The Samahang Manininda sa UP Campus (SMUPC) expressed disappointment over outgoing UP President Danilo Concepcion’s failure to provide space for the vendors at the newly built UP Diliman Gyud Food Hub.
Gyud Food is a two-story multipurpose hall along E. Jacinto Street across the College of Fine Arts inaugurated last December 21, 2022. During the hub’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Concepcion said the building’s purpose was to give convenience and more food choices to UP students and faculty.
UP Diliman chancellor Fidel Nemenzo also expressed support for the food hub during the ceremony stating, “This is a signal that UP Diliman is again opening up to the public.”
But for UP’s maninindas, the hub’s opening could be an ominous sign of further commercialization of the university’s spaces. “Laking gulat nang mabukas ang naturang food hub sa nagdaang Disyembre 2022 ay walang nakalaang pwesto para sa aming maliliit na manininda,” the group said in its statement on January 25.
UP maninindas are a staple to campus culture, having been known to provide convenience, proximity, and affordable food not just for the university community, but also for campus visitors. However, maninindas have been at the receiving end of displacement for years already.
“Matagal na panahong pinagbabawal ng administrasyon ng UP ang mga manininda sa loob ng kampus. Karaniwan ding sinisita at hinahabol ng mga pulis ng UP upang pigilan ang pagtitinda,” SMUPC said.
The group also expressed frustration over the lack of support from the administration to help them recover after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and work-from-home policies which limited the number of patrons on campus.
Only 41 out of 70 maninindas are back to their prepandemic spaces, according to Narry Hernandez, the president of the SMUPC. However, until now, maninindas continue to experience paltry income because of fewer students on campus due to the blended learning setup.
While in-person setup for classes will be more frequent this semester, the vendors fear that the university administration would not attend to their calls for their return to their prepandemic spaces—an issue that began to hound maninindas even before the pandemic hit. After the Shopping Center burned down in 2018, only a few affected vendors were able to get spaces on the campus.
With the rumored establishment of SM Savemore and the impending opening of the rebuilt Shopping Center, maninindas fear that commercialized establishments would force them to further lose profit due to the high price of rent and uneven competition.
And even for the UP community, the hub might not offer budget-friendly food options. The Gyud Food Hub has a wide range of food choices, from Asian to European delicacies. However, concessionaires are forced to increase prices as rent space comes at a hefty price ranging from P15,000 to P25,000.
“Hinaharap naming manininda sa UP ngayon ang mga panibagong banta sa aming kabuhayan, tumitinding krisis, at kawalang kasiguruhan. Sa tagpong ito, kami' y nananawagan sa komunidad ng UP na ipatanggol ang karapatan naming maliliit na manininda na manatili sa loob ng kampus,” the group said. ●
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