From musician to pandesal baker? Pinoys switch jobs to make it through COVID-19 crisis

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2020 11:44 PM

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MANILA--A table manager turns into a delivery woman. A wedding photographer becomes a cargo delivery man. A filmmaker is now an online food seller. And a musician shifts to baking pandesal.

Some Filipinos who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown have started taking on different jobs in order to survive.

Mharlyn Flores was a table manager at a Perya ng Bayan PCSO outlet before the lockdown. Now, she is a rider of a delivery app, buying and delivering goods to customers.

"Taga-Bulacan lang ako, nagre-rent dito sa QC. Dito na ako inabutan ng lockdown. Sobrang hirap kasi malayo ako sa pamilya, wala akong makuhaan dito," Flores said.

Despite living alone and not obliged to support anyone, Flores said she used up all her money after not receiving her salary for 2 months. She is thankful she's able to earn money through deliveries.

"Malaking bagay. Nakakatulong sa gastusin araw-araw. Nakakaipon din ng mga pambayad ko sa mga bayarin ko. Wala naman akong ibang aasahan kundi sarili ko kasi malayo ang pamilya ko," Flores said.

Mark Surio worked as a freelance wedding photographer for 20 years. He said he was able to support his family and send his children to school through his job.

"Starting January 2020, ‘yung Taal Volcano eruption, nabawasan na ‘yung events namin and then last March ‘yung pandemic. Bawal ang mass gathering, walang events totally. Sa tingin ko kahit sa 2021, hindi pa masyadong makaka-recover ang events industry because ang mga clients, magre-recover pa lang sa financial problems nila" Surio said.

Now Surio delivers boxes of goods for two online delivery apps.

"Naisipan kong mag-Lalamove delivery and Lazada delivery partner to provide the needs of my family, pang-araw-araw na pagkain, parang survival income, to pay for the loans, nakaka-survive naman eventually," he said.

“Nagpalit lang naman ng damit na isinuot, pero eventually, kumikita pa rin, mas maliit nga lang pero at least nakaka-survive kami."

Surio said there are risks that come with his new job, but he said this is the only way to earn his living.

"Medyo scary lang kasi at the end of the day, makikipaglaro ako sa mga anak ko, eh earlier portion of the day, kung sino-sino ang nakakasalamuha kong tao, pero wala tayong magagawa kasi kailangan kumita ng pera," he said.

Jico Umali is a filmmaker who runs his own video production house. He said projects stopped coming because of the pandemic.

"May realization sa film industry na because of this pandemic, lahat natigil. It’s a tough realization na, in a world na kailangang kumapit sa pinaka-essential, hindi ganoon ka-essential ang video production," Umali said.

From directing TV commercials, Umali now sells bacon on his Facebook page.

"Because of the pandemic, napilitan tayong lahat na mag-adjust, makahanap ng other ways to strive," he said.

Umali said he had a deep realization to take pride in what one does no matter how big or small it is.

"Being able to start something no matter how humble or how small, dapat mag-take ka ng pride doon, you should feel success, satisfaction dahil sa pandemic hindi ka napigil. You’re able to adjust and find something," he said.

“I feel na hindi siya dapat ikinahihiya that we should all be proud of our situation during this pandemic kasi sama sama tayong pinagdadaanan natin ang pandemic na ito."

Boy Callado is an all-around musician. He can sing, play the guitar and drums. But the gigs were abruptly halted during the lockdown.

"Tigil lahat, wala namang bars na magbubukas dahil bawal pa. Dikit-dikit ang mga tao sa isang table na maliit. Hindi naman puwedeng gawin ngayon ‘yun," Callado said.

He has shifted from a musician to a pandesal baker.

"Nakaisip kami ng wife ko na magpandesal tayo. ‘Yung pandesal mismo kapag hindi naman nabili lahat, at least, may panlamang tiyan kami."

The income is not the same but enough to put food on the table.

"Sa hirap ng buhay ngayon, ang mga tao, wala na ring pambili ng pandesal. Imbes na ibili ng pandesal, ibibili na lang ng pang-lunch nila. ‘Yung naiipon namin para ibili pa rin ng ingredients para ‘pag may um-order. Sana mawala na ang pandemic at matuloy na ang aming rock and roll," he said.

According to Dr. Violate Bautista, a clinical psychologist and director of UP PsycServ, these inspiring stories show the resilience of Filipinos to rise above trying times.

"Nakikita natin kumakambyo ang mga tao. Pumapasok sila sa mga larangan na hindi naman iyon ang kanilang training at saka exposure. And to my mind, that is an indication of the person’s resilience, emotional hardness and sense of responsibility," she said.

Bautista said there is no shame in losing a job during this time or do other things not related to their former jobs.

"Kaya ka walang trabaho ngayon, hindi dahil sa mahina kang klase na professional. Malinaw sa 'yo na ito ang ibig sabihin ng pandemic. Nagbago ang landscape, merong mga bagay na dating nandiyan na ngayon ay humina o nawala. Mahusay ang mga tao na hindi ipipilit ang nakagawian pero sa halip sila ay hahanap ng paraan para responsibly maalagaan nila ang kanilang pamilya, mahal sa buhay at sarili at hindi natutulog ang oras sa kanila," she said.

"And as we go along the way, we can find ourselves even becoming a better person, stronger ang character, matatag ang loob at matibay ang paniwala sa sarili at kapuwa at sa Diyos."