TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Despite bad weather conditions and the threat of a storm, entrepreneurs in Leyte are optimistic their sales will climb as Pope Francis’ arrival nears.
According to retailers, business establishments exhibited an increase in sales due to the high demand of products and services ahead of the pontiff’s arrival on January 17.
This is in contrast with the view of some business people that the papal visit on January 15-19, which has been declared as non-working holidays, will dampen business activity.
Papal memorabilia has become a staple in the market in recent days and an influx of traders outside the province has increased market activity.
“May nalang kay ming-abot ang Pope kay mingdaghan ang among pwede ibaligya. Pangitaon man gud sa mga taw ang pwede mahimong souvenir kay panalagsa man lang mu-ari ang Papa,” said Norhata Igpit, an entrepreneur from Surigao who came to Tacloban to sell her goods.
(It’s a good thing that the Pope is coming, because we now have more to sell. People look for souvenirs, since a pope rarely comes here.)
The official papal souvenirs, as approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, are manufactured by the Sacred Heart Seminary headed by Father Kim Margallo.
Proceeds from their products will be used to shoulder some expenses incurred by the Archdiocese for the Pope’s visit.
The most in-demand products in the market are transparent bags, printed shirts, mugs, key chains, and umbrellas, all of which depict Francis in various images.
According to Julio Lozada, an entrepreneur in Tacloban, January is a lean month for businesses because people tend to limit their expenses after the yuletide season. The Pope’s arrival has created an opportunity in the market not just for papal memorabilia but also for service providers such as hotels, restaurants, and transportation companies.
“The Pope’s arrival really helped Tacloban’s business sector to resurrect after the different catastrophes which devastated our province. It created a positive effect on the market because everyone, regardless of his or her religion is presented with an opportunity to earn,” he said.
Most merchandise available in the market are relatively low priced ranging from P100 ($2.50*) – P500 ($12).
The demand for such products is expected to remain at a high level for a few weeks after the Pope’s departure.
Construction industries also exhibited an increase in demand since massive repairs and constructions were established by the local government prior to the Pope’s arrival, Lozada further explained. – Rappler.com
Clifford F. Colibao and Michelou E. Guisihan are MovePH citizen journalists from Leyte covering the visit of Pope Francis to the province.
Join Rappler in a 100-day countdown to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines: a journey from the Vatican to Tacloban. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PopeFrancisPH!
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