Unemployed welder uses cash aid from Makati City gov't to start successful fishball business

Makati City Mayor Abby Binay on Friday (Aug. 21) praised a city resident who used the financial assistance that he received from the city to set up a successful food cart business.

Mario Lutang, 42, a welder by profession and a resident of Barangay Valenzuela, Makati City, started his business selling fishballs from a cart after he and his wife Veronica received P5,000 each from the city’s MAKA-tulong 5K for 500K program.

Mario Lutang and his fishball cart that he started from the money he received from the city government's program "MAKA-tulong" (MyMakati official twitter account/ MANILA BULLETIN)

To always remind him how he started his business, Lutang's fishball cart bears the words, "Katas ng (Essence of) MAKA-tulong."

Lutang was laid off from work at the start of the pandemic and took odd jobs to survive. His luck turned after he and his wife both received P5,000 each from the city government’s program.

The P2.7-billion financial relief program that benefits 500,000 city residents and employees was launched in May 2020.

“I am humbled and amazed by the determination and perseverance of Mr. Mario Lutang. He had the foresight to use the city’s cash assistance to generate sustainable income for him and his family. On behalf of the city government, we applaud you,” Binay said.

“Thank you for serving as an example of hope and resilience to all of us. You are truly a model #Proudmakatizen,” Binay added as she posted photos of Lutang’s store on her Twitter account.

Lutang's fishball cart bears the words, "Katas ng (Essence of) MAKA-tulong." (MyMakati official twitter account/ MANILA BULLETIN

The mayor said what is more impressive is that Lutang built his fishball cart with his own two hands.

Binay said the hard-working father took up a vocational course in welding at the University of Makati years ago. Lutang and his wife have been Makati residents since 2005 and are holders of the city’s all-in-one Makatizen Card.

Lutang said that after the program was announced, he and his wife received P5,000 each, which was credited to their GCash accounts in just three days.

He decided to invest the money he received  from the Makatulong P5K program into a business that would be a regular source of income for his family.

Lutang said it took him more than five days to construct his fishball cart.

“I spent my P5,000 to buy materials for the food cart, and I borrowed some of my wife’s money to buy the items we were going to sell,” he explained.

He started selling his bite-sized snacks on July 15, usually at the Land Transportation (LTO) office in Makati and Makati City Hall, and proudly said he makes P500 to P600 a day selling fish balls and refreshments.

Lutang is grateful to Binay and the city government for its Makatulong P5K program that gave him and his family a fresh start and a chance to survive amid the pandemic.

 To his fellow #ProudMakatizens, Lutang had this to say: “Maging masipag at huwag mawalan ng pag-asa (Be industrious and never lose hope).”