MALASIQUI, Pangasinan – A 31-year-old “buko” juice vendor and his family of farmers went viral on Facebook after responding to the “bayanihan call” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis by giving away eggplants and other vegetables to their community in Barangay Binalay here.
In a video call interview on Saturday, Joel Espinoza, popularly known as “Erning Kalabaw” on social media, said he and his family decided to donate their vegetable harvest, mostly eggplant, to their community since it has been on lockdown after a Covid-19 case has been confirmed.
“Napanuod namin yung video na inuudyukan mga mayayaman na tumulong sa mga nangangailangan ngayong krisis. Mahirap lang kami pero yung mga kabarangay namin wala nang maulam kaya kung ano yong sobra-sobra sa amin, pinamimigay na lang namin (We have seen a video of a man calling on rich people to help those in need during this crisis. We are poor like the others but some people in our barangay already lack food to eat. So whatever we have that is more than our need, we share with others),” he said.
Espinoza is a “buko” (coconut) juice vendor in Candon City, Ilocos Sur. He has a wife and one child and his family in Barangay Binalay consist of farmers, just like most of the village residents.
He noted that since the total lockdown in their community, they were unable to leave and there was no satellite market nearby to buy other goods besides what they have within the community.
Only buyers of their products are allowed to enter and leave the community.
“May mga relief goods pero kulang pa rin po. May mga wala nang maulam (There are relief goods but they are not enough. Some no longer have viand),” Espinoza said.
Residents of their community picked the eggplants and other veggies in the Espinozas’ one-and-a-half-hectare field.
“Kadalasan mahigit 200 kilos ang naha-harvest namin dito na talong every other day. At sa loob ng dalawang araw, napitasan na ng mga kabarangay namin ang kalahating ektarya (We usually harvest 200 kg. of eggplant every other day. In two days, people in our community were able to harvest most of the produce in a half-hectare of land),” he said.
Since his video went viral, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have sent donations that have been used to buy rice and distributed it to the community.
“May nagpadala po nung isang araw, mga OFWs na nasa Israel at ipinambili po namin ng apat na sakong bigas na naipamigay na rin namin sa aming mga kabarangay (The other day, OFWs in Israel sent donations and we bought four sacks of rice that we have already distributed),” Espinoza said.
He appealed to the public to donate to their community. He also thanked those who have already donated and the local government of Candon City for bringing them home before Pangasinan was placed under an extremely enhanced community quarantine.
Espinoza’s video drew one million views since it was uploaded on April 2 by his neighbor Osmundo Barboza, hoping to reach more people to help their community. (PNA)