The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting community lockdowns have resulted in creative ways of doing business, that is, bartering, or the exchange of goods without using money.
A Catholic priest in the central Philippines, however, said “Jesus teaches us not to barter, but to give, sometimes give until it hurts.”
“I am not into bartering, I am into charity and generous giving,” said Father Kim Margallo of the Archdiocese of Palo, when asked about the “Christian perspective” of bartering.
The priest said there is “nothing bad” about the practice because it is a “vehicle for trade” and long before money was invented, people bartered goods.
“From the perspective of the economy, any trade barter is good and useful,” he said.
“The things that I have that I do not need anymore or need at the moment I will bargain with something I truly need this time,” added Father Margallo.
The Catholic priest, however, said that “when it comes to the economy of God,” He is the “ultimate giver, the Giver who does not require something in return.”
“That is what we are supposed to do,” he said, adding that it is the way “to truly live the Christian faith.”
The priest said barter is good but not ideal when it comes to Christian teaching and living.
“The rules of bartering require that for every product or item that you offer, you demand something equivalent,” he explained.
“It is right and proper when it comes to the law of trade and commerce, but it is not the way of God, the Church, and the Christian disciples,” he said.
“In the end, the Church teaches us to do charitable acts, give to people who are in need, help them … because you knew how it is to have nothing, and it is your responsibility to help those in need by virtue of our baptism,” said Father Margallo.
The priest reminded the Catholic faithful that “we are asked to give and not expect something in return for we are just stewards of the earthly goods.”
Rhoel Ladera, 42, a businessman in the city of Tacloban, said bartering is a way of helping people.
“We are exchanging something without the need for money. What’s worthless or not important to them may be a treasure to others,” he said.
One time, Ladera was able to barter his sunglasses for a sack of rice that he donated to health frontliners.
Jen Garcia, a barter enthusiast, said most people prefer to barter because they do not have enough cash to buy food.
She said Filipinos are very creative to find ways to procure basic needs without resorting to stealing and corruption.
The group Global Barter Community said they “envision a world where kindness is without borders and humanity is defined by the extent with which every race can help one another to survive the global impact of the pandemic and adapt to the ‘new normal.”
Barter communities in the country have earlier expressed opposition to proposals to impose tax on bartered goods.