“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sari-sari and OFW

As usually the departure time for the ride to the airport was far too early. My flight departure is 2.20 p.m., so I suggested to depart from home at 7.00 a.m. It is a drive of 5 hours usually, but because it is Sunday, I assume the traffic will not be as on business days.

But because of the heavy rain of the last days and a chance of flooding , it was decided that we needed more slack in our planning, therefore we would leave 6 a.m.

We took an alternative road, because from Urdaneta to Tarlac is not a pleasant road to drive. A lot of tri-cycles, buses, trucks even on Sunday. So we went via Malasiqui, Bambayang and Saint Ignatius to Tarlac. It is a quite road, easy to drive and some times nice views, especially just before Tarlac, small hills with rice terraces.

From Tarlac we took the new SCTEX toll-way to Dau and from there the NLEX to Manila. In total ca. 250 peso toll. Manila did have no traffic jams, so we arrived at NAIA at 10.30 a.m., where I had to wait an hour before the check-in gates were opened. This blog was written in the lounge and I will publish it when I am back in Bangkok later today.

The day before was a rainy day. Sometimes heavy, then less and then heavy again. It didn’t stop, even during last night it continued to rain. It was during the evening, just before we went to bed, that I made the above picture. It is in the sari-sari store of my mother in law (nanay), here she is together with my father in law (tatay for insiders). The store was build years ago and is attached to the house. The initial investment was done by my wife, when she was still working in Hong Kong.

What they sell in a sari-sari store is what people need from day to day, so a sachet with shampoo or washing powder, sucar, salt, a cup of cooking oil, a plastic bag with ice (she fills them with water every night), cigarettes by the piece, peanuts, beer, lemonade, etc. Every week or so they go to the super mall to replenish the store again.

It generates not a lot of money, but they can live from it, of course we have to help them now and then when they have to pay at once a “big” amount such as the electricity bill when we have been there for a while and used the aircon’s and the electric pump.

Apart from the money that comes in, it helps also to do something in their lives and it is a place to meet people and talk, so it has a social function as well. The whole family helps. When nanay goes to the market or bath room, then tatay will sit in (he is a retired tri-cycle driver), or the daughter when she is there, or one of the grand children.

At the moment there are 4 grand children living here. Nanay and tatay are raising them, bring them to school and pick them up again. Their parents are working on a contract in Macau. For them there is no work available in the Philippines, so they are now Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), like my wife did before in Hong Kong.

I guess that OFW and running a sari-sari store are the most common businesses in the Philippines for people who are not part of a larger business. Most of the sari-sari stores are sponsored by OFW family members, but many of them are out of business again after a year or so, because they have no business plan. My mother in law has, she is not delivering anymore on credit!!


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