Sari-sari store owner and street food vendor Milagros Estopin from Navotas City uses the free bicycle and accessories she received through DOLE BikeCINATION Project to deliver orders to her customers. The Department’s package of assistance also included an android cellphone and electronic load wallet worth 5,000 pesos, which also enabled her to kick start an e-loading business.

 

The Department of Labor and Employment’s Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) continuously assist the vulnerable and marginalized workers to help improve their socio-economic well-being.

Among the beneficiaries of the said program is Milagros Estopin, an entrepreneur from Navotas City who tailors laboratory gowns and scrub suits for medical staff of the Manila Central University (MCU) in Caloocan City. With her drive to succeed, she also opened her own Sari-sari (variety) store and ventured to street food vending with her best seller fried “Baga ng Baka” (cow’s lungs).

Things went smoothly until the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

Estopin was not ready to give up her daytime job and business.

“Paano na ang pamilya ko nito kung titigil ako sa pagtatrabaho at kung mawawalan ako ng pagkakakitaan?” she said.

In an effort to keep their business afloat amidst the health crisis while ensuring compliance with the government’s quarantine protocols, some establishments in the private sector had set up alternative working arrangements.

Estopin’s supervisor adopted the same idea.

“Naapektuhan po ang aming negosyo ganoon rin po ang aking pinapasukan na trabaho. Sa kabutihang palad, pumayag ang aking amo na mag work-from-home at sa bahay ako nagtahi ng mga lab gowns and scrub suit,” she said.

While the new working arrangement allowed her to continue earning while adjusting to the new normal, she felt that her efforts were insufficient to fully provide for her children.

Fortunately, she got a call from the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) of the City Government of Navotas who encouraged her to apply for the DOLE’s BikeCINATION Project.

“Tinawagan po ako ni Sir Kim (PESO Navotas Staff)…inalok n’ya po ako kung gusto ko sumali,” she said.

Under its DILP, the BikeCINATION Project is the labor department’s contribution to boost economic recovery by incentivizing workers who have completed COVID-19 vaccines through provision of free bikes and other related accessories that can be used for delivery service or business.

Estopin was one of the beneficiaries who were given a package of livelihood assistance under said project on October 5, 2021. The DOLE aid came with a free bike with related accessories, android phone, and 5,000 pesos worth of electronic load wallet.

Determined to be a diligent recipient of the government aid, Estopin immediately launched her e-loading business, improved her street food vending by also accepting online orders, and delivered ordered goods to customers using the DOLE grant.

“Nagbebenta na rin kami online ng ‘baga ng baka’ gamit ang bisikleta na bigay ng DOLE. Yun din po [bisikleta] ang ginagamit naming pang-deliver ng mga order,” she said.

The DOLE assistance enabled Estopin to earn 33,600 pesos per month—earning twice as much as she used to make in a month which was then approximately 14,000 pesos.

“Malaking bagay po sa aming pamilya ang tulong galing sa DOLE…nagkaroon din kami ng pandagdag puhunan…kaya’t maraming maraming salamat po.”

She also advised existing and potential beneficiaries of the Department to not waste the government assistance when given an opportunity.

“Kapag binigyan po kayo ng tulong galing sa gobyerno, matuto tayong mag-ipon. Huwag agad ito gastusin ng basta-basta. Magsipag tayo,” she said.

END / Jalen Lewis Boco and Angelica Fresnoza