There’s a rapidly growing Cebu-based community on Facebook and it’s one of the most fun groups you’ll ever join. What’s it about? Nothing controversial or fancy. Just that centuries-old system of exchanging goods or services called bartering.
I was invited to join the Cebu Barter Community (CBC) by Bong Abela, consultant and managing partner of IMCreatives, on May 18, 2020 when there were only 114 members. The group, which was created on May 15, has since grown exponentially, with over 50,000 members as of May 24.
One immediately sees why. There hasn’t been any online group of its kind that has attracted this much attention because the concept is fun, one that brings people together while promoting camaraderie, trust, generosity and the need to keep only what is essential. For Gen X’ers like me, it also brings us back to that distant past when we would barter perfumed stationery during recess in school.
Second, there are basic and easy-to-follow guidelines set by the Council of Admins Bong Abela, Ruben and Iren Licera, Claire and Renz Gabuya, Jeff and Mel Oyas, Daryl Borces, Carlo Tumulak and Paris Gaudan, encouraging members to spread good vibes amidst these trying times. They also maintain that the barter experience will always be free, fair and fun for all.
Third, the process is fast and fuss-free. Members post photos or videos of the items they want to trade, their descriptions as well as the goods they want in exchange for the posted items, with the hashtag #forbarter. They may also indicate how much they bought the items for in order to guide interested members.
Then the “bidding” starts. This is when members post their offers, hoping they get chosen. The posters can then pick from among the many goods offered by fellow members. Both parties usually come to an agreement although there will always be items with no takers. Once the deal is sealed, the member adds the hashtag #donedeal.
Keeping this community even more alive are the fun banter and interactions, which are oftentimes spontaneous and laden with that signature Bisdak humor.
For example, someone posted his BMW in exchange for a Benz, Cooper or Audi. The post was met with several witty quips, with one offering a one-year supply of ginabot for it. Another replied: “I just left. Pobre ko,” in reference to Cebuana actress Ellen Adarna’s famous relationship quote, “I just left. Gwapa ko.”
And don’t get me started on how varied and eye-popping most of the choices are.
Of course, there are the essentials these days: face masks, alcohol, disinfectant, food. There are also the usual clothes, shoes, jewelry, designer bags and watches. I’ve come across members offering their photography or graphic design services and cooking skills. There are also those who want stuff in exchange for their fancy gadgets, apartments, a piece of lot, and—hold your breath—even a 2-hectare island in Surigao del Sur!
One particular post that caught my attention was that of a lady who wanted her pair of Dolce & Gabbana Belluci shoes (bought at P59,000) traded with a month’s supply of meat, veggies and rice. She said she will donate the goods to families in Barangay Zapatera, a village in Cebu City which had several cases of the coronavirus disease.
Another member swapped his pair of shoes with a sack of rice, which he would give to the janitors and maintenance staff of his condo.
After reading the post of one member who gave up his Michael Kors watch in exchange for food and other items to be given to Everlasting Hope, an organization that takes care of kids with cancer, several individuals have also reached out to send their help to the children.
It is these gestures of generosity that create a ripple of kindness, making a community, whether on Facebook or in the “real world,” even more meaningful.
CBC aims to build a community that fosters positivity. Only 10 days since it was created, the group is already on the right track.
“Our goal is to help arrest fear, anxiety and negativity as a way of coping in this season,” Bong says. “We are conceptualizing more ideas and inputs to keep the engagement.”
All in the spirit of fun, the members are quick to react, not unlike your typical barkada, when they read a post that’s intriguing or downright hilarious.
On Saturday afternoon, a lady posted photos and a video of her diamond engagement ring. Her reason for bartering? “Missing na ang naghatag (The giver has gone missing).” Her post was immediately flooded with comments, ranging from the serious to the sympathetic to good-natured teasing. She struck a deal in no time.