By Jason Andrew Vila

Two years after the pandemic hit, people are still trying to recover from the damaging effects it had not only on the health of the people but on the businesses that are trying to grow before it struck. A situation that the vendors and farmers from the Antipolo Farmers’ Market are still in today.

Jenniline Montero, a farmer and one of the vendors at the Antipolo Farmers’ Market in Sumulong Park – which is a project of the Department of Agriculture to help promote and sell the crops of the farmers directly to the consumers – shared how they can still feel the effects of the pandemic today.

 “Noong hindi pa nag papandemic, maganda ang kita namin pero nung nag pandemic, halos 1/4th na lang ang kita naming,” Montero said. The market now is open from Friday to Sunday.

The Market opens at 4 AM and Montero and the other farmers sleep there on the site to sell their produce for the whole weekend. When they are not in the Market, they still can’t rest as they have to till their fields and take care of the plants they grow so they have more to sell the next weekend.

She also shared that they have to brave not only the pandemic but also the typhoons that hit the area. They end up taking a loss every time a typhoon ravages the crops they grow.

Despite that, Montero is still thankful for the opportunity they have. Income from the crops they sell in the market help them with their living expenses like their daily food and to pay for their monthly utilities. Before, they only relied on the yield her husband made.

She also added that the crops they are growing are seasonal so if a disaster strikes, they find it hard to scrape by.

Before the pandemic, they used to earn up to ₱10 thousand after the three days they sold in the market. But right now, they just earn ₱5 thousand for the same number of days.

She also wished that they be told ahead of time about changes in mandatory prices so that they can adjust accordingly and not be shocked whenever there is a price change and they’d have to grit their teeth to take the blow.

We can help our local farmers like Jenniline by patronizing their stores and supporting our local products. This helps not only them but we, the consumers as well since we get to make food with fresh and healthy ingredients.

Montero’s story is only one of those from the farmer’s market which shows us that even though the pandemic may be too far from where we are now, not everyone has recovered yet and is still feeling the effects of the months of quarantine. We can still support them in their business now and not just let them become echoes from the past like the effects of the pandemic that lingered.