Some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Abu Dhabi have come up with a unique way to start an aid initiative that has now inspired various residents from all over the emirate to help—through a barter system.
A group of Filipinos—Yen Cantero, James Morales, and Lloyd Arceo—who are currently under no-work-no-pay have set up Traders Community Abu Dhabi (TCAD), a friendly platform in Abu Dhabi that offers barter as a system to help participants trade goods and services without using money.
Through this group, members have begun using the system to gather essential goods, which they then distribute to other Filipinos who are affected by the economic effects of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“We wanted to maximize our free time to help our fellow kababayans in Abu Dhabi. I, too, am currently on unpaid leave but I know na may mas higit na nangangailangan. That’s why we decided to create a platform that would be a perfect avenue for trade—goods in exchange of goods. We wanted to bring back the beauty of trade in these trying times,” said Arceo, who works as a PR and communications specialist.
The group has inspired other Filipinos to help, with a lot of them donating the goods that they have gathered in the trade in order to help Arceo and his team provide more packs to affected OFWs. Some, on the other hand, directly give them clothes, shoes, bags as donations. The team, according to member Jan Mae Paguirigan, then posts the items on TCAD page to make them available for barter in exchange of essential goods.
The 29-year-old accountant, who also handles the group’s social media postings, said TCAD became a bridge to help Filipinos deeply affected by the pandemic.
“We only started bartering at first, we barter our own items kapalit ng mga goods, hanggang sa marami ang na-inspire na mga kaibigan at katrabaho. Sumunod na din silang mag-barter kapalit ng goods. ‘Yong iba ay ibinibigay na sa amin ang mga ito to distribute,” said Paguirigan.
She added that they started the initiative because they heard heartbreaking stories of Filipinos who have truly taken a heavy blow due to being left redundant, or being put under unpaid leave—with some of them having babies to feed.
“Araw-araw ang daming humihingi sa amin ng tulong, nakakadurog ng puso to read and hear the stories of those who terminated, who were put under no-work-no-pay, those who are on visit visas, those who have babies, and those who were left with no choice but to go back to the Philippines because walang wala na talaga sila,” she said.
The group, she said, is now distributing relief packs to those in need all over Abu Dhabi—specifically in Najda, Corniche, Hamdan, and Baniyas.
Arceo, meanwhile, urged other Filipinos to help, noting that there are now various ways to lend a hand as well as reach out to affected residents thanks to social media.
“Marami pong challenges ang kinakaharap natin ngayon, but these challenges should also be the perfect avenue to bring back the essence of bayanihan. We give help regardless of race, skin or gender. We give help not for popularity but for the sole reason that it gives us happiness to help—nothing more. ‘Wag po tayong mahiyang mag tanong sa TCAD should you wish to help us,” he stressed.
“We can still help despite of what is happening with the world, even though we’re having our own difficulties in life. Malayo po ang mapupuntahan ng tulong maliit man o malaking ito,” added Paguirigan.
Paguiran and Arceo also asked affected Filipinos not to lose faith, and not to be afraid to ask for help at this time.
“Just keep the faith po, magpakatatag tayo lalo sa panahong ito. Huwag na huwag po tayong susuko dahil may awa ang Diyos,” Paguiran said.
“Huwag po mahiyang humingi ng tulong kasi yun po ang katotohanan. Hindi po kakulangan sa pagiging tao if we ask for help. It is normal. Kaya po, andito lang kami para po tumulong sa inyo,” Arceo added.