TACLOBAN CITY- Following the devastation caused by supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas on November 8, 2013, local drivers of public utility vehicle in Tacloban City have a common goal: start anew and rebuild their sources of livelihood.
Due to financial constraints and lack of government support, however, most of them encountered difficulties in achieving this goal. “Base sa obserbasyon namin, pinansyal talaga ang problema ng mga tricycle driver dito sa Tacloban. Madami pong nagmumungkahi ng gusto nilang mga programa. Pero ang problema, wala kaming pondo,” said Ferdinand Lomuntad, treasurer of the Tacloban Federation of Motor Cab for Hire Drivers and Operators, Inc. (TAFEMDO). Cash-strapped, TAFEMDO members often resort to borrowing from “5-6” loan sharks because they could not avail of loans from government or from private banks. “Karamihan sa amin, umuutang talaga sa 5-6. Kasi sa 5-6, madali basta may kinikita ka, makakabayad ka. Kaso, sa 5-6, ang interes mahal. Pangalawa, kinabukasan ay maniningil na. Hindi na umiikot ang perang inutang mo, parang pinahiram ka lang. Yan ang mahirap,” said Lomuntad. Fortunately, he said, they found an opportunity for real change under Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s PTK (Presyo-Trabaho-Kita) lending program. TAFEMDO received P200,000 worth of financial assistance from the senator’s Anti 5-6 program last June 2014. After almost a year, they were able to set up “TODA Tindahan Harampangan Ug Paaraydan,” a small commercial area with three stores: a shop that sells spare parts, a mini grocery, and a tricycle repair shop.
The federation’s officers initially used the money to provide loans to their members at five percent interest. By the end of 2014, they earned enough to build the “tindahan”. “Matagal na naming pangarap na magkaroon ng sariling hanap-buhay ang aming pederasyon. Kung wala ang tulong ni Kuya Alan, hindi sana kami magkakaroon ng inisyal na pondo para sa aming pangarap na negosyo,” Lomuntad said. Upon finding out about the TAFEMDO’s success, Sen. Cayetano said this is the kind of change that people need to feel the benefits of our growing economy. The organization, he added, should be quick in bringing more change and assistance to its members with the help of the lending program.
“Small entrepreneurs like the TAFEMDO members can do great things to help their communities if we give them the support they need,” Cayetano said. “I hope that the federation continues to use the funds they have to create real change in Tacloban, the kind of change that makes lives better.” “Kailangan nating baguhin ang sistema sa gobyerno, huwag perwisyuhin ang mga tao, at padaliin ang buhay ng mga Pilipino,” the senator added. The federation continues to provide loans with low interest to its members. In addition, they can also avail of spare parts, repair services, and groceries from the Tindahan that can be paid in installment with minimum interest.
Moreover, the wives of TAFEMDO members are also organizing a women’s group through the PTK program. They are now planning on helping members avail of loans from financial institutions, including possible housing loans from Pag-Ibig Fund.