Vendors struggle to work, fight for survival in General Santos’ sun-baked streets

Rommel Rebollido

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Vendors struggle to work, fight for survival in General Santos’ sun-baked streets

NEED TO WORK Norberto Bores, 75, braves the searing heat of the sun, selling popsicles every day, wearing only a baseball cap and a jacket to protect his frail body.

Rommel Rebollido/Rappler

The General Santos City government says there's no need for the city to be placed under a state of calamity because the measures in place are cushioning the impact of the El Niño phenomenon

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Norberto Bores pedals his bicycle in the sweltering streets of General Santos, bearing the weight of not just a box of popsicles but also the burden of survival under the scorching sun. 

As he navigates through the city’s deserted lanes, the 75-year-old popsicle vendor shows the struggles faced by many residents amid rising temperatures, where livelihoods are threatened, prices soar, and hope flickers in the face of a changing climate.

​“There’s not much time for me to rest. I need to earn money for my food and medicine,” Bores told Rappler on Thursday, April 25.

When the heat becomes unbearable, he just looks for shade, Bores quipped as he rode his bicycle with a large styrofoam box full of popsicles.

“Kung mahurot na tanan, naa koy P500. Kung dili mahurot, ugma na pud,” he said.

(If I sell everything in the box, I make P500. If not, I will sell again tomorrow.)

He said the situation now is no different from the post-World War II era when he was a kid. But even with the searing sun, there are more days that Bores is not able to sell all his three-for-P20 popsicles.

Like the popsicle vendor on a bicycle, many residents in this coastal city opt to stay indoors to avoid the scorching heat of the sun, a daily occurrence in this usually sunny city along Sarangani Bay.

As temperatures rise during the day, streets begin to be deserted. Most tricycle drivers see it as impractical to go out with the heat and limited chance to get passengers.

“It’s too hot to be out there, there are not many passengers and fuel prices have gone up again,” 40-year-old tricycle driver Gerry Tobias said on Thursday.

The harsh weather, he said, makes it difficult for him to earn enough for his family’s daily needs.

At night, when there is a better chance to do business without the blistering heat. But balut (duck embryo) vendors are faced with a lack of supply, mainly because of the effects of the long dry spell.

Many balut (duck embryo) vendors here bemoaned the scarce supply of balut, which pushed prices to P25 a piece from P18.

The limited supply and increased prices drove sales down, balut vendor Arnulfo Rafael said. 

“Gamay na lang ang kita (I now have less income),” he said.

Rafael gets his supply of balut from Esperanza town in Sultan Kudarat, which was recently declared as being in a state of calamity due to the damage to crops, livestock, and poultry caused by the dry spell.

In the village of Baluan, the once vibrant park Balutan sa Baluan is not as lively anymore. Many balut stalls have closed shop due to lack of supply, affecting the livelihood of residents in the village, said Baluan village chief Dennis Besa.

Victor Vergado, president of the Baluan Duckers’ Association, said the dry spell being experienced has adversely affected the production of balut in their village.

“Wala nang mapangitlogan ang mga bibe dahil nasira ang mga palayan (The rice fields where the ducks lay their eggs have been destroyed),” he said, adding that they were expecting the situation to worsen.

On Tuesday, April 23, General Santos City Administrator Franklin Gacal said they do not see putting the city under a state of calamity despite the prevailing heat and dry weather conditions.

Gacal said of the city’s 11,000 hectares of agricultural land, only about 100 hectares have been affected by the dry spell.

In a social media post, Gacal said the local government has put in place El Niño mitigation and adaptation measures as early as 2023. The measures, he said, cushioned the impact of the El Niño phenomenon in General Santos that a state of calamity declaration became unnecessary.

Meanwhile, Binrio Binan, head of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in General Santos, said the dry spell is already waning.

In a media forum on April 17, Binan said PAGASA sees an 83% chance the weather conditions would soon transition to “neutral conditions,” and rainfall can be expected. He said they were also expecting rain by May.

“No more high heat index, no more intense heat conditions, but we have to prepare for landslides and flooding,” Binan said. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!