"O, nandito na ang iyong mantika at sabon!"she'd shout.(Your cooking oil and soap are here!) The puzzled housewife would protest that she has not ordered anything but with the goods ahead in her hands, she just shakes her head and smiles in resignation.
Antonina Talob would then call out the name of the next hapless homemaker from a street in Sampaloc, Manila, not at all embarrassed by the noise she is making. "Babalikan ko na lang ang bayad!" (I will just come back for the payment!), Talob adds, as she walks back home to pick up another batch of merchandise to sell.
Shyness is not part of her character and that is the main ingredient of a consummate salesperson. It is also out of necessity that she be aggressive and articulate. Talob's husband died in 1996 and she has had to singlehandedly support her seven children.Whether from sheer goodwill, compassion or because of a good marketing and positioning strategy, the community benefits from this small retail transaction. Not only is the scheme very helpful to neighbors who don't have the time nor the will to shop, it is profitable for Talob as well.
Every morning before sunrise, Talob wakes up to wash her children's clothes while breakfast cooks on a stove in the kitchen that also doubles as bedroom and dining room. Visitors are entertained on the street.
After sending off her kids ro school, she begins her routine of selling laundry detergent in unlabeled piastic bags to friends and neighbors. She also sells cooking oil in half-liter plasric bortles, as well as onions and garlic. Talob buys these in buik in Divisoria and repacks them. Detergents are placed in 1-kilo bags while the cooking oil is transferred to smaller containers, often using the 2-liter Coke bottles. She sells these in the neighborhood walklng the narrow streets from house to house, carrying her varied merchandise.
Talob has the business sense to ask her clients what they need before hand, which she then buys in Divisoria. She purchases anything from hangers and clothesline clips to utensils and cookware, and then passesth eset o them with a minimal mark-up. "Patuloy silang bumibili sa akin kasi puwedeng utang ,tapos libreng delivery pa!" (They come to me because they can buy on credit, with home delivery as value-added.),she says.
Talob also knows that the convenience she offers is the big advantage she has over so many sari-sari stores in her area. Another value-added is that she also considers the financial standing of her clients in that highiy-populated, lower-to-middle class neighborhood. She knows her clients don't have enough purchasing power and that her low-priced items help them save the most they can.
She earns about P1,500 a month from detergent sales alone. Renting out two washing machines earn for her about P70 daily. Occasional laundry work can also rake in P300 a day. Clothes are hang out to dry on the basketball structure on the street right in front of her house. Altogether, she makes about P8,000 monthly.Food eats up most of the Talob family income, for which she spends P3,500. Fortunately, the small one room house she lives in is owned by an aunt next door who was kind enough not to charge rent, and even provides free water through a hose.
Even when her husband was still alive and worked as a jeepney driver, Talob would sell fruirs, fishball, kikiam and sweets on sidewalks. When he died, she lost hope and knew she needed help. In 1998, walking on rhe side streets of Recto, she espied the office of the Silangan Multi-Purpose and Transport Cooperarive (SMPTC) and simply came in, The trust overwhelmed her, Talob recounts, "Malaki ang tulong sa akin ng Silangan dahil binigyan nila ako ng pagkakataong magkaroon ng puhunan. Saka nagtiwala sila sa'kin!" (Silangan has helped me a lot by giving me a chance to obtain capital. And they trusted me, too!)
Talob walked into what used to be the RMC Multi-Purpose Cooperative Management. In 1998, the same year that she found it, the co-op changed its name to Silangan Multi-Purpose & Transport Service Cooperative (SMTC). The "koop," as it is now simply called by membersa nd non-membersa like,was registered with the Cooperative Development Authority with an initial capital of P31,250.00. By December 2001.it's total membership has blossomed to 1,511 with a total asset of P39.41 million.
Talob would regularly rake out small loans payable in about three months. Every Thursday, a collector would come to Talob's house to pick up the payment which she religiously prepares in advance.
"Bumabayad ako ng P500 kada linggo. Magaan naman",she says. (The payments of P500 a week is quite manageable.) Of the weekly paymenrs Talob makes to the coop,P80 goes for savings deposit.She boasts that she has never missed one payment."Minsan nga,pinagsasama ko na ang dalawang huling kabayaran para matapos na at makautang ulit."says.(Sometimes, I'd combine the last two payments to get over with it and apply for another loan.)
Talob is very disciplined with money and whatever she borrows from the cooperative goes only into her business as capital. Delineating the line between business and personal expenses often the waterloo of small businessis natural for one with a good management sense. Her three washing machines,for instance,were purchased through loans from the co-op. Thus,she has never found it necessary to borrow for her family's needs because her business earnings are enough to cover these.
As a Silangan member, she also has a savings account in the cooperative,which earns dividends.But surprisingly for one so hands-on, Talob doesn't even bother to know the amount- for both savings and dividends opting instead to just allow the interest to grow. This was perhaps her way of giving back the trust that her "koop" accords her.She says, "Hinahayaan ko na lang iyon bilang pamana para sa aking mga anak!"(I will lust leave it as an inheritance for my children.)
Because of Silangan, Talob says she was never under the mercy of usurers who charge high interest rates. So, she adds, "Basta hinahayaan bo na lang ang pondo sa kooperatiba na kumita mag-isa!"(I just let the money earn by itself!)
Very enthusiastic about the cooperatives, she not only regularly attends meetings, she has also recruited friends and clients in the Sampaloc area. Her experience and example convinced 70 new members to join the "koop." Talob meets with them after dinner every Thursday evening at the barangay plaza. Silangan in recognition of her help and skill, gives her a small allowance for her efforts.
She gladly reports, "Pati ang mga kaibigan kong may negosyo gaya ng tindahan koo kainan, pinasasali ko. At sila ay umuunlad habang tumatagal!" (Even my friends who have businesses like stores or restaurants, I recruit. And their lives have grown better in time!)She has clearly touched the lives of others, finding satisfaction in her personal interactions and business ventures as evidenced by her happy disposition despite the hardships.Antonina makes friends easily. Her roly-poly figure and warm, roothless smile suits her motherly demeanor.
Her influence has not only extended to other people in her community, but more especially to her family. She spends evenings, no matter how tired she is, talking with her children and teaching them values like hard work,simple living and honesty.
This has borne fruit. Antonina's values have apparently been passed on to her eldest son, Jon Jon, 20, Who is graduating from high school in a few months. After school on Friday, she works as a waiter for a catering outfit until Sunday evening. The income is modest but it helps relieve some of the pressure from his hard-working mother.
All the children are aware that the cooperative is there to help them help themselves. Talob says, "Nagpapasalamat ako sa Silangan Cooperative dahil sa tulong nlla. Mabilis ang serbisyo at talagang mababa ang interes."