The current travel restriction in National Capital Region-Plus (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal) has severely affected those who belong to the informal sector, including a 50-year-old craftsman from Baras in Rizal Province.
Alvaro Dichoso has been a maker and vendor of religious figurines for 12 years now, a craft which he learned from his father and has been his bread and butter. But with the restricted movements of the public, Dichoso is finding a hard time to sell his images of the Nazareno, Santo Niño, Virgin of Peṅafrancia, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, among others.
Prior to the pandemic, when fiesta celebrations were still allowed, Dichoso — along with other neighbors and relatives — used to go from one province to another to sell his religious figurines.
“Noong wala pang pandemya, pumupunta kami sa mga lugar na may pista para itinda ang mga imahen. Nakakaubos kami ng mga dalawampung kahon ng iba’t-ibang pigurin, (Before when there was no pandemic, we went to different places to sell the images. We used to sell out around 20 boxes of various figurines),” Dichoso said.
But since the community quarantine started in 2020, Dichoso had to reduce his production from 20 boxes to only two boxes because he could only sell his figurines in the vicinity of Antipolo Cathedral and in the Cogeo market area.
“Mabuti po at hindi kami pinapaalis ng mga taga city hall ng Antipolo kahit sa bangketa kami nagtitinda. Maaaring nauunawaan ni Mayora Ynares ang kalagayan naming mga umaasa lang sa pagtitinda para mabuhay namin ang aming pamilya (It’s good that those from the city hall of Antipolo do not drive us away even if we are staying on the sidewalk. Mayor Ynares must have understood the plight of vendors who rely mainly on vending just to provide for our family),” Dichoso told Manila Bulletin in interview on the sidewalk near Sumulong Park in Antipolo City on Sunday afternoon.
Dichoso’s figurines, mostly painted gold, sells for as low as P35 to as high as P400 depending on the size. His best sellers prior to the pandemic were the images of Black Nazarene, Santo Niño, and Our Lady of Peṅafrancia.
It was during the feast days of the saints that his resin handicrafts would sell a lot.
These days, he said passersby rarely notice or buy his religious figurines on the sidewalk near the Antipolo Cathedral. This is the reason why he wants to get the attention of the readers of Manila Bulletin, hoping to catch more buyers soon.