A 42-year-old welder from Barangay Valenzuela, Makati City used the cash assistance he received from the government to put up a street food stall to get through these trying times.

Mario Lutang, one of many workers hard-hit by the pandemic, said he was laid off from his job after lockdowns in the National Capital Region (NCR).

He took every opportunity to survive during the community quarantine.

In May, the Makati City government has launched a PHP2.7-billion Makatizen Economic Relief Program (MERP) fund to assist around 500,000 residents.

Lutang and his wife, Veronica, were among the beneficiaries of the “Maka-Tulong 5k for 500k+” project under MERP, with financial assistance amounting to PHP5,000 given to residents affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

After receiving the cash aid from the local government, Lutang put up a street food business to provide him a regular source of income.

Lutang formerly took a vocational course in welding at the University of Makati, which helped him build his own fishball cart that he can use for selling street foods and refreshments.

Lutang is earning PHP500 to PHP600 daily since he started doing business on July 15.

Mario Lutang, 42, sells street foods and refreshments in this undated photo. He used his cash assistance to put up a food business to get through the pandemic. (PNA contributed photo)

“I spent my PHP5,000 to buy materials for the food cart, and I borrowed some of my wife’s money to buy the initial inventory. I used around PHP1,000 to buy the items we were going to sell,” Lutang said, noting that he was thankful to the local government for allowing him to start anew amid the crisis.

In her twitter post, Mayor Abigail Binay lauded Lutang for his determination and perseverance.

“He had the foresight to use the city’s cash assistance to generate sustainable income for him and his family. On behalf of the city government, we applaud you,” Binay said, branding him as a role model for other residents.

“Thank you for serving as an example of hope and resilience to all of us. You are truly a model #Proudmakatizen,” she said.

The Department of Labor and Employment earlier said the community quarantine measures imposed to contain the Covid-19 have affected over three million workers throughout the country. (Lade Jean Kabagani, PNA)