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Let's Barter

Getting free stuff you want, may finally make you declutter.

Enter: Iloilo Barter Community – the country’s first province-wide barter community

I heard about the Iloilo Barter Community (IBACO) from a friend after giving her tips on how to best prepare for her move back to Iloilo. She was so excited to tell me about all the decluttering happening in her hometown as it was related to “me”.

The thing that brought about the mass decluttering? Bartering. I was I was so intrigued to learn about this bartering community and that it is happening here, that I tracked down and interviewed the person who started the most successful “almost a family” bartering group in the country.

Bartering – the age-old system of exchange (started in 6000BC) where people involved in the trade would swap goods or services without using money

Charity Delmo, founder of Ideal Visa Consultancy decided to start her own bartering group with some friends based in Iloilo just a few months ago. This small group started posting a few items at first - “One day lang nagkahiyaan…” - then started inviting other fellow Ilonggos to join. Boom. In 3 months since it started, IBACO has grown to almost 100,000 members.

“People hoard things and Ilonggos are no different,” Charity says. This platform motivated people to declutter and participate in bartering.

The whole bartering isn’t really based on exact value, as “value” is based on the eyes of the participants. They themselves determine whether they want to happily engage and accept an item in exchange for what they offer or simply, skip it. A “fair trade” is relative.

Interesting trades:

· bartered a Balenciaga bag for rice and a Correll non stick pan

· a vintage Beetle (yes, the car) for 250 sacks of rice

· LV for an LV

· fruits exchanged for Adidas rubber shoes for people who live in the mountains

· lemongrass for a birthday treat

· an LV swapped for veggies (Charity observed that those who are abundant in food can now experience owning a luxury bag that they may not otherwise purchase for themselves.)

No longer just posting specific items for bartering, posts have now evolved to participants sharing background stories on who and why they want to help in exchange for the offered item. (*I don’t speak Ilonggo but LOL on the 1991 “antique”. Ouch.)

“Having this platform made it easy to be a giver.”

Strictly no money exchange!”

Charity speaks proudly of the community that she has started, sharing that it has promoted a culture of kindness, became an avenue for people to see what others are going through and provided the opportunity to give. Their barters have even helped feed families who may not get to eat multiple times a day especially during the ECQ – people were bartering items for food and donating these to feed others. #barteringforacause

Kindness, giving and sharing. There is a life story going on behind every barter,” says Charity.

I was so thrilled to hear that their community has become way more than just getting free stuff. People in this group help each other. Some have come together to form parties for those who can’t afford one - sending cakes in exchange for nothing.

How it Works:

As for the dedicated work that goes on behind the scenes to keep this community a place of trust, integrity and safety? Her friends are now the Facebook admins of IBACO. Charity even has admins based in the UK to monitor activities round the clock.

It’s a lot of work to be scanning posts for suspicious trades or to spend the time necessary to investigate reported issues before kicking anyone out of the group. The Iloilo admins are super strict as all admins in this type of community should be. They are committed to preserve the quality, trust and heart of the platform and to continue to be an instrument for peace and kindness.

· Serious offenders are kicked out with no second chances. They have ejected about 130,000 members within the different affiliates.

· Reports on participants sending private messages wanting cash also get the boot.

· For members “forgetting” to report item defects, they get banned from accessing the site for 7 days.

The times when there is “money involved” would be situations wherein a person makes a deliberate purchase to meet an exchange. For instance, if someone is trading a potted plant and wants a birthday cake in return, the other person may buy the cake and use that for the barter.

The Iloilo Barter Group now has affiliates abroad like Canada, New Zealand and Manila totaling to 42 communities with 225,000 members (as of June 2020) and counting - and to think Charity started this whole thing with only a small group of friends just last May 13! Charity has also been interviewed on CNN Philippines and other local shows since then.


As a professional organizer who wishes for everyone to have an uncluttered and not-brimming-with-stuff home, my knee jerk reaction hearing all this was - Hey! People will get motivated to declutter! Yay! But then I thought, actually - this might not necessarily clear one’s space of things as upon letting go of an item, a new item comes in immediately to replace the space taken up by the old one…. but then it depends on the type of item…

I decided to let go of this conflicting thought and focus back on the goodness of it all. At least things are moving. Most things enter homes and rarely leave. Have you noticed?

I love how bartering encourages a community to share. One could start within a family, a clan, group of friends, colleagues, within associations, condominiums or within one’s village etc.. Just two weeks ago, a client of mine wanted to get rid of still-really-nice-bookcases in exchange for nothing and I was imagining, if only her village had a trusted barter group, maybe someone from her street could’ve just picked it up.

Charity advises that for smaller groups, it’s best if it’s a community that you already know and for affiliate