Amidst the enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon, the community spirit lives on among the members of the Samahang Likas Pantawid Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) in Ibaan, Batangas as they continue to offer easier access to food in the barangay through their rice retailing livelihood. 

The Samahang Likas Pantawid SLPA is a livelihood association organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Composed of eight members who are also beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the association established a rice retailing store through the provisioned seed capital fund under the Sustainable Livelihood Programm (SLP).

The SLP is a poverty-alleviation program of the DSWD that provides livelihood resources and opportunities for the poor, disadvantaged, and vulnerable sectors with the goal of uplifting their socio-economic well-being and personal development.

Prior to the community quarantine, the association used to earn an average of Php 5,000.00 a day. However, when the community quarantine was implemented, their sales slightly slowed down. Despite this, they did not stop their operations.

“Kahit po naapektuhan ang aming benta, hindi po kami tumigil sa pagtitinda kasi po kawawa naman po ang mga ka-barangay namin. Kung magsasara po kami, wala po silang mabibilhan ng bigas.” Carmen Cabral, president of the association, stated.

Practicing social distancing and wearing face masks as safety precautions, only two members are on duty in the store per day.

As a sign of consideration to their co-residents, the association also decided to allow on-credit sales in this time of crisis.

“Naranasan po kasi namin ang hirap dati nung kami pa ang nangungutang ng bigas. Kaya po ngayong kami naman ang mayroon, maluwag po kami sa pagpapautang sa kanila,” Carmen shared.

For the members, this is also their way to give back to the residents of their barangay who have been patronizing their store and have been the main reasons for the growth of their sales since they started operation.

According to Carmen, each member received PhP 9,000 dividend from the income of their store last March 8, a year after their store’s opening. Because of this, they were not much burdened when the enhanced community quarantine was implemented.

“Ngayon pong ‘di makapagtrabaho ang asawa ko, malaking tulong po itong dibidendong aming natanggap mula sa bigasan. Ngayon po, ito ang bumubuhay sa amin,” Carmen shared.

Through their efforts, it is not only the association members who are at ease during this time. In small ways, they know that their effort, no matter how small, is a big help to the other residents of their barangay.