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  • Nica Lucero

What #SupportLocal Should Mean

I always see kuya in this area at Ortigas. A crutch in his left arm and a few pieces of walis in his right. I’ve been wanting to buy from him ever since but it’s either the stoplight won’t allow me or I hesitate and insist that I buy someplace else. Today I finally rolled my windows down and asked kuya for the price.

“Ma’am 280 po.”

I paused for a bit. Ang mahal.

“Dalawa na bilhin niyo ma’am last na po to. Kahit 500 na lang para makauwi na din po ako.”

I was able to look at him up close. It was more clear — a crutch in his left arm and 2 pieces of walis in his right. What also became clear was his struggle, effort, and the smile from his eyes despite the situation.

“Ma’am hand made po kaya may kamahalan.” I bought one and gave him 300. I asked how many can he sell in a day. “Minsan wala, minsan meron. Depende po kung may katulad niyo na bibili,” he said while subtly laughing.

It would have been lovely to talk to him more and ask questions but time didn’t permit. We said our goodbyes as we reminded each other “ingat.” When he left I immediately said, “grabe, ang mahal.” But when I handed him that 280 pesos, I know I wasn’t just paying for a mere walis. I was paying for his time strolling the streets despite his inability. I was paying for his hunger to make money and bring something back home to his family. I was paying for his commitment, energy, and sweat that he puts into his work.

Let’s not forget those whose Facebook pages are the streets and whose pub-mats are made from carton. I hope when we advocate to support local, we include people like kuya — those who flee to the road and resort to the eskinitas because that’s all they can afford for their small business. Supporting local should also mean supporting them.

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