An owner of a small private school in Caloocan City, 65-year-old Eloisa Gicar had been teaching for nearly 15 years when she was left with no choice but to go out in the streets to sell goods for her family’s survival.
The shift to distance learning has pushed Gicar to permanently close down Kingstown 1 Christian Academy in Bagumbong, Caloocan City in March, after the school struggled to adapt to the online and modular set-up for the approaching academic year. She added that the school also experienced a shortage of enrollees.
According to Gicar, the school’s savings were only enough to pay its water and electricity bills, as well as cover the salaries of teachers.
As a mother of 5, Gicar felt compelled to take extra measures to make a living, as the jobs of her husband and children were also struck down by the pandemic. The situation has forced Gicar to turn to vending in the streets of Caloocan City and Quezon City, as this was the only way she knew she could help supply her family's needs for the time being.
Gicar usually plies these streets every day, carrying food such as chips and bread, as well as a sign asking people to buy from her after losing her job as a private school teacher.
“Syempre nag-iisip ako: saan ako kukuha ng pagkain namin?” said Gicar as she shared her worries after losing her job.
(Of course, I was thinking: where will I get the means for our daily food?)
Gicar’s story went viral after a netizen named Karlo Ternora uploaded her photo on Facebook, showing her plea for help in Holy Spirit Drive, Quezon City, on Saturday, August 22.
Ternora was just filling his gas tank when Gicar suddenly approached him to sell her goods. To provide a bit of aid for the former teacher, he gave the change from his gas payment to Gicar.
“Ang sakit sa puso makita mga ganitong guro na nawalan ng trabaho at nagbebenta sa labas para makaraos,” said Ternora.
(It pains me to see teachers who've lost their job and have ended up vending for their survival.)
Should a teaching opportunity come her way, Gicar said that she would love to teach again as she finds joy in educating the youth.
“Natutuwa at masaya ako kapag nagtuturo.... Parang mga anak ko na ‘yung mga yun (students),” said Gicar.
(It gives me joy whenever I teach kids. I treat my students like my own children.)
Gicar aims to establish a small sari-sari store at home to have a stable source of income. This dream was realized when she received from different donors several grocery items and cash donations, which will be used for her sari-sari store.
"Ako po ay natutuwa sa lahat ng may mabubuting puso tulad 'nyo na nakakaunawa sa sitwasyon ko ngayon na walang trabaho. Maraming, maraming salamat po kasi kung hindi po dahil sa tulong 'nyo, baka nandoon pa po ako sa lansangan, nagtitinda," said Gicar.
(I am very happy and grateful to all the kindhearted people who understand my situation right now. Thank you so much to all of you. If not for your help, I might still be selling goods on the streets today.)
Among those who spearheaded donations for Gicar was Facebook group Quarantine Tribute Tips. They had sent grocery items needed to put up the sari-sari store, after member Ayla Conda saw the teacher's appeal on Rappler.
Conda immediately asked for financial help from the group and fulfilled Gicar’s wish by donating several grocery items. Conda personally went to Gicar's home on Thursday, August 27, to give her medicine such as vitamins.
"[I feel] joyful kasi hindi niya na kailangang maglakad from Caloocan City to Quezon City para maglako. Napakalaking relief nito para sa akin kasi she's vulnerable lalo na ngayong pandemic," said Conda.
(I feel joyful because she will no longer need to walk from Caloocan City to Quezon City to sell her goods. This is such a huge relief for me as she is also vulnerable [to disease] especially during the pandemic.)
Gicar is now busy preparing for the construction of her small sari-sari store at home. – Rappler.com
Lance Mejico is a Rappler volunteer from De La Salle University-Dasmariñas. He is an incoming junior taking up Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism. Currently, he serves as the Director for Programming and External Affairs of 95.9 Green FM, the official radio station of DLSU-Dasmariñas.