Grave cleaners, flower vendors complain of sluggish ‘Undas’

ILOILO CITY -- The observance of “Undas” is an opportune time for enterprising individuals to earn extra income but flower vendors and some cemetery workers here said business is sluggish this year compared to last year.

Well Derago said aside from cleaning and maintaining the tomb of his dead relatives, he also accepts jobs from those who would request the grave of their loved ones painted.

“That’s our source of income every ‘Undas’. Our income though varies depending on the size and the extent of work,” he said, adding that they usually charge PHP500. However, as of Wednesday, he was able to paint only one tomb.

The same sentiment was shared by Dondon Palabrica. While he also accepts painting jobs, he said that he has no client yet. He was asked though to clean tombs for a fee of PHP200 each.

“Since this morning, I was able to clean two tombs,” he said. Last year he said that he had up to 10 clients.

He added though that the job was only his sideline because during ordinary days he works in a construction firm.

Raymond Abella also accepts painting and cleaning jobs. He said sometimes, he earned PHP300 a day, as he hoped to have at least three clients on the last day before the “Undas”.

The three are all residents of Tanza at the city proper, the location of the biggest public cemetery of Iloilo City with more than 10,000 tombs.

They claimed that some relatives decided to clean the tombs of their dead relatives on their own rather than hire others.

Meantime, vendors at the Jaro plaza also complained of lesser sales. For the first time, the city government decided to place all vendors inside the plaza to make them accessible to buyers.

In the previous years, the vendors were situated at the back of the Jaro cathedral, which was located just beside the road.

Norlie Montaรฑo, a flower vendor for more than 10 years from Arevalo district, said that sales last year was a bit good but these days they still have plenty of stocks.

She said that flowers are sold depending on the types and the floral arrangement. Flowers sourced from Cebu are also cheaper when compared with those coming from Dangwa in Manila.

A basket of flowers costs between PHP100 and PHP250. Wreaths range from PHP400 above.

Mary Mae Ledera, also from Arevalo, said that last year as early as Oct. 29 they already had buyers for their flowers. This year, she only sold PHP125 as of October 30. Buyers are lesser, she said.

“This is a business that has been handed down from generation to generation,” she said. Whether or not they will decrease prices on Nov. 1 will depend on the number of buyers.

The city government has issued permits to 364 flower vendors. The bulk is at the Jaro plaza with 134 and Central market with 131 vendors. Other vendors are in Molo district with 14; La Paz, 10; Arevalo, 26; Mandurriao, eight; Aldeguer Street, 29 and terminal market with 14 flower vendors.

Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa, during an on-the-spot check on Tuesday evening, urged flower vendors not to sell flowers at “exorbitant” price and instead sell them at “reasonable” rates. (PNA)

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