, their income from vending was deeply affected. She was only earning Php 300.00 a day which was just enough for their family’s meals.

To be able to survive during those times, she and her 2 children strategized into going around the vicinity separately to sell siopao. However, siopao is prone to spoilage because of its meat filling. Given this dilemma, Marites decided to also make and sell binangkal.

It was around the end of third quarter of 2020 when there were already limited bus trips that were allowed. With this, Marites went back to the terminal to take the opportunity to start selling there again. However, she still wasn’t able to recover her income since there were only few customers, sometimes there were only two trips in a day.

The Livelihood Assistance Grant program of the DSWD-SLP was an answered prayer for Marites. She was thankful that she was qualified to receive the said livelihood assistance. She received Php 12,135.00 and she used it all up to purchase ingredients. After she received her grant last September, she started to go around and sell her binangkal. But starting last February 2021, she and her husband ventured in making homemade bread since binangkal and bread have the same ingredients.

She says that after receiving the LAG, there is a great change in the status of their life. She was able to put up her own bakery after she was given the grant. She was able to buy glass shelf for her bread, cake molder, and mixer. Her income from her bakery ranges from Php 500.00 to Php 3,500.00 per day which they use for their daily needs such as electricity, water, school expenses of her children Her market and customers not only include individuals but also different store owners who buy their bread to resell it in their stores.

The oven that they are using now is owned by her sister and they are only borrowing it for the meantime. She has already a passbook savings account but no savings yet since she’s planning to buy her own oven.

Sa paghatag jud ninyo sa inyong tabang sa amua, dako jud kaayo among pasalamat tungod kay dako kaayo sya gakatabang pud sa among pamilya, nakapadayon ug skwela akong mga anak, sa inadlaw namong gikinahanglan na suportaran jud namo tungod sa inyong hinatag pureso dako jud kaayo kog pasalamat ana. Kung wala pa mo di pa mi karun makaplastar ug balik ug ingon ana. Mao na sya na dako jud akong pangayo ug pasalamat sa inyuha.

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- who has written 12 posts on DSWD Field Office IX Official Website.

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