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“I-barter mo na!” The Resurgence Of Bartering In The Philippines

There was an immediate rise of search volume in Google for the term “barter” in the country

Photo by Loifotos from Pexels

Author, Marjorie Mendoza

Now, you have probably heard this from your Sibika at Kultura subject during your elementary years, but bartering has been present in the Philippines long before the Spanish colonized our country. It seems that barter trade is making a come-back. 

There was an immediate rise of search volume in Google for the term “barter” in the country. From April to May, iPrice Group conducted a study that saw a big jump of up to 407% in total search volume. This also applies to related keywords such as “barter trade” going up 203%. We could say that Filipinos are really getting into bartering much like we did back in the good old days. 

What is also interesting is that most people engaging in barter trade in the country are from outside Metro Manila. iPrice Group analyzed 85 popular Facebook barter groups in the country, a total of 2,150,448 Filipinos are in one way or another, members of these groups. 72% out of 85 are groups outside of Metro Manila which accounts for 1,902,873. 

Our hypothesis is that the supply chain in areas outside NCR might have been affected due to the lockdown. Being an archipelago, it is a challenge to transport goods from one place to another. Filipinos living in Metro Manila might have a lesser need to resort to bartering than in other major cities and provinces in the Philippines.

Why are Filipinos Getting into Bartering?

From as trivial as cancelling your leisure travel plans to having diminished income or completely losing your job, nobody could have foreseen how the state of the world changed in a matter of months. One thing is for sure – Filipinos are resilient and resourceful, we always find ways (#BDO™). So, why are Filipinos engaged in bartering?

To Declutter. By Marie Kondo-ing all the clutter, we feel more productive. Instead of throwing away random things in your storeroom, why not just barter these items? A #DoneDeal and cleaning your house at the same time surely raises those endorphins. 

To Grab Essential Items. Perhaps the biggest reason why many Filipinos are now into bartering is to grab essential items. With community quarantine making it a bit difficult to get groceries, food, cleaning supplies, and other necessities, bartering items makes it easier for Filipinos to access these daily essentials.

To Socialize and Get a Sense of Community. Being in community quarantine is tough. No matter how introverted we are, we need to talk to people.By bartering, you get to meet others albeit the social distancing and get a sense of community. Somehow, just by knowing that someone out there is experiencing the things the same way you do brings comfort. 

What are the Most Commonly Bartered Items by Filipinos?

With the number of cases rapidly climbing in the Philippines, it looks to be that bartering will become part of our new normal. What is great about this system is you don’t need money to participate; you get what you need for the right item. So, what items do Filipinos commonly barter?

Food Items and Groceries. On iPrice Group’s recent study of 6 Interesting Things Filipinos Search For During the Coronavirus Lockdown groceries and food items remain a top priority amongst Filipinos and are some of the most bartered items in the community from canned goods, milk, fresh fruits, veggies, and meat. In the month of May, the keywords “barter food” grew by 300% in search volume on Google. 

Baby Care Products. iPrice saw that people started searching for the keywords “barter baby” in May. In the end, it makes sense; babies grow up super fast, kids will eventually outgrow all the clothes, cradles, car seats, and strollers, no matter how much you wish they won’t. Just a PSA, please don’t trade old baby bottles and teats, plastics can deteriorate over time and could pose a health risk for your baby. 

Plants and Gardening. According to a published study by Journal of Physiological Anthropology, plants can reduce physical and psychological stress. Even NASA has done extensive research on how plants can reduce up to 87% of toxins in the home in their most cited research in the plant community. With the kind of stress that most of us are under, there’s no denying that we turn to nature for some healing. 

Bicycles and Parts. Majority of Filipinos take public transport and due to the community quarantine in place, jeepneys and pedicabs are no longer operational. The popularity of bicycles has become so big that the Local Government of Davao City quickly created bike lanes to accommodate commuters who switched to cycling. Expectedly, data shows a rise in searches for the keywords “barter bicycles” on Google. 

Just a quick PSA before you start offering everything you see in your living room for barter, make sure that you trust the person you’re trading with since bartering has no customer protection or warranties. You might want to start with friends or distant family members if you’re not confident. Make sure to social distance and take a chance to give back to the community!

Marjorie Mendoza is the Content Lead at iPrice

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iPrice curates highly insightful data that are unique and unbiased in the world of tech, e-commerce, and online retail by providing data-rich, interactive, and media-specific targeted content that varies from the latest tech trends to the top e-players in Southeast Asia. They also provide high-quality country-specific insights and data on seven markets, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Through collaborations with data partners such as App Annie Intelligence, SimilarWeb, and Parcel Perform, iPrice has been featured on numerous prominent publications including South China Morning Post, Bloomberg, Motley Fool, Nasdaq, IGN, and Tech Crunch, to name a few.

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