MANILA – A new graduate of early childhood education at the Philippine Normal University in Manila is offering online tutorial classes for children aged three to eight in exchange for groceries, food or anything that will make her get through the coronavirus pandemic.
Aileen Burcio, 25, from Davao del Sur, had high hopes as she graduated this year and will soon realize her dream of becoming a teacher, until the pandemic happened.
In a snap of a finger, everything changed.
An event she was looking forward to – a physical graduation that would have honored her sacrifices and hug her parents on stage – did not happen.
On top of that, the dream of landing a teaching job seems to be evasive, as many people lost their jobs due to the lockdown caused by the pandemic.
Aileen came to the point of saying: “Parang hindi ko alam ano yung right term, minalas ba yung batch na 'to kasi grumaduate pero hindi naranasan yung physical graduation, nakakalungkot (I do not know the exact term, it's like our batch is so unfortunate, we graduated without experiencing physical graduation, it is so sad)”.
Aileen was a college scholar since elementary days and has been supporting her own education, same with her other four siblings since “wala nman pong kakayahan yung magulang ko (my parents have no resources)”.
As Aileen was thinking of ways to survive the next months, she thought of bartering her skills for food.
“May nakita kasi akong post ng mga kaibigan ko na they are offering online tutorial, mga PHP250 po ganun yung mga presyo nung online tutor, so naisip ko siguro hindi magki-click ganun, medyo mataas yung price so naisip ko to offer naman service naman sa akin (I saw a post of one of my friends offering online tutorial for PHP250 per session and I think that is a bit pricey, so I thought of offering my services instead),” Aileen said in an interview with PNA.
She said she already applied for a job before the lockdown happened, but it didn’t push through.
Aileen is also now reviewing for the board exam.
"So naisip ko, why not try mag-offer ng online tutorial kahit hindi naman ganon kalaki, at least ako nakakatulong din at matutulungan ako ng magiging client ko (I told myself, why not offer an online tutorial, at least I can help someone and they can help me),” she said.
Aside from the daily food expenses, Aileen still has to pay for dorm rent and her share in the water and electricity bill to boot.
"Pinag-isipan kong mabuti kung ano ba maganda kasi hindi natin alam kung hanggang kelan magiging ganito yung sitwasyon, so parang hanap na lang din ng way para mag-survive. Yung family ko nasa Mindanao, sa Davao, so pumunta ako dito para maghanap ng opportunity (I was thinking of ways because we do not know until when this crisis will be, and we have to survive. My family is in Mindanao, in Davao. I came here to look for opportunities)," she said.
In the past months, Aileen survived with the little savings she earned also from tutorial classes, which she already used up.
Messages of support
With a clear plan already laid out, Aileen made her post early morning in a Facebook barter group, and soon enough, private messages started coming in.
“I am teacher Aileen, a fresh graduate in early childhood education with a certificate in reading. I am offering online tutorial in exchange of groceries, food or anything na ma-kasurvive po dito sa dorm (which will help me survive here at the dormitory), for those who are interested. Please do not hesitate to inquire. I will be more than glad to cater all," her post on social media states.
In less than a day, she received a number of inquiries.
“Sobrang nakaka-overwhelm. Maraming nag inquire, so far, apat na nag set ng schedule, actually may dalawa pong mag-start na bukas, parang getting to know na muna, parang two-day trial ng online tutorial, pag nagustuhan yung service ko then go na po, kahit magkano naman yung amount ng groceries ok lang din (it was very overwhelming. I received many inquiries and so far, four already agreed. Actually, two will start tomorrow. We will have two days of trial and if they like my service, we will proceed. I will accept whatever amount of grocery items they will give me)," she said.
Aileen did not demand an exact amount of groceries or food in exchange for her service.
“Lahat naman tayo apektado sa sitwasyon ngayon, walang exempted, mayaman o mahirap, lahat dinadanas yung sitwasyon ngayon (We are all affected, nobody is exempted, rich or poor),” she said.
Surprisingly, aside from offers, a bag of grocery was delivered at her doorstep on Monday.
"May nagpadala agad ng grocery, nagulat ako tapos tinanong ko kung ilang taon na o anong grade level na ang itu-tutor ko tas sabi niya, 'wag na teacher bigay ko na lang yan,' so nakakatuwa na may mga ganung tao na sa kabila ng dinanas ngayon, nag-share pa rin sila (Somebody just sent me a bag of groceries earlier, so I asked about the child I have to teach, but she said, 'it’s okay, that’s yours'. It is nice to know that there are good people who are always willing to help)," she said.
To all those having the same experience, especially fresh graduates, Aileen said it only takes grit and determination to pull through in these trying times.
“Since nag aral ako self-supporting ako, parang diskarte lang talaga kasi anjan mga opportunity kailangan lang natin kumilos, syempre hindi na aasahan ang parents kasi graduate na nga kaya ang ine-expect nila magkakatrabaho na. Maging creative at resourceful na lang (I have been a self-supporting student since then. We only have to think of other ways because there are always opportunities. Our parents are expecting that we will now start working because we are already graduates. We just have to be creative and resourceful),” Aileen said. (PNA)