This is not your usual ukay-ukay store. In here, âbuying is the best way of giving,â as their slogan goes. Itâs a place where the rich and the poor merge though not physically, where the buyer is actually both the beneficiary and the donor.
Bayanihan, that indomitable Filipino spirit of communal unity, is often reflected when natural calamities hit the Philippines. But in here that spirit is lived everyday as a purchase of one or two items already makes a difference especially to someone who is so in need.
Segunda Mana, a brainchild of Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, is a charity store that promotes a culture of giving. It accepts all types of items from used to old and new stuff that Caritas sells for cheap prices. The proceeds go to fund Caritas projects for the poor.
A deviation from the term âsegunda manoâ or second hand, Segunda Mana promotes the culture of passing on something that is not only previously owned but something that has value to its owner. It thrives on that old Christian teaching that there is blessing in giving.
Gilda Cortez, Segunda Manaâs program head, said the project started in 2007 with more than 3,000 corporate and individual donors already giving out all sorts of items than can be sold at very cheap prices from as low as P5 for a bar of beauty soap to a sack full of clothes worth Php10.
The project has become so successful that Caritas has just opened a seventh Segunda Mana charity store at the Isetann Cinerama Complex in Recto Avenue. Two more outlets are set to be inaugurated this year. Other shops are already in place at the Makati Cinema Square, Harrison Plaza, Star Mall, Victory Central Mall, Sta. Lucia Mall, and its first store at the office of Caritas Manila in Pandacan.
According to Cortez, an estimated P40 million have been gathered from the proceeds of all Segunda Mana outlets including one roving store moving around Catholic churches since the project started almost five years ago.
âA lot of people are really giving. Itâs sharing and giving as well since when you buy, you not only help Caritas but you are also helping the poor,â she said in an interview.
Around three hundred corporate sponsors, including huge companies such as one Â retail giant, have also made regular donations of new items to Segunda Mana. Caritas accepts all types of items from clothes to bags, to stationery and toys, and even electronic appliances including those that needed repair.
âWe also recycle. If the clothes needed laundry, we wash them. If the items need repairing, we repair them. Nothing is wasted here,â added Cortez.
Segunda Mana is also not like the regular Ukay-Ukay store where you sneeze your way out of the outlet because dusts have gathered on the items for centuries.
As a church-based endeavor, Segunda Mana has limits in receiving Donationsâit does not accept items such as toy guns, pornographic magazines and books, and pirated DVDs.
What makes it also different from second-hand outlets is that the items at Segunda Mana are donated and the proceeds used to fund Caritasâ education, health, disaster management, and prison projects. The buyer also becomes not just a beneficiary of a donated item but a donor of sorts as the proceeds go to the poor.
Unlike Ukay-Ukay or second-hand stores, Segunda Mana thrives in the idea that everything, whether big or small, means something especially to the less privileged.