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Monday, March 21, 2005

OT: Jun-jun the Parking Man


Side Note
When I first spoke to him under the shade of the stand-by electric generator, his eyes were on the road. His eyes were always on the road. I asked him if he would mind if a group of three AIM students were to ask him a few questions. Even as he watched the road and the cars that passed by, he agreed.

Two hours later, our group of three classmates – an Indian (Manish), a Cambodian (Rith) and I (Edwin), a Filipino – crossed the street in front of AIM and went to meet Jun-jun. This is what we found out.

Jun-jun grew up in Davao. At age 15, he came to Manila where he met a lady who would later become his wife. They now have three children, ages 10, 9 and 8. We asked Jun-jun how old he was. He said he was 31. Rith commented: “You don’t look your age.” Later into the conversation, we discovered that Jun-jun miscalculated his age. He is 34. I thought maybe his birthdays come and go without remembrance.

Jun-jun worked in the past in construction. But pay was low (around P150 per day) and seasonal. He also worked as a jeepney driver in the past. I discovered this when he showed us his address on his driver’s license. He was embarrassed to say that his license was expired. He explained: “Walang pang-renew, eh” (I don’t have money to have it renewed.)

Jun-jun now spends his days guiding motorists into parking slots. Today, he started at 11am. He had in his hands 19 pesos – his earnings after 3 hours under the sun, waving cars into parking slots – and was quick to add that he hadn’t eaten yet. He considers himself lucky when he brings home P100. “Swertehan din, panapanahon lang.” (It’s just luck.) He sometimes receives only P80 or even less. He’ll be in this parking area with an empty stomach until the evening. This is when young teens and yuppies come to have food, drinks and fun at Greenbelt III.

He, on the other hand will have to ride a jeep to home in Taguig. He spends P14 for the jeep. On lean days he’d try to get a free ride (“sabit nalang”).

Home for Jun-jun is a shared home with his “kababata” (childhood friend). His family of 5 shares a home with his friend’s family of 3. Jun-jun doesn’t pay rent. He just contributes for food if he can. He spends whatever is left from his day’s pay for food.

He doesn’t give his kids any baon (allowance). The kids receive bread their aunt. Although their public school does not collect tuition fees, Jun-jun says that the school projects are a big burden. His three kids have many school projects within the year, some of which cost him up to P150. Other expenses like books, notebooks, and clothes for his children are bulk financial needs at the start of the school year.

This is where he gets help from his friends (kababata, kabarkada) and relatives (ninong, mga ninong ng mga kababata). They don’t charge him any interest, nor do they demand payment after a certain period. The agreement is that Jun-jun pays back whenever he can. Often, he doesn’t get to repay them. The largest amount that he was able to borrow was P1,000. This was used to buy clothes, school supplies and food for the children.

Jun-jun related with excitement the past Christmas when he received a gift from a man. The man had a conversation with Jun-jun. After seeing Jun-jun’s family picture, the man gave him P300. Jun-jun said he was very thankful and that it was a big blessing. He used the money to buy clothes for the kids (“pang-Christmas sa mga bata”) and for a little Christmas dinner.

We asked Jun-jun if he ever borrowed from a 5-6 money lender. “Wala naman akong pambayad.” (I have nothing to pay.)

We asked Jun-jun if he ever tried the services of a pawnshop. “Wala naman akong isasanla.” (I have no items to pawn).

We asked Jun-jun if he knew of any credit groups in his area. He said that he was aware of a credit cooperative in his area – “Kaanib”. He has a few friends who avail of Kaanib’s services.

But Jun-jun never considered trying Kaanib. “Masyadong maraming requirements.” (There are too many requirements). He said that he never even inquired. He said that applicants of Kaanib were required to have a house and a business “at marami pang iba” (and many other requirements) but could not identify these other requirements.

