Will trade for food: online bartering soars in virus-hit Philippines

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Many Filipinos are now unable to afford to buy food in supermarkets.  PHOTO:  AFP

MANILA  —  Struggling to make ends meet, Lorraine Imperio swapped a pair of Nike slip-on shoes for a whole dressed chicken on an online bartering site, one of dozens that have sprouted up during the Philippines’ virus lockdowns.

With millions stripped of their jobs and many forced to stay home to slow the coronavirus spread, Filipinos have flocked to Facebook groups to exchange their possessions, including kitchen appliances, children’s toys and designer handbags — mostly for food.

“It’s so difficult nowadays. You don’t know where you’ll get the money to settle the bills for groceries,” said Imperio, a mother of two whose husband works part-time at a doughnut shop in Manila.

His hours have been slashed because of the pandemic and he now only earns about 9,000 pesos ($185) a month, half of which is used to pay the rent for the family’s apartment.

Online bartering groups have provided a lifeline to the Imperios and other Filipinos hit hard by the country’s months-long virus restrictions that started in March and have sent the economy plunging into a deep recession.

At least 98 groups, some with tens of thousands of members, are operating across the archipelago, according to an AFP tally.

Nearly all of them started during the pandemic as many Filipinos resorted to the ancient trading practice to feed their families.–AFP

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