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In the blink of an eye, a lockdown was called. Initially, many thought all it would take was two weeks for it be over. However, a few months into one of the world’s longest Covid-19 lockdowns, how to keep food on the table became a question on everyone’s mind.
But in a gated community of enclaves in the south of the Philippines’ Metropolitan Manila, four friends came up with an idea that they had no clue would end up filling the pantries of many…at no monetary cost.
Sometime during the quarantine, Vince and Anne del Rosario realised that they had run out of beer for movie night. Because of the liquor ban, they thought of ringing their friends, Desi and Abi Arana, who lived in the same neighborhood, to ask if they had some extra beer. Desi and Abi said yes and that Vince and Anne could swing by to pick some up.
“Before rushing out, we made sure to grab an extra frozen fish to exchange (for the beers),” Anne told The Independent. “That was our first official barter.”
Come May, the family friends had already exchanged a few items when someone teased, “What if we made a Facebook page and invited other friends in the neighborhood?” According to Anne, “One thing led to another, and before we knew it, Desi set the page up on May 20, then we started to think of cool names. It didn’t take us long to come up with BF Barter Club.”
“BF Barter Club is a community of residents in the BF Homes Paranaque area, including other nearby villages, that engage in online bartering of used household and pre-loved items in exchange for necessities like food, groceries, etc without the use of cash,” Anne explained.
Items like furniture, clothes, books, toys, and vintage collectibles are posted on the group, with many trading them off for simple food items like a can of SPAM, a pack of Yakult (a yogurt drink), or even a tray of eggs. Some individuals even decide to give items to anyone who needs them.
Though this group may seem like it’s merely for trade, for many, it means so much more. “We put this up just for fun and to be able to focus our minds away from all the bad news regarding the pandemic, and to declutter as well,” explained Anne. “Then tearful messages started to trickle in from members who thank us profusely for creating the group. They say that because of BFBC, they were able to somehow put food on the table despite losing their pay checks. Some say this has helped them out of the brink of depression and has lifted their spirits. Some say they’re so glad to finally meet their enclave neighbors during meetups. Some are just so happy to get rid of all the clutter in their homes. So many heart-warming and inspiring stories we’re only realizing now.”
Though Filipinos are world-renown for their resilience, in recent times, some have questioned if the ability to adapt in extremely difficult situations is a good thing, as it can foster complacency when change is necessary. However, one cannot deny that in cases like these, with many living hand-to-mouth, the characteristic resilience paired with the high-regard for community, is a foundation that holds the Filipino heart steady even in the most outrageous storms.