Romeo, 62, is married to Josefina, 64, who had recently survived a stroke in January 2014. He is father to two children: Roldan 28 and Rominick 24 who live together in the same house.

“I was earning an average of 150 pesos ($4.00) a day as a pedicab driver. Though we lived an ordinary life, I chose a convenient way of living. I borrowed some money from the bank which amounted to P10,000 ($250.00) and started to put my sari-sari store together. It sold basic commodities such as rice, canned goods, oil and bottled drinks. My children were also earning from working, though it was often not enough. Roldan already had a wife and needed to support her. What I earned from being a pedicab driver was spent on our food.”

“I decided to continue to work as a pedicab driver because my wife Josefina couldn’t work anymore. She just stayed at home and managed our small store. My family situation was a simple one.”

“We were traumatised by what Yolanda (Haiyan) brought to us. You can see the effect. I just wish that tomorrow we could overcome this. Our house was destroyed. I worked hard to build my house before but the typhoon devastated it. I lost everything. All the stuff from the store was lost, my pedicab was damaged. I am still indebted to the bank. It was hard to start from nothing.”

Romeo-Sabela7-Marc-Parafina“I was very happy that I was given cash assistance by HelpAge-COSE. The 5,000 pesos ($125.00) that I received from them was a big help for me. I decided to purchase a second-hand/used pedicab which was worth 4,300 pesos. I bought it in April and it was a big help. Someone from my community is renting my pedicab for 50.00 pesos per day ($1.25). I always keep the income that is coming from the rental and save it for my store. I can save around 2,400 pesos per month from the rental of my pedicab and I can invest it into the store.
As you can see, I already have my store again. I restarted it in September. I believe that I can re-pay my debt to the bank through my income from the sari-sari store. I also borrowed some items from big suppliers and have to re-pay them through installments. I am currently earning 600.00 pesos per week from the pedicab and I am very grateful for it.”

Romeo-Sabela4-Marc-Parafina“I want to improve the sari-sari store more and buy more items. One of my priorities is to improve its structure, including our house. I want to fix my house so my wife and I will not be nervous everytime it rains.”