Everyday, for the last 15 years, Nerissa Punzalan would ply the busy streets of Makati to sell kakanin, palabok, and the ubiquitous banana cue. Despite her meager earnings, Punzalan took pride in what she does for a living. It’s what kept her family from losing everything during the most challenging years of their lives.
“Eto pong pagtitinda ko ang talagang bumuhay sa amin ngayong pandemic,” she said. “Masaya po ako na nakapag-provide ako para sa pamilya ko. Kahit papano, naitawid namin.”
Prior to the pandemic, selling merienda used to be a mere side job for Punzalan. But her husband, a carpenter, lost his job when construction activities halted during the nationwide lockdown in 2020.
“Bilang asawa, hindi naman po ako puwedeng magreklamo na nawalan ng trabaho ang mister ko. Kaya nga kami magkatuwang sa buhay, ‘di ba? So noong wala siyang hanapbuhay, ako ang dumiskarte para sa pamilya,” she said.
One of Punzalan’s regular customers is 61-year-old Lydia Abalos, a mother of five and wife of a jeepney driver who also lost his job during the lockdown. To provide for her family, Abalos meanwhile dusted off her old kawa and began selling lutong ulam to her neighbors.
“Diskarte po talaga ang importante para makaraos tayo,” Abalos said. “Kung ano ‘yong skills mo – parang ako, marunong akong magluto – iyon ang gamitin mo para makatulong sa pamilya mo. Samahan mo na rin ng tiwala sa Diyos. Araw-araw akong nagro-rosary.”
Punzalan is a beneficiary of #BrigadangAyalaKaakay provides 12-week’s supply of rice, fresh vegetables, canned goods, and bread to 10,000 families across Metro Manila.
“AC Health is delighted to support #BrigadangAyalaKaakay, which targets those who lost their jobs and sources of income during the pandemic. We are inspired by the stories of resilience we heard from our beneficiaries today. We are very happy that we were able to augment their needs through this program,” AC Health President and CEO Paolo Borromeo said.
Borromeo led the #BrigadangAyalaKaakay food distribution at Our Lady of La Paz Parish in Flordeliz, Makati. With him were Generika Drugstore President & CEO Yet Abarca and QualiMed Health Network President & CEO Jimmy Ysmael.
Punzalan said the weekly food supply enabled her to save up and buy time as her husband was looking for a job.
“Ngayon kasi, nagbubukas na uli ‘yong mga construction site. Sobrang laking pasasalamat namin sa Kaakay dahil hindi kami nagutom noong mga panahong walang trabaho ang asawa ko,” she said.
“Masaya po talaga kami dahil parang nabigyan kami ng fresh start,” she added.
Abalos, also a Kaakay beneficiary, meanwhile said senior citizens like herself are thankful for drugstores like Generika, where they can buy affordable yet effective medicines, vitamins, and food supplements.
“Hindi naman kailangang mahal ang gamot. Ang importante, abot-kaya at mabisa,” she said. “Dahil sa sariwang gulay mula sa Kaakay at sa vitamins ng Generika, malusog kami sa pamilya. At siyempre, nandiyan palagi iyong dasal, kaya walang nagkakasakit.”
“Sabi ko nga, ‘di ba? Rosary at vitamin C,” she said.