Manish asked Jun-jun an interesting theoretical question. “If you had the chance to receive P500, how would you use it?” If I recall correctly, I think his first response was “pambili ng pagkain.” (to buy food). He later added that he will give the money to his wife so that she can start selling banana-cue (a snack of sweet banana on a stick). He added, “magaling magluto ang misis ko.” (my wife cooks well). “Lahat ng pera, binibigay ko kay misis”. (I give all my money to my wife).

Jun-jun said that his wife had tried the banana-cue business in the past. I asked him how come they don’t have that business now. He replied “walang capital” (no capital). I probed just a little more the reason for non-continuance of the business. But I relented because he might feel offended with my questioning.

After almost 45 minutes of animated story telling, I suggested that we bring the discussion to a close.

At this point, he told us that he thought we were going to interview him and offer him a job! I felt embarrassed. We explained that the interview was for a research.

Our group gave Jun-jun a total of P620 as a token of appreciation and as a means to help Jun-jun and his family. The gift was spontaneous (the details of which our group opt not to discuss in class).

Jun-jun expressed his deepest appreciation. He said he would give it to his wife to use for the banana-cue business. He even offered to take us to their residence to check on the business.

We expressed our thanks for his time. But Jun-jun replied “ako ang dapat magpa-salamat sa inyo” (it is I who should say give thanks.)

We, an Indian, a Cambodian and a Filipino, crossed the street and went back to AIM. We took some time to discuss and reflect. Pondering about how our interview went and especially reflecting on the amount Jun-jun received, the group came up with a thought:

“Wouldn’t it have been better for Jun-jun
if the money was lent to him instead of given to him?”



Give or Lend dilemma

It was a thought that came after Jun-jun received the money. There was a big discussion first on what was better for Jun-jun and on whether it was acceptable to modify the kind of help we offered him.

I was thinking, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jun-jun would splurge a big part of the money on food for himself and for his friends. There were, afterall, a few other parking men who saw how much Jun-jun received. While we were crossing back to AIM, I saw him walking away from his usual spot with a friend in tow, presumably to have a bite to relieve his stomach. I wonder how big a bite he’ll take on this lucky day.

I did find him rather sincere. But there was a part of me that was thinking, “isn’t he playing a role so that we would give him money?”

This thought was aggravated when Rith told me that he was sure that he heard Jun-jun ask (in English) for money. On the other hand, I was sure that Jun-jun did not say anything to that effect. After a long discussion and explanation, I reconcile these two views this way: perhaps Jun-jun’s actions may have communicated to Rith that Jun-jun wanted money from us. Rith added: “That’s why I turned my back. It (asking for money) was wrong.”

Despite all these, our group reflected on how things would have been different had the money been lent to Jun-jun. If the money was lent, he would be more cautious about using the money. He would ensure that the money would not go into waste and that he would gain more regular income from the capital.

I was extra cautious about Jun-jun receiving money from us. When Jun-jun was given the first P20 bill (in the middle of the interview when he showed us that he had P19 in his hands), I told him “hwag mo sanang masamain” (please don’t be offended). He accepted the money.

Frankly, I’m confused (I generally consider this good). I feel that Jun-jun would have benefited more if he had the chance to borrow money instead of being given money. But on the other hand, he does have sources of credit – friends and relatives. And how has he used the money borrowed? He probably used it for consumption.

Jun-jun has no chance to save enough capital for any business. Whatever little he owns, he spends for survival. Whenever he borrows, it is not for capital but to get him across urgent and important financial needs. He does not have the opportunity to borrow capital for a business.

A gift

There were a couple more issues that came into play for our group. The cash gift was given out of sincerity and “from God through us”. It was intended to be a one time helping hand. But none of us in the group had the inclination to have a 50-60 day financing relationship with Jun-jun.

At one point, we thought we would just take on the invitation of Jun-jun to visit his home. That would be a total of two engagements with Jun-jun. If we could verify that they had used the money for a banana-cue business (like a loan utilization check), that would be enough for us to sit back and say “we did some good”.

