Divisoria Vendors Share Their Sentiments After Their Displacement
by Sherry Tadeja, July 26, 2019 3:25pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel
Newly elected Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has been in many headlines since his first week in office—on a positive light at that. One of the highlighted changes he has made is the clearing operations of congested roads in Manila due to street vendors. Divisoria, the biggest marketplace of cheap wares in the city, is one of the targeted areas of the clearing operations. With this, street vendors were forced to move and pack their goods, resulting to clear roads around Divisoria, Binondo, and other neighboring areas.
The operation divided the citizens. On one side, people are applauding Moreno's initiative of acting change in the capital city; on the other are people questioning the welfare of displaced vendors. It stirred questions and sentiments from “where can they continue their business?” to “can they even continue their business?”
As of today, things are clear—literally and figuratively—in Divisoria. The vendors can’t open their makeshift stands lest with a proper place and legal papers.
They’re along the sidewalks now; their goods covered either in plastic or banig secured in laundry pins and other knick-knacks. They are in groups, seated and in conversation with each other. They're like mice waiting for the cats, or in this case, Manila authorities, to go away. Here’s what they have to say.
“‘To naghihintay kami. Pag umalis na sila magaayos na kami. Eh minsan anong oras na sila, minsan buong araw sila nandito kaya hindi kami nakakapagbenta."
- Marites, 34, Umbrella Vendor
“‘Pag ilang buwan naman na, aalis na rin sila. ‘Pag wala na sila siguro pwede na ulit kami makapwesto."
- Wes, 27, General Merchandise Vendor
"Maliit na pwesto lang sa gilid hinihingi namin, ‘yun lang naman. Eh, wala naman sila sa kalagayan namin, paano kami magha-hanapbuhay? Sana binigyan nila kami ng pwesto."
- Flora, 45, Hair Accessory Vendor
“Kung pwede lang ibenta ng patayo ‘to eh ginawa ko na. Kaso mabigat eh. Makita ka lang nila na nag-aayos, pupuntahan ka na agad kaya dito lang muna kami. Mahal naman upa, hindi naman ako malaki kumita kaya kahit ‘yung sa gilid ng kalsada nagbenta na ako. Kaso kahit sa gilid bawal na, tiis-tiis nalang muna.”
- Jesel, 50, Rug Vendor
It's easy to conclude the changes in Divisoria are a cause for celebration; a celebration, however, that wasn’t meant for the sidewalk vendors. The reality is, their main source of income is being taken away. They are left with hard decisions to make to be able to bring food to their tables. We can only hope for a sit-down dialogue between the Manila government and the vendors to create a solid plan where both parties can benefit. After all, they are Manila citizens and their welfare matters, too.