Paeng leaves LB vendors scrambling for livelihood

by Chelsea Naredo

Local vendors in Los Baños are still recovering from the effects of severe tropical storm Paeng that ravaged the town on October 2, forcing closure of some establishments for several days.

Nearly a month after the heavy rains and strong winds subsided, the local vendors of Los Baños are still trying to pick up the pieces. Among their biggest problems is dealing with the soiled goods left behind in the typhoon’s aftermath.

“Kagaya po nung pag pick-up po namin sa Batangas, kasi lalo’t pong maraming natumbang puno noon, hindi ho kami makabili. Mga ilang days, mga four days din po bago kami ulit nakapagtinda. Tapos yung iba rin ho naming paninda na nasira noon gawa nang ilang araw hong hindi nadeliver, lalo’t bumaha po dito, nabasa po yung ilan,” said Evangeline Cristobal, a fruit and vegetable vendor, in an interview on November 20.

The vendors said they prepared quickly for the typhoon, making sure that perishable products were stored in dry areas and properly secured to avoid flood and rain water. However, the storm still had an impact on their businesses.

Cristobal, for instance, only worked until noon before closing up their shop as the weather conditions worsened. “Nag half day po kami. Nagstart po kami ng umaga, then mga 1pm po kami natapos noong nagsisimula na po baha at ang lakas na po ng hangin,” he said.

He was unable to open their shop for four more days in the aftermath of the typhoon, resulting in low funds and further losses due to soiled products.

Quiel Cielo, another fruit vendor, revealed that they were also greatly affected by the loss of water and electricity — a situation that lasted for a few days even after the typhoon had left the Philippine area of responsibility.

As most of their products were put in refrigerators and freezers, they were not able to sell those as well.

“Nung pagbalik po namin, eh ‘di syempre nabawasan po yung puhunan kasi ilang araw ho kaming walang kita. Ayun, nagsimula uli kami sa maliit na puhunan hanggang sa mapalago namin kaya medyo mahirap din po,” Cielo said.

The vendors had no choice but to start from scratch after the typhoon. Not only did they have to pick up new goods, but many also had to repair their shops after their roofs were destroyed by the heavy winds and rains. They have been gaining back the funds lost in the days after “Paeng,” but it has been a slow process made more difficult by the lack of assistance from the government.

Cielo said that the only help they received from the local government was an augmented water supply. Cristobal, on the other hand, mentioned that they did not receive any help whatsoever.

The aftermath of the typhoon shows the importance of adequate funding for the preparation, awareness, and effects of potentially hazardous natural phenomena in order to prevent large-scale damage.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), severe tropical storm Paeng left 121 people dead in the Philippines. It caused a combined damage of PHP 1.3 Billion in Agriculture, and severely affected the operation of local commerce in our country.