'Legit sellers': Honesty and quality as their vegetable business' currency
Raffy Unay loads produce on his tricycle after buying goods in Pasig. The vegetables and seafood will go to customers of an online marketplace in Cainta.
Philstar.com/Jazmin Tabuena

'Legit sellers': Honesty and quality as their vegetable business' currency

Jazmin Tabuena (Philstar.com) - May 6, 2021 - 5:11pm

CAINTA, Philippines — Since the global pandemic started last year, Filipinos have become more cautious about visiting grocery stores and wet markets due to the fear of getting the COVID-19 virus.

Fortunately, a village community in Cainta decided to form an online mercato, to help fill each others' needs — from groceries, ready-to-eat food and tech finds — and to try to make ends meet.

“Mang Raffy” and Socorro Unay, relying mostly on word of mouth, are two of the quietly celebrated online sellers in the community.

Originally from Marilao, Bulacan, the couple already has 17 years of experience running their own school canteen. Now, they are bringing their expertise to the community's dining tables.

Mang Raffy drives his tricycle from Cainta, Rizal to the Pasig Mega Market and meticulously picks his orders from midnight until dawn.

Fresh produce from Baguio farmers is one of the reasons Mang Raffy prefers to buy from Pasig Mega Market even at midnight over supermarkets where goods are more expensive and the selection is limited.

"Mas malalaki ang benta rito tsaka flawless (The produce here is bigger and of better quality)," he says, showing the carrots he picked. 

Mang Raffy is already quite known and trusted in the Pasig Mega Market and the sellers there give him prompt service. He can even leave his picks at the stalls and come back for them later.

According to his wife Socorro, most people at the market in the wee hours are businessmen and women, there to get first dibs on the freshest produce.

After a long night’s work, Mang Raffy drives his packed tricycle and ensures that he's disinfected before entering his home, safe for his wife and children. 

Before the pandemic, the couple usually went to the market together. 

"Pero simula no’ng nagka-pandemic, hindi niya na ako sinasama dahil sa virus (But since the pandemic started, he doesn't me bring me along because of the virus)," Socorro said.

The couple’s home resembles a mini market with the weighing scale, boxes of products, and a list they update after every market visit. 

"Halos lahat na ng kakailanganin ng tao, pinoprovide namin… para maiwasan ‘yong sobrang risk na mahawa sa COVID, so tinake na namin ‘yong risk, and kami naman malakas ang faith namin sa Panginoon that He will cover us from the virus, while taking the risk, we are helping the people in the community," Socorro said.

(We provide almost everything that people need so they will not have to take too many risks of catching COVID. So we take the risk for them and we have faith that God will cover us from the virus.) 

Even if the the sellers at the wet market clean the fish and meat products, Mang Raffy still cleans everything again.

 "Nillinis ko yung isda, gulay, tinatanggalan ko ng bituka, hasang, para lulutuin na lang talaga ng customer... sisipatin namin ng mabuti, iniisip namin, tao ‘yung kakain nito eh," Mang Raffy says.

(I clean the fish, gut and clean them so all the customer has to do is cook. We inspect everything, we have to remember that someone will eat this.)


The Unay couple starts working at dawn. Mang Raffy is in charge of cleaning the seafood and Socorro handles disinfecting and packing their products and inventory. All ready to be delivered unit to unit by their son at 8 a.m..

“Unique mong makikita 'yon sa reseller, na nag-nenegosyo, hindi siya nandadaya, pero hindi niya i-sasacrifice ‘yong quality ng ginagawa niya... hindi na ako maghahanap ng ibang serbisyo,” a satisfied customer says.

(It's unique to see that in a reseller, in someone in business. He doesn't cheat us... he doesn't sacrifice the quality of his work. I won't look for another service.)

Other community sellers may fool customers with deceiving photos and dismaying actual products, but customers come back to Mang Raffy and Socorro’s business because of their personal care, whether it’s bulk vegetable orders or the ‘ulam’ they cook for special orders.

In return, they have gained loyal customers from Marikina, Makati, Rizal, and, recently from Cebu — whom they had to turn down because of the volume of their current customers. They thrive in the goodness that they do.

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