ESSENCE - Liagaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - July 4, 2020 - 12:00am

How far are we going to give up something for another person's wants and happiness? Then we can have ours to do the same? The old barter idea has been part of humankind since the beginning, thousands of years before gold, silver, or money was introduced, makes sense in the midst of a pandemic. This has become a way of connecting with others at a time when many of us feel lonely. It is a medium that stimulates hearts to connect, share, build, and remove fears, anxiety, and despair.

In the economic crisis, bartering is a common side effect because it occurred in the past when societies or countries faced significant economic challenges and many "community currencies", or types of local currency, were generated to such an extent. Each time there is a significant economic downturn, bartering happens.

Not too long ago, a lawyer friend confided in me that he had no choice but to accept goods like chicken, rice, painting, and many others, or even services like automobile repair, plumbing, house cleaning, among others from his poor clients in rural areas in exchange for his legal services. For him and perhaps for other professionals, this has become a tradition that cannot easily be removed.

Barter also has its local versions and groups have developed Facebook pages in some parts of the world out of necessity for cashless exchange of products and things because many companies are struggling and many people have lost their jobs or have not earned.

And the exchange items range from unimaginable small and relatively cheap to expensive and worthwhile items. And the trade products are so different, including an expensive collection of earrings for five sacks of rice donated to the less-fortunate ones. One is a pre-loved wristwatch traded for five trays of eggs given to children with cancer. Such an exchange has a greater cause that for sure our disadvantaged brothers and sisters can benefit from.

A bid for a two-hectare farm lot may also be a house with a pool within a subdivision. Naturally this has a strong reason for the owner to participate in this form of trade. The list is a long way from over. Think of an object and one from the other side of the world has something to be traded for, something to be useful for him too.

But something odd can also take place when some have decided to let go of the items given to them by their former lovers. With memories attached to the items, this act would probably be difficult for some, but if this would make others happy then such an act would satisfy.

We have no control over the intent and motives of people offering items for barter. Many who are in it enjoy the connection and are glad to be able to let go of things that can bring joy on others.

Then there is the question as to whether or not they will shut down the group when all of this is over. The barter inevitably does, but as the concept of helping others persists, it will also possibly turn into something else. There are people out there who don't have food, who don't have clothing, and who feel comfortable in the community where they can ask for support without being judged. And so I suppose even without a pandemic, that’s important to have.

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