Filipino workers worry about low daily earnings amid coronavirus outbreak

Rappler.com
Filipino workers worry about low daily earnings amid coronavirus outbreak
In this #StoryOfTheNation campaign, several Filipinos share their difficulty in stocking up on food and supplies, as they struggle with meager daily earnings amid the coronavirus outbreak and the Metro Manila lockdown

MANILA, Philippines – As of Sunday, March 15, the  government has implemented aggressive measures in an effort to contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the Philippines. 

On the first day of the lockdown or the so-called “community quarantine” of Metro Manila, the government has deployed several security personnel at various checkpoints in the region that are implementing their own version of rules to contain the coronavirus.

Earlier this month on Wednesday, March 4, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also issued guidelines that employers should follow when implementing flexible working hours in response to the outbreak. 

However, these options are easier said than done for the frontliners, service staff, and essential personnel who do not have the luxury to work from home, go on leave, or reduce their work hours and work days.  (READ: Groups slam ‘grossly anti-poor’ measures for labor during Metro Manila lockdown

This is especially true for minimum wage earners including grocery staff, cashiers, vendors, PUV drivers, conductors, and food workers who rely on their day-to-day wages to survive.  

To capture the sentiments of the ordinary workers on this crisis, MovePH mobilized its movers to ask Filipinos how they are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak and the Metro Manila lockdown.

Through the #StoryOftheNation campaign, vendors, drivers, and other Filipinos shared their fears and thoughts about the pandemic. 

Affected earnings 

One of their most common concerns was how the outbreak will affect their daily earnings. They said the past few days have been a struggle to reach their ideal, daily earnings. 

Rene Florendo, 39, tricycle driver. Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

Ngayon medyo mahina ang kita dahil malimit ang taong lumalabas dahil sa COVID-19 at apektado ang hanapbuhay dahil walang pasok,” tricycle driver Rene Florendo said.

(Business is slow since there are fewer people going outside due to COVID-19. My work has been affected since schools and companies cancelled classes and work) 

According to Florendo, he is practicing basic preventive health measures such as washing hands regularly given the nature of his job.

“Medyo maingat lang sa paghahawak sa mga bagay, pagsukli ng pamasahe,” he added. (I am extra careful in handling things and fare) 

Jomer Sumbang, 33, carenderia owner. Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

In general, vendors and tricycle drivers agree that their daily earnings have dramatically decreased since news about the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Metro Manila came out. 

Jomar Sumbang, 33, owns a carenderia. He said that not a lot customers are going to his eatery. Still, he chooses to stay hopeful.

“Humina dahil wala masyadong pumapasok sa trabaho.  May pangamba pa din dahil sa virus pero may pag-asa naman,” Sumbang said. (I barely earn since people barely report to work. While the virus scares me, I think there’s still hope.) 

‘Can’t afford to panic buy’

Based on the interviews made for the #StoryOfTheNation campaign, vendors in public markets are faring better than drivers and carinderia owners.

News of the Metro Manila lockdown have pushed many residents to stock up their pantries and freezers. Not a few headed to public markets to escape the long lines in grocery stores. (READ: Hoarding, overpricing would lead to criminal charges, warns DTI)

Sa ngayon lumakas ang benta gawa ng naghahanda ang mga tao kung halimbawa, hindi sila makalabas dahil sa nasabing lockdown. Pero alam natin na hindi maganda ang nangyayari kasi may kinakatakutan kaya dapat mas maging maingat,” meat vendor Rolly Bacalla said.

(Sales incresed for now because people are preparing for a lockdown scenario. We understand that we should not entirely rejoice and that we should exercise caution.) 

The same is true for fish vendor Salvacion Capariño who noticed that people are adequately preparing for possible worst case scenarios the outbreak could bring. 


Unfortunately, the busy activity in markets recently does not necessarily mean that all vendors could also afford to have a stockpile of essentials that will last them for weeks.

Luisito, a 62-year-old vendor based in Bulacan, noted that those who have the capacity to do so are lucky for they can afford to hoard a month’s worth of food and grocery. 

Tatay Luisito, 62 years old. Photo by Cris Vilchez

Suwerte yung mga maraming pera, nakakapag-stock ng maraming pagkain. Tugon ko naman sa bigas na sagot ng Presidente, hindi lang naman bigas lang ang kinakain ng mga Pilipino. Kung makakapag-supply sila ng pang araw-araw na pangangailangan, mas maganda,” Luisito said. 

(The rich are lucky since they can stock up on a lot of food. I wish we could get enough support from the President beyond the dole out of rice. After all, rice is not the only food we consume. If they can supply our everyday needs, that would be better.)

Courage on

One thing connects many of these hardworking vendors, drivers, and small-time business owners and it’s that life goes on for them despite the constant threat the coronavirus may bring. 

In this trying time, they are calling on the government to support those who are in need and are sick. 


Isang buwan din na gutom ang aabutin, ‘di naman pwede i-lockdown ang tiyan. Sana suportahan din kami ng gobyerno kasi sila naman nag-declare niyan eh,” juice vendor Agustina Taba said.

(It will be one month of hunger; it’s not like you can lock down the stomach. I hope the government will support us because they were the ones who declared the lockdown.)

How are you dealing with the novel coronavirus and the Metro Manila lockdown? Share your photos and tag @MovePH. – Rappler.com 

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