I felt that his expressed need was a lack of capital. (This is what he said was lacking for them to set-up their banana-cue business.) It was almost automatic for him to decide that the money received was going to be used for a banana-cue business. It was as if he and his wife have been dreaming of the chance to set-up this business.


Jun-jun the parking man (Case B)

A micro-credit scheme for Jun-jun

Our group started to formulate a micro-credit scheme for Jun-jun. This is what it came out to be:

· The P500 would be a loan to Jun-jun
· Interest would be zero
· Jun-jun would have a coin bank which will be “parked” at an agreed place, perhaps with an AIM guard.
· Jun-jun must drop in P10 per day for the next 50-60 days (missing a day or two is acceptable).
· The coin bank would have a sheet of paper with 50 squares and he should sign one square each time he dropped 10 pesos.
· We will explain to Jun-jun that at the end of 50-60 days, the P500 will be used to help another person the same way the P500 helped Jun-jun.

With this scheme in mind, our group agreed to go back to Jun-jun and make a proposal.

When we crossed the street, Jun-jun wasn’t there. One of his friends said Jun-jun either went to have lunch, or just took a break and would come back in the evening.

This is a story of an Indian, a Cambodian, a Filipino and a parking man who always kept a watchful eye of the road and the cars that passed by.

And when opportunity drove by, where did it take Jun-jun the parking man?

Read: a peek into My microfinance project.
Other OT (Off-Topic) articles on Technobiography



  • At 11:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    interesting proposition... and interesting read so what happened to Jun-Jun?

    Are you planning to launch a micro financing scheme as a non-profit organization just to help the poor people of the Philippines.

  • At 11:24 am, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…

    Hi anton,

    I do not have plans yet of launching my own microfinance org. But I do plan to share my learnings and help other microfinance institutions (MFIs) serve their clients better and serve more of our Filipino people.

    Dennis Eclarin of Home Town did setup his MFI which serves clients in the "island, highlands and mainlands" - the hard to reach areas of the Philippines. Inspiring, this man ...


  • At 6:51 pm, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…

    Sacha had the patience to read this loooong post.

    Here's what she has to say:
    Microfinancing 11:49


  • At 7:06 pm, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…

    Posted on Sacha's blog:

    Hi Sacha,

    Many of us, like me, have a lot to learn about financial literacy. I'm reading up on financial literacy through Francisco Colayco's book (Pera mo Palaguin mo) and Larry Gamboa's book (Think Rich, Pinoy!). Good read, very applicable to us Filipinos.

    But reading is not enough. Larry says: See, Do, Get.

    Gabby and I had a little discussion in January. Take a look: Cashflow! - Edutainment in a box


  • At 1:56 pm, Blogger bizdriven said…


    I guess it is great to be generous, but yes, it is better to teach to fish than to give my opinion.


  • At 4:44 pm, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…


    I agree.
    As they say, hindsight is 20/20.
    Hopefully learning will make foresight even clearer.




    Q: When is this maxim not applicable: "it is better to teach to fish than to give fish..." ?

    A: When the sea is over-fished! Then, you'll have to teach the fisherman to _grow_ fish .... or chickens or pigs or vegetables for that matter. ;-)


  • At 1:17 pm, Blogger mell ditangco (this is my pseudonym) said…

    I have a similar story...

    a housemade taught to become an lpg dealer, only for her to squnder her capital in tongits.

    the house maid that became an lpg dealer and back...

    our housemaid tended one of our small lpg outlets. Inventory levels were very small 10 to 12 tanks. We had trained her how to operate the such a business.

    Then... the family decided to give her the business since she has proven she is capable. The inventory and working capital worth in about 5 to 10 k.

    Then we noticed the inventory levels started to decline... eventually there were only 2 lpg tanks left... it turns out the housemaid spent the operating capital... to the point of no return...

    upon investigation, she squandered the money on tongits and other vices...

    before you know it, she returned to our home as a housemaid...

    ah too bad... she had her chance... she had the skills...

    sometimes resources are not the problem...


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