Starweek Magazine

One-woman ukay-ukay

- Minotte Rodrigo-Cuenca -
In the course of our lives, we accumulate more than we need. All those old clothes, toys, magazines, books, baskets and trinkets that we thought we would never part with end up in storage somewhere. Then after many years and layers of dust, we realize that, despite sentimental value, they just have to make way for new things. Our parish priest once told us, "If you have not used or seen a thing in one year, it is not yours. Sell it, throw it or give it away. Someone else can appreciate it more than you."

If you decide to clear out your clutter and make some money on the side, call on Purification Dy–fondly called Aling Puring–and she’ll come to your house to take things off your hands–and even pay you for it. From old clothes, perfume, fancy jewelry, books, magazines, carpets, toys, even doors, windows, pipes, paint, broken furniture and appliances–she’ll take anything you want to discard. You get to clean out your house out and earn some money, too. Quite a good deal, don’t you think?

"Wala akong tinatanggihan, kahit ano binibili ko," says Aling Puring. She rates the goods like a scoreboard–P100, P50, P40, P30, P20, P10 and P5 a piece. Bulky items are sold by the lot (pakyaw). On the average, a transaction will bring the seller about P2,000 to P4,000, although she once paid out a record P35,000–in cash.

"Aling Puring, never ko yan nagamit. May tag pa nga yung Anne Taylor!" Joy Madlansacay quips, but to no avail. One hundred pesos is top price for a piece in good or even unused condition. Aling Puring is indifferent and doesn’t even look at the name brand or hangtag still attached.

Aling Puring’s client list will surely impress. Most live in villages or subdivisions like White Plains, Valle Verde, Forbes Park and Dasmariñas Village. She also visits Parañaque and Mandaluyong, Ayala Alabang and Susana Heights. She surely comes across good finds, which she in turn sells to her buyers. Many of these finds are good quality and slightly used clothing that are certainly good buys for bargain hunters who visit her place in Tondo. Many in turn re-sell the goods to second-hand stalls in Carmen Planas Street in Divisoria, as retro fashion or costume requirements.

"Dati puro damit lang ang binibili ko,
then one time, di ko na matandaan kung sino ang nagbenta sa akin ng appliances. Nabili agad. Mula noon tuloy-tuloy na ang pagbili ko ng mga gamit," Aling Puring explains.

Her store is open everyday from 6 am to 5 pm. There are things that she refuses to sell, like an old wooden chair and a divider which she uses in her store. "Kapag gusto ko ng mga bagay na nabili ko, ayaw ko nang ibenta, kahit kinukulit nila ako. Yang chair na yan, binibili sa akin kahit daw magkano. Sabi ko, umupo na lang kayo, libre naman ang upo," she laughs.

"Mabilis mabili ang mga paninda ko, kasi yung mga
customers ko pa noon, bumibili pa rin sa akin hanggang ngayon," she reveals. "Yung iba na di mabili, sinasako ko tapos pinapakyaw ko. Ang mga karton at papel, binibigay ko nalang sa mga magbobote. Tulong ko na rin."

Aling Puring now lives comfortably in her four-storey–complete with roofdeck–home on Asuncion Street in Tondo. She is 70 years old and has been widowed since 1990. Life has not always been as comfortable and easy as it is today.

She has been buying and selling used goods for almost 40 years. Her first transaction was buying the used clothes of a prominent matron her sister was working for. Mrs. Matron then referred Aling Puring to her other friends.

"Limang daan lang ang pera ko noon. Pero sa tiwala sa akin ng mga kliyente ko, lumaki at lumaki rin ang puhunan ko," Aling Puring recalls. "Noon, umuupa lang kami ng sobrang liit na apartment. Pag nakaupo kayong magkaharap, magbabanggaan ang tuhod! Naisip ko, bakit ba ganoon ang nangyari sa amin. Mabuti na lang hindi ako nawalan ng tiwala sa Diyos."

She peddled the matrons’ goods from a kariton along the streets of Divisoria. She set out at 3 am daily and braved heat, rain and fatigue for many years. Many times she was so lonely, she would sit on the sidewalk and cry. Her children discouraged Aling Puring from street work after she was almost hit by a car while crossing the busy streets.

Single-handedly, Aling Puring has put all her three children through college. They are now all professionals with their own families. Susan, the eldest, has her own used clothing stall in Cainta. Ma. Luisa is an executive secretary with a management degree and the youngest, Benjamin, is an engineer and is now connected with PLDT.

"I am glad that they are now all living comfortably. Ako lang ang nagsilbing key para gumanda ang buhay nila, na ibinabalik naman nila sa akin ngayon," she says, explaining that it was her children who helped her get a loan to build the four-storey building that serves as residence, store and bodega. They also helped her purchase two utility vehicles to haul the goods.

Her daily transactions range from P2,000 to a high of P35,000. She pays cash for all her purchases. "Ayoko mag-tseke, magulo. Hindi pa naman ako nasira sa pagbayad sa kliyente. Sa appointments lang, minsan nasisira ako kasi hindi ako nakakarating minsan kasi sobrang daming tumatawag," she explains.

Aling Puring is philosophical about how life turns out. "Nakuha ko ang kasaganahan sa sikap at tiyaga. Grade 4 lang natapos ko pero hindi ako nawalan ng loob. Basta lagi kong partner ang Panginoon at lagi akong nagtitiwala sa kanya. Importante sa akin ang pamilya ko. Masaya na kami pag kumakain sa labas. Importante rin na pinagkakatiwalaan ka ng mga kliyente mo, para hindi ka masira. Hindi ko puwedeng lokohin ang mga kliyente ko."

Even now, she is up at the crack of dawn to entertain her buyers. Mornings she goes around to make purchases–she does not accept goods brought to her, since these might have been stolen–and afternoons she minds her store. She enjoys interacting with different kinds of people and has learned a lot from her job. She feels that she is helping her clients when she rids them of their clutter. "Para silang gumiginhawa," she says.

"I can’t tell you how relieved I am! All this clutter was making me so anxious, I felt stuck," Joy sighs as she gets ready for her move to a new place.

"Huwag kayong mag-alala, maraming mas makakagamit niyan," Aling Puring reassures a client. "Nagkapera na kayo, para pa kayong nakatulong sa ibang tao."

When the clutter is hauled away, Aling Puring notices the inevitability of her clients’ relief–they literally feel lighter and more peaceful. The new-found space allows her clients to breathe–"nabubuhayan sila."

Aling Puring brushes aside all notions of retirement. "Kahit magbakasyon ayoko. Malulungkot ang mga buyers ko kapag nawala ako," she says, insisting that the interaction with her clients keeps her young.

It’s never too late to peek into those closets and sort out those circa ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s stuff. All you have to do is make a commitment to let go. Call Aling Puring soon and experience the meaning of unburdening.

(Editor’s Note: Aling Puring may be reached at tel. no. 241-6565. She is usually booked a month or more in advance.)

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