IN PHOTOS: Bankerohan vendors braving the food frontline for their survival

Apr. 01, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – As the city is on enhanced quarantine, vendors in the city’s main market, Bankerohan Public Market, brave the threat of the pandemic in order to make their family survive another day.

Despite orders from the city government to people to stay at home to protect themselves, many vendors say they are more afraid to starve rather than getting the virus.

A garbage collector in Bankerohan Public Market takes time to clean the area to ensure the cleanliness of the entire market.(Kath M. Cortez/

Laborers in the vegetable section of the Bankerohan Public Market unload squash and tomatoes.(Kath M. Cortez/

Tony 43, continues to sell dried fish (bulad) to provide the daily needs for his four children.

“I’m thinking of how are we going to survive, we don’t have any savings because we only rely on what we sell every day,” said Tony.

Age is just a number for Virgilio, 62, who has worked as a laborer in the market for more than a decade.

As a senior citizen, he admits he should be enjoying ‘retirement’ with his grandchildren. However, he has to work to help his wife who is sick. They do not have children to work to support them.

“I know I am old but I can still work. Our allowance as a senior citizen is not enough for us. We need to work to live,” he added.

Tony is in deep thought as he prepares the dried fish to sell in Bankerohan Public Market.(Kath M. Cortez/

Tatay Virgilio defies age as he carries several kilos of vegetables to a customer.(Kath M. Cortez/

27-year-old durian Ryan has to sell durian fruits after the company that employed him for constructing a building was halted because of the quarantine.

With a month-old baby, Ryan has to go to selling in order to buy milk for his child.

“I have no option but to work. Of course, I am also afraid, but I cannot just wait in my house for rations that are now not available,” Ryan said while trying to control his emotions.

Nestor, a steamed corn vendor in his 40s, said the quarantine has affected his sales.

“If we compare our income to the usual days, it’s really low. I can’t even sell all my corn now because people are in their houses and are afraid to go out. It’s really difficult to earn now” said Nestor.

Nestor has been selling corn since 2015 after he stopped his work as a tricycle driver. He used to take home more than P500 on a usual day.

A father of a newborn child, Ryan sits and waits for people to try the durian his selling.(Kath M. Cortez/

Nestor said the quarantine has reduced the usual number of people who buy his steamed corn.(Kath M. Cortez/

For mothers, work is a must to feed the family.

Merly, 35, has to leave her children at home to sell charcoal, while her husband drives a trisikad, to ensure they have food on the table.

“This will make sure the whole family will not starve if the situation will come worst,” said Merly.

Jenny, 22, used to work at an ukay-ukay store but is now selling facemasks.

“Because (ukay-ukay) is not allowed these days, I need to think of another way to earn every day,” she said.

With a small number of earnings to whole day work, Jenny said she can buy at least 3 kilos of rice for the family.

In her usual spot, Merly waits for customers who will buy charcoal she is selling.(Kath M. Cortez/

Jenny sells facemasks to passers-by in the streets of Bankerohan Public Market.(Kath M. Cortez/

The local government has started the distribution of about 50,000 relief packs in select barangays in the past two weeks. The food pack is good for a week.

City Mayor Sara Duterte assured the public in radio interviews that the city government has enough goods to support the needs of working class families in the midst of the region-wide lockdown that will continue for the next few weeks.

But many poor families are still waiting for their rations and the recently implemented food and medicine pass.

The region has now 61 confirmed cases of people infected with Covid-19, with 18 recoveries and nine deaths.(

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