BECAUSE most of us have the privilege to stay at home since the enhanced community quarantine started, majority of our time is spent online. We work from home, catch up with friends and loved ones via social media, check internet streaming for entertainment and educational purposes, and do even grocery shopping and buying of other essentials online (thank God for the internet).

While looking for a platform that will help dismantle fears, anxiety and hopelessness during this challenging season, head consultant, coach and managing director Bong Abela, together with his IMC Creative Team—Ruben Licera, Iren Licera, Claire Gabuya, Renz Gabuya, Mel Oyas, Jeff Oyas, Paris Gaudan, Carlo Tumulak and Daryl Borces—created a Facebook group called Cebu Barter Community, inspired by a community page Bong himself was invited to join by his friend.

The group aims to create a community where every member can exchange goods or services, connect with or inspire each other using the modified barter system as a model—bringing back the old system of exchanging goods. It was officially launched May 15 and in just a few days, the community page has almost 35,000 members.

What makes it more fun is that almost every member interacts with each other, posting items they no longer need for trade with things they need without any cash involved. Everyone looks forward to every barter item offered.

Some members even got items from their wishlists such as branded bags and jewelry or home appliances and essentials. Others also offer their services like graphic designing or developing a website for trade with their desired items.

And there are also members who exchanged their goods for a meal pack or grocery items for the less-fortunate people and front-liners.

“Some even received surprise notes, and additional items from what has been agreed upon,” shared Bong. To ensure that the spirit of community is properly observed, the administrators have set some rules and guidelines. They also encourage everyone to speak words of hope and kindness, and spread positivity with every comment.

As part of the administering team, Bong shared his first barter experience. He bartered his Marvel stationary set for a sandwich spread set.

“It was an amazing feeling to happily let go of an item that was just lying in the corner and you exchanged it for something that gives you joy. Where can you find this kind of exchange and no cash involve at that?” he shared.


A few of the Cebu Barter Community members share their successful barter experience and some tips on how to score a good deal.

“My first barter experience was a success! I posted one of my premium RTW (ready-to-wear) pieces and asked for a pan (or two) of lasagna in exchange. Everyone posted their offer. They all wanted to have the dress! I kept receiving private messages until the day after. At the end of the day, one had to take the dress, and I got to enjoy two pans of lasagna for dinner!

The barter system is a good way of letting go of things that you love but could no longer use, and at the same time it’s a good way of acquiring things without having to spend a single penny. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Here is my advice for people who wish to join the page:

1. Be realistic. Used items won’t have the same value when you first bought them, same goes with slightly used items. So, don’t expect to get the exact value of an item even if it is “good as brand new” or you just bought it a day ago.

2. Don’t easily get offended. If someone offers you with a much lower value than your item, you either say Yay or Nay. Don’t say anything unnecessary. People have their own way of assessing the value of a certain item (it’s a hidden talent, you know?).

3. Develop relationships. Facebook groups are sprouting like mushrooms and these are good avenues to make friends with people who have the same interests as you. As much as possible, connect with people and widen your network!

4. Have fun!”

• Hanz Coquilla,

Chief executive officer and creative director, COQ888 Garments Manufacturer, Hanz Coquilla Alta Costura, COQUILLE

“When I first joined the group, I immediately checked my closet what items I needed to let go of and found some brand-new towels. I posted these and a friend offered me gift checks in exchange for them. Our deal was done in less than 10 minutes. On the same day, I also posted a pair of brand-new jelly shoes leftover from Christmas shopping. The deal was closed in less than an hour in exchange for a facial moisturizer.

It was that fast and the deals were so good. I felt happy that my items went to people who seemed to really like them. I also loved the things that I got in return. I did not feel that anyone was low-balling me with offers, in fact, everybody that commented on the posts and sent me a message was so nice and funny.

Aside from abiding by the group rules, respect anyone who will post items they want to barter. I wish for Cebu Barter Community to be a safe space for everyone. Whether people post a Mercedes car, a titled island, an old book or a pair of pants for barter, everybody should feel welcome to post and not made to feel bad that they have too much or too little. The old saying really applies well here: ‘Your trash is someone else’s treasure.’ I hope that even after the ECQ is lifted, the barter communities all over the Philippines continue to thrive because they are leading the way to a right, new normal. Instead of throwing away things, we can save resources and the environment by minimizing our impact.”

• Mara Cantonao,

Climate activist, Pusyon Kinaiyahan (Contributed Foto / Liv Campo)

“My children love doing art so I got them one ream of specialty bond paper, good for drawings and sketche. I traded them for a leather-bound travel journal that I made myself.

When bartering, be specific. People would want to know all the details of what you’re trading and what it is that you want.”

• Ed Billones, House husband

“My first barter experience was overwhelming. I did not expect that people would take this as something fun and exciting. This Facebook page brings out the best in all of us; The willingness to share and the openness to accept. I traded beauty products in exchange for yummy snacks.

Everyone is welcome to join and barter from all walks of life. We encourage a respectful, friendly, honest and accepting community.”

• Susan Claire D. Gabuya,

Managing director, Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC)

“It was fun and exciting. I traded my Balenciaga for two baby Sulcata turtle. If you’re up for bartering, do it wholeheartedly. Trade things you don’t need for something you really want.”

• Jasmin Sarmiento Juan,

Chief executive officer, Beauty and Beyond; Operations head, Dr. KLEEN

“I immediately went through my cabinet to find items I didn’t need anymore and I selected something that was uncommon from the posted things so far. I selected teacups that I got years back from a flea market in London, and I thought these might be interesting for the group as you cannot find these pieces, at least the same design, anywhere here.

The experience was fun as I got various offers like Coach Shoes, Branded handbag, vitamins, wallet, watches. It felt good because many appreciated and were interested of my offer.

I offered duos of Royal Arden Porcelain Teacups and I got a Fossil watch in exchange. Be kind to all barter buddies as they are trying to offer the best that they have or what they think is fair. Be fair and have fun.”

• Dave Lantonio,

General manager, Bombardier Cebu