Three-termer vice mayor Jerry Yaokasin, known in his city as Sambo, has been busy this pandemic, among other things, bartering basic goods with Taclobanons.
They would go to his office and ask him to take a look at the items they came bearing—and they would leave with rice, milk, eggs, and other necessities. Some had items that were so precious they went home with cellular phones and bikes.
“During the early days of the global pandemic, most people were affected by the lockdown. Many lost their jobs. With no more cash to buy necessities, the barter allowed people to trade their unused/used items,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “It was a welcome relief for cash-strapped individuals and families.”
The barters were fun at first—the swaps were of things that had little value like plantsa de uling (still common in the provinces) and broken cameras. Then came the old vinyl players and records and typewriters. Later, some WW 2 items like cups and utensils used by the US soldiers slowly surfaced.
When Sambo started getting really precious items, the vice mayor realized that his dream of putting up a local museum may just become a reality. Last year, for the 75th Leyte Landing anniversary, the local officials organized a WW2 exhibit that featured never before seen photos of Tacloban taken during the Second World War. Because of the interest and the response, they planned to set up a local mini museum to display these photos permanently.
“Every city should have one museum that showcases its rich history and culture, considering Tacloban played an important role during the liberation against the Japanese Occupation led by Gen. DouglasMacArthur and then-President SergioOsmeña here in Leyte,” he says. They also want to put up a Yolanda section to remind people of the effects of climate change, with Tacloban being Ground Zero.
The barters were fun at first—the swaps were of things that had little value like plantsa de uling and broken cameras. Then came the old vinyl players and records and typewriters. Later, some WW 2 items like cups and utensils used by the US soldiers slowly surfaced.
Some of the more interesting things that have been bartered with the vice mayor were banknotes with the word “Tacloban” used during World War II, a silver platter that was given as a gift to a young couple during the war, and a shaving cup with the logo US Medical. He has also been searching for items from eBay that feature Tacloban—and has so far scored 1910 postcards of the city, an old nautical map of the city by the bay, original press photos during the war, and very old letters postmarked with the city.
“One of the places that a tourist looks for when they visit a city is the local museum,” he says. “We plan to set it up first in an old house we refurbished. With hope, we can partner with a foundation to set up a real museum that will showcase the rich history and culture of Tacloban and the whole region.”
More than just setting up the museum, the act of bartering has allowed the vice mayor to get closer to the people he’s been serving for more than a decade. “This allowed me as a public official to be in touch with my constituents and create a sense of community even while practicing social distancing,” he says. “It also allowed us to extend assistance by way of bartering. Bartering encouraged Taclobanons to be entrepreneurial rather than wait for government dole-outs.”
One of the places that a tourist looks for when they visit a city is the local museum. We plan to set it first in an old house we refurbished. With Hopefully, we can partner with a foundation to set up a real museum that will showcase the rich history and culture of Tacloban and the whole region.