Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue started the Bacolod Barter Community during the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine for Covid-19. Learn how this Bacolod mom single-handedly changed trading trends in the Philippines with barter.
What To Do?
From March 15, 2020, the government declared a lockdown to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 virus. At first, people felt protected and appreciated the much-needed rest.
However, by the end of April, many Pinoys are already bored, listless, and short of supplies. Parents are getting crazy that their kids are at home all day with nothing to do. It can get to your nerves if you are not used to having the kids with you all day.
We needed to do something to keep our minds off the virus. Plus, we needed food supply sources.
Changing the Whole Country with Barter
But the lockdown never brought Atty. Jocelle down. Already an accomplished lawyer, professor, entrepreneur, and social advocate, she is always busy.
During the quarantine, she continued being productive at home while encouraging people and starting new concepts that could help the community.
Then one day, she discovered that she needed to replenish her family’s vegetable supply. So she thought of starting the Bacolod Barter Community.
Her first post was to barter an extra tube of eyeliner for some vegetables. Another Bacolod mommy, Angelie Galapon, responded and even threw in some pineapples. Happy with the trade, Atty. Jocelle also included some colorful new socks during the exchange.
It was a simple deal that proved to be a happy experience for Atty. Jocelle and her ka-barts. That was also the start of the barter renaissance in the Philippines.
Global Barter Communities
Fast forward to today, the Bacolod Barter Community has grown to about 231,000 members with at least 10,000 posts per day. Facebook has to keep on updating their algorithms in order to cope with the group’s activity.
Atty. Jocelle has registered the name Global Barter Communities where she shares notes with over 160 barter community founders across the archipelago and overseas.
The climb wasn’t easy. There were many discoveries and unhappy experiences along the way. Everybody learned, including coping with disappointments in barter and the frustrations over bureaucratic red tape covering some items.
As you may know, the most recent one is the claim of the DTI that barter should be taxed. But Atty. Jocelle conquered all that with her grit and knowledge of the law. After all, she says, “kindness should remain exempt from taxation.”
The Covid-19 Crisis
People all over the world are experiencing all kinds of challenges and sorrows related to the Covid-19 crisis.
Here in the Philippines, money is running low and supplies are dwindling. Mommies really need to be creative in stretching the family budget.
When the barter trend happened, people had a momentary distraction. Suddenly, we had something to do. Our minds and all our senses are involved as we uncluttered, reorganized, and bartered.
Hope with Barter
From our boring lives during the ECQ, barter has given us hope. Here are the reasons why:
People found something to do. It could be decluttering, classifying, taking photos, posting, packing, to actual meet-ups. Barter kept us busy.
Barter provided excitement. Finally, there was some good news on Facebook. We got so excited to see what others are posting and if we have something to barter for them. At the same time, we were equally excited to wait if somebody wanted our items.
Barter provided our needs. I believe that thousands of families have been helped by barter. We were able to let go of some stuff we don’t need in exchange for food and supplies. There have been so many heartwarming stories in the barter groups that your hope for humanity gets leveled up.
Momentary distraction and mental well-being. Aside from keeping ourselves safe by wearing masks and physical distancing, there’s really not much we can do. The only thing we can handle is how we respond to the crisis.
That helplessness leads to hopelessness and other mental health issues. With barter, all our positive vibes were fired up and suddenly our hope were lifted up.
At home, Atty. Jocelle is like any other mom who takes care of her household and cooks for her family. She has been married to fellow lawyer, Atty. Arnel Sigue, and they recently celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary.
They have one son, Emmanuel, who is now 15 years old.
The Keyboard Army
Aside from her husband, Atty. Jocelle is being assisted by a total of 25 moderators. These are all professionals who have volunteered to keep the group in order.
People can no longer freely post in the group. Their posts should be complete and follow a certain format. Additionally, there are banned items because Facebook flags them. Instead, the posts go to pending and the mods try to individually sift through all the posts. They approve and decline based on the guidelines set by the admin.
Sardine Recipes for the Family
Meanwhile, here are some of the budget-friendly recipes I came up with. All cost below 50 pesos and can feed a family of at least five persons. I hoped that sharing these recipes will help mommies become more creative with their homecooking.
Sardines is like our hope food in the Philippines. Whenever there is a calamity, it is the standard issue in food packs. That is because it stays long and can feed a lot of people.
But sardines can get tiring, right? So here are some recipes for you to extend a can of sardines and actually enjoy it.
- Sardine Java Rice: A Filipino Family Meal Below P50
- Spicy Sardine Frittata: 50-peso-Dish for a Family of 5 from Covid-19 Relief Packs
- Sardine Spaghetti Aglio Olio Recipe: 50-Peso Dish During Family Quarantine