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Life Lessons from Barter Communities

People get head-over-heels nowadays with the latest craze in town- the sprouting of online barter communities. The idea stemmed from embracing a cashless community to help in meeting the essentials of people amid the serious threat of the corona virus disease (COVID-19). As the dictionary implies, “barter” is a means of exchanging goods or services without using money.

Iloilo Barter Community
Photo courtesy of Leah Faith Huertas via Iloilo Barter Community

Much has been said about the barter communities especially in Western Visayas. Exciting. Interesting. Entertaining. Flattering. Comical. On a personal note, I haven't sealed any deals yet. However, just reading fruitful barter stories keep me cheerful. It’s a stress buster. Really. This time, allow me to share the collective truths I’ve learned from following these online communities.

1. One man's trash is another man’s treasure
What’s considered to be insignificant to some are rare gems to others. For example, you may no longer need your childhood books as you’ve outgrown them. Poor old classic tales lurked within those shelves with dusts peppered around it. But hey, there’s someone out there who deems it as a priceless possession. Instead of throwing or hiding the books, why not trade it for something that would make your heart flutter once again. You can even check your century-old baul and discover a treasure that’s been hiding for quite some time. It’s a win-win situation, after all.

2. Sometimes, it's not about the price tag
The art of letting go is no easy task. Paintings, old coins, musical instruments, books, and plants. These are a few of your favorite things that spell nostalgia. In fact, no amount of money can ever suffice the sentimental value conveyed by the cherished pleasure you’ve been keeping for ages. This goes to show that not everyone cares about the price tag. In a barter scenario, the money hibernates, giving way for barter items to do the talking.

3. Pursue bright prospects amid the crisis
Yes, the world is in chaos right now with all these brewing concerns relating to the COVID-19. Absence of vaccines, increasing figures of cases and deaths, Poor health system. Travel restrictions. Lack of employment. Those are some of the issues every country is facing. It seemed like hope died a natural death. On a lighter note, the barter community radiates optimism. It underscores worthwhile endeavors that make the most out of the worse situation. Consider the birth of opportunities in various forms – pursuing backyard gardening, baking goodies for your loved ones, learning through reading, playing with your adorable munchkins, keeping yourself physical and mental state in a healthy condition, and the list goes on. Whatever you love doing, go for it.

4. Welcome the gift of friendship
Meeting people from all walks of life is one of the fulfilling experiences you’ll gain from joining barter communities. Your economic or social status, often, does not matter anymore because people see beyond that. You discover interests that spark joy and eventually share it with them. When this crisis is over, celebrate life with your newfound friends. You all deserve it.

5. Be a responsible adult in word and in deed
In the ancient times, laws have been set to avoid chaos and safeguard the general welfare. Consequences apply for individuals who negate the rules. This holds true to the current guidelines of several barter communities. The admins have poured out their time and creative juices to craft policies that uphold peaceful and friendly vibe. Added to that, it’s a huge task to manage a group with over a thousand of members. The thing is, be considerate. Be a responsible adult by following the rules. If you can abide it, it means, you can live with it.

6. Bring back the basics and innovate
Remember when early Chinese traded porcelain and silk to Filipinos through the famous Galleon Trade? Then there was the iconic story of the Bornean datus who bartered the golden salakot to the Atis. Such was a barter system once upon a time that mirrors influence to this date. Come 21st century, a lot of people have found the digital world as a platform to convey business. There’s e-commerce, digital coins, virtual jobs, etc. While barter communities practice a cashless transaction, its online presence speaks of innovation. You flaunt your items through Facebook and when someone has an eye for it, congratulations! You’re up for a great deal. Bottom-line: When technology is married with the past, its results are often substantial.

7. Prioritize needs over wants
Notice that most of the items posted in barter communities are basic essentials of people in rural and urban settings. Diapers. Housewares. Groceries. Toiletries. Relief packs. Plants. Truly, the trying times reflect that survival recognizes the needs over wants.

8. It keeps us human
The barter system also reveals a slice of your character. Folks do amazing things in a community that is sensitive to the urgency of others. Locals have their share in bouncing back the regional economy despite the difficulties. Equally important, the online barter is a powerful reminder to treat people with kindness, respect, and honesty.

9. Barter communities are living legacies that no man is an island
I believe, these barter-friendly communities emphasize the value of social responsibility. With a bunch of members, a huge support is just around the corner. They exist as a helping hand throughout life’s highs and lows.

10. Perfect timing is everything
The crucial hours of waiting for that “seal the deal” moment can be tiring, and sometimes frustrating. Not everything that you wished for will come true. In this case, the waiting game is not yet over. So, fret not. Do not lose hope for tomorrow is another brand new day. It’s okay to experience delays. Stretch more of your patience and you'll see that it's worth it.

As several individuals choose to go online, it is expected that the barter system continues to take the spot light. In Region 6, barter communities have existed in the cities and provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Antique, Aklan, Capiz, and Guimaras. Glad tidings, it is! This calls for more occasions to expand one’s network and build stronger, enriching communities.

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