The business disruption caused by the COVID -19 pandemic struck the fragile finances of small businesses. Though it has affected people from all walks of life, it has unfortunately impacted the lower segment of the society whose means of livelihood were compromised due to the imposition of activity and travel restrictions.
Bernaditha Broncano, 39-year old and a native of Iriga City, and Cenon Cerdan, 58-year old of Buhi, Camarines Sur, were not spared of the massive fiscal dislocations. They struggled to stay afloat for almost two years since the onset of the COVID shock.
As COVID continue to affect small businesses, Nanay Bernaditha and Tatay Cenon never gave up as they see a ray of hope that one day they will eventually recover from the challenges brought by the global pandemic.
DOLE’s "Bikecination" Project
Mandated to promote employment opportunities, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through its Bicol regional and provincial office in Camarines Sur, has recently turned-over a total of P450,000 worth of livelihood packages to the affected small business players.
Each beneficiary received a total of P25,000 worth of DOLE’s “Bikecination” program package which include bicycles and other accessories like helmet, insulated bag, rear and front light, vest, rain coat and water tumbler. They also received cellphones and P4,000 worth of cellphone load.
In a press statement, DOLE Regional Director Ma. Zenaida Angara-Campita said the bicycles are not just for short distance transportation but also for a livelihood opportunity, and a tool for expanding the entrepreneurial ventures of small businesses.
"Ang mga biseklitang ito ay instrumento na nagpapatunay ng patuloy na pagmamalasakit ng DOLE sa mga manggagawang labis na naapektuhan ang kabuhayan dulot ng pandemya. Nawa’y magamit ninyo sa pagpapalago ng inyong mga negosyo nang sa gayon ay mas marami pa tayong matulungan na tao sa gitna ng krisis na kinakaharap ng buong mundo (These bicycles are testimonies of DOLE’s concern over our workers whose livelihood were gravely affected by the pandemic. We hope that they will make use of it to grow their businesses in the midst of the continuing pandemic)," Campita explained.
Grateful and blessed
John Nomar Serdan, 20 years old and the eldest among the brood of three Cenon's children, said that their family is grateful and blessed for the opportunity to be one of the recipients of DOLE’s Bikecination project.
“We’re so grateful for this opportunity. The bicycle will help us in delivering the food to the customers. We can also receive online orders from the cellphone, aside from using the gadget in our e-load business. Our small food business admittedly suffered a huge setback during the pandemic,” John narrated.
For almost 20 years, both of John’s parents – Maricris, 45 years old and Cenon are street food vendors. Their family’s small business was the key instrument for them to study. John temporarily delivers the food while on school break from Bicol University where he is taking up Bachelor of Education.
His two other siblings, Kristel Ann is currently taking her General Academic Strand at St. Bridget School while Marc Bryant, the youngest is in Grade 8 at St. Joseph Academy.
“We owe what we have now to our industrious parents and to our small business that they both help grow through the years. Currently, we are also accepting small catering requests to help augment our family’s income. The bicycle that we received from DOLE will definitely add up to our earnings,” John said.
Like John, Melody Broncano, a 19-year old student from Baao Community College (BCC) and the eldest child, is also grateful after her mother, Bernaditha, received the same livelihood package from DOLE.
Tatay Cenon and Nanay Bernaditha are among the 18 beneficiaries of DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) which aims to lessen the burden of workers across the region who were affected by the continuing pandemic.
They too, already completed their two doses of vaccine and are waiting for their booster shots.
“The Bikecination project provides a bicycle to qualified applicants. They can use this for delivery and food services, along with a mobile phone and load wallet to engage in e-loading business. These were given to vaccinated vendors. Through this program, we are also encouraging those who have completed the two doses of COVID-19 vaccines to avail of the said assistance,” Campita said.
RD Campita enjoined the vaccinated vendors/ recipients to also help the government spread awareness on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccines for the safety of the people of Camarines Sur. The more people are vaccinated, the faster that the province can recover from economic loss. (With a report from ACollantes and CAndalis-PIA5/Camarines Sur)