‘We Are Goodjaos Selling Ukay-Ukay Shoes’- 3 Badjaos Chorused; Turko Loan Sharks Exposed

By Cha Monforte

DAVAO CITY- Got stranded Tuesday night due to heavy downpour. This year is coming to be the most rainy in the last three years, I dare conclude. Heavy rains have been coming out- on and off- since November last year, and this summer hasn’t really roasted us in oven-like clime for long sweltering days and nights except for few days and the rains keep on coming back, then back.

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The Polar Ice is indeed melting, and let’s end the debate on climate change. The erratic weather is here and forecast by Facebook. The upside however is that Lake Lanao has always high waters, and Davao Light doesn’t rotate brownouts unlike last year’s summer.

What’s quite certain these largely rainy times for the last 7 months is that the ukay-ukay shoes selling Badjaos are losing but they are not going bankrupt.

After I alighted from the jeep, I ran straight to under the stretched roofing of a barbeque stall in Panacan, not knowing that I inserted myself to a group of Badjaos selling ukay-ukay shoes on sidewalks.

I stood just beside them, and being so, I could audibly hear their conversation in Badjao language. Of course, I couldn’t understand them except the word “lugi” that came out from their mouths  as the rains continued to lash at passing vehicles. They noticed my drenched presence as they laughed in their conversation.

One Badjao boy, aged about 28, showed me his small Cherry phone, and asked me to type “Vina” in the phone’s qwerty. At first, I couldn’t understand what he meant as he pointed an image of a boy on the LED display. I laughed as the boy’s image seems he is on the process of peeing. Oh that boy ha ha, I laughed. But the Badjao said “itype Vina” in elongated hard lumad tone.

The two other Badjaos said “oo asawa niya”. I laughed again pretending I understood. But the first Badjao showed his CP again and “oo Vina password dire.” Oh I see. I got it, and I keyed in v-i-n-a. In snap, it opened. They laughed. The 1st Badjao engaging with me then called up her wife.

“Wa mo kaeskwela ug Grade 1, kamo tanan? (You all have never gone in school?)” I asked the three, all not more than 30 but not less than 25 in ages.

“Oo,” they chorused.

“You are all Badjaos?”

“Oo, Goodjaos,” they chorused again.

Their three large bags filled with ukay-ukay shoes stood beside them.

I asked one nearest to me his name, and he answered, “JR.”

“And your family name?” He replied but I failed to get it.

So for this Q & A with him, we’ll call him “JR Goodjao”.

The three are long-time sidewalk vendors of ukay-ukay shoes. They are itinerant vendors, having no fixed sidewalk where to sell shoes.

The bottomline is they are allowed to sell and the sidewalk has a lot of passersby. At times, they are rounded up by barangay police or they give petty grease money to them or to incharge barangay officials for limited days of vending.

JR Goodjao said he has long stint of ukay-ukay shoes vending since 2003 and when he was still 13 years old.

He came from Zamboanga and there he accompanied his father in fishing. Close before 2003 his family transferred in Davao City for greener pasture, and he first landed begging and vending pearls and other stuffs or handicrafts in Sta. Ana wharf’s premises.

Later he learned about borrowing money from Turkos (aka Bombays) to start ukay-ukay business as his Badjao friends were already starting to vend.

JR said Turkos would lend them P3,000 cash payable in 1 month at P150 per day, or the Bombay’s original P3,000 turns P4,500 in a month’s time. (That’s so high a usurious rate, 50% plus recovery vis-à-vis the usual 20% interest rate that is often tagged as a loan shark rate).

Now after having that P3,000, they go to somewhere in Uyanguren and they buy from Abdul a large bag filled of shoes, mixed with few sandals.

JR said buyers gamble which bag to choose as the bags for sale are all tied up that buyers cannot see the contents.

After buying the bag worth P3,000 he would then wash all the shoes and sandals, have them dried and the tattered parts, cuts and splits glued, sewn and repaired. There’s a bonanza if JR is lucky to get a bag having lots of branded not so worn-out shoes like Nike. Then he finds sidewalk to sell.

JR said that he earns just like laborer’s earning, sometimes P300, P500 or earning P1,500 is a lucky day, and less the Turko’s P150 daily. But they have always to save for P3,000 for the next cycle.

He said in average his bag would be consumed of its contents in two weeks time. But no longer now during erratically rainy times, when the three Goodjaos have to sell for three weeks or a month time to have their bags all sold out except the most tattered ones, and they whistled with hands on their bulging pockets.(mindanaosunchronicle.com/Cha Monforte)

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