whole lechon in exchange for anything other than food, large orchid plants for a sack of rice to be given to a poor senior citizen, a refrigerator for a COVID-19 testing center in exchange for a Red Cross pin, or a bowl of “aratiles for happy hormones” in exchange for a branded cologne. These are just some of the bartered items at the Bacolod Barter Community, which started on May 8, and now has over 16,000 members.
The pandemic has triggered an exchange of goods and services that existed long before modern times. The barter system, which was started by Mesopotamian tribes, Phoenicians, and Babylonians some 8,000 years ago has now been resurrected with a more meaningful dimension, triggering the Filipino “Bayanihan” spirit of giving.
On March 15, 2020, Bacolod was among the cities in the Philippines that was covered by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Only selected individuals were given quarantine passes while the rest of the city, with a population of more than half a million, stays at home. This got me into thinking how the rest of us can get what we need without going through long lines in the grocery stores during limited hours. The pains of financial losses have started to affect workers, particularly daily wage-earners who have no cashflow during the lockdown.
Just when the country’s economy faces a potential collapse, Bacolodnons last week started to show the world that money is not everything. As councilor of Bacolod for nine years and an advocate for information and communications technology (ICT), I have always championed the use of social media for good. With thousands of Facebook followers, and more than 50 pages and groups that I manage on Facebook, I thought about starting a page where people can exchange goods without using money. Initially, I designed the group page only for women so we can exchange cosmetics and personal items
A whole lechon was bartered for a water dispenser.
I made the first barter on May 8, exchanging a new liquid eyeliner I have kept for months for a pineapple, squash, and some few vegetables. The friends that I initially invited, around 20 of them, started to invite others, including men. The following day, I changed the rules of the page to now accept male members.
In trade, barter is defined as system of exchange where participants in a transaction directly exchange goods or services for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money.
But this traditional activity has become more inspiring today since there is a need to create innovative solutions to the adverse effects of the quarantine. I am particularly inspired to see members letting go of expensive bags, perfumes, and other personal items in exchange for sacks of rice, sardines, noodles, milk, used foams, and blankets for poor families.
There is a wide range of items being exchanged at our Bacolod Barter Community: microwave ovens, industrial coffee makers, electric fans, television sets, sacks of rice, trays of eggs, orchids and large potted plants, garden soil, branded clothes, bags and perfumes, cakes and dishes, signature watches and shoes, cosmetics and toiletries, infant formula, baby cribs and toys, books and paintings, jewelry, guitars, chandeliers, dog food, and even a second-hand Ford Ecosport. I am inspired to see people finding what they need from other members like seafood, a can of Spam or corned beef, large water containers, used bicycles, electric mixers, seedlings, art materials, and even aratiles.
The mechanics of the page states that the medium of exchange are items and no cash is allowed. Buying or selling is strictly prohibited. Members can post pictures of the item they want to barter with its details or description and estimated worth. They can also mention the things they want or are looking for in exchange for the items they posted. Then other members can comment in the thread, particularly to ask questions or to offer an item. The process continues until the owner of the item chooses from the thread. Once the choice has been made the barter is now deemed completed and both parties are asked to shout out “deal.”
Once exchange is completed, the members are requested to edit their post and indicate that the barter is completed, done, or closed.
Initially, the page encourages food, ingredients, edibles, beauty products or toiletries, but after a week, it has become a source of a variety of items. No harmful, unlawful, expired, indecent, or unlicensed items are allowed. Members are also asked to immediately report posts that violate rules or appear suspicious, illegal, or bearing any misrepresentation.
The parties then agree in the thread, or through messenger or SMS for exchange or delivery arrangements. Members are encouraged to keep their contact numbers, delivery addresses and other personal information secure.
Some posts are specific in the items they will accept as trade.
Strictly no minors are allowed in the page. Each member shall be responsible as consenting adults dealing with one another in good faith. It is presumed that all the items being bartered are owned or can be rightfully disposed by the person bartering them off. Members are also required to fully disclose the correct class, grade, model, state, or quality of the items.
As part of the mechanics, I encourage the members to keep the page fun, dynamic, useful, and inspiring in this time of pandemic.
Read more at: //news.abs-cbn.com/ancx/culture/spotlight/05/15/20/orchids-for-rice-these-bacolodnons-are-bartering-to-get-what-they-need-in-the-ecq