Tagum City businesses boom in Palaro’s wake
TAGUM CITY, Philippines – In the sweltering summer heat, things are looking good for buko juice vendor Christian Mauricio as he plies his trade from his cart just outside the Rotary Park Basketball Court, where the grade school ballers battle it out in Palarong Pambansa 2015.
Usually found selling his ware near schools, he earns around P500 to P1,000 ($11.4-$22.8) on average for a whole day’s work.
“Yesterday,” remarked Mauricio in the vernacular, “I earned P1,500 ($34) even though I only went to the Sports Complex (where the opening games were held) at 2 PM and left at 6 PM.”
“Makabayad pud tag utang,” he smiled. (I could pay my debts.)
For many local businesses, the Palaro - with its estimated 13,000 participants, not to mention other guests who came to watch the games - is a chance to earn extra: with various establishments like malls, restaurants, and inns enjoying most of the swell.
The Palarong Pambansa is the largest grassroots sporting even in the Philippines that aims to develop the potentials of the youth to become responsible and globally competitive citizens. It brings young athletes from the 17 regions to compete in 17 sports events.
Although most of the delegates are housed in 20 public schools around the city, many of the 84 different hotels, inns, and pension houses with their 1,602-person capacity, were already booked as early as a month in advance.
In response to the onrush of visitors, around 40 dormitories, apartments, and even private houses, also opened their doors, with prices ranging from P500 per head for a 2-week stay, or P3,500 to P15,000 per month, depending on facilities and arrangements.
“We bridge the owners and guests,” explained Joyce Yacob of the City Tourism Office, who handles queries of tourist lodging.
According to City Tourism Council Chairperson Marlene Alastra, the Palaro will have a tremendous impact on the city.
“The revenues may be doubled, even tripled.”
Two of the 3 malls that are hosting some of the sports events have also increased traffic. As an incentive, the malls have agreed to offer discounts to Palaro players if they present their IDs.
Kim Navarro of the City Investment Promotions Office disclosed that they were able to persuade the malls, with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“We also managed to have the tricycles drivers and operators lower their fares from P9 to P8,” he added.
Even with the fare drop, tricycle drivers like Eddie Suarez are making the most of the Palaro, taking home an average of P300 from the constant movement of delegates and tourists on top of the usual city’s traffic.
“Nindot unta kaayo kung ing-ani, labi na ron na walay klase,” remarked the driver, who earns about P200 during regular days. (It would be really nice if it were like this all the time, especially now that there’s no classes.)
“I’ll make the most of it while it’s here,” he added in Visayan.
Aside from the local businesses which receive the brunt of the income, the local government is also expecting a large windfall, when these businesses renew their licenses and pay their taxes.
“Their income for this year will be declared next year,” explained Anne Jean Montoya of the city’s Business Permit and Licensing Office.
But not everyone is happy. For siomai vendor Aaron Sajulga, business has gone from bad to worse, with his usual P150 to P200 daily income getting smaller lately, even though he’s just next to Christian’s buko cart.
Sajulga explained that he tried to get in on the action at the Sports Complex during the opening program.
“Nindot unta didto, pero gibawalan mi.” (It would have been nice there, but we weren’t allowed inside.)
“Kanya-kanyang kayod lang ni.” (I guess everyone just has to hustle their own way.)
The national games ends on Saturday, May 9. - Rappler.com
Edwin Gutierrez Jr is the school paper adviser of Tagum City National High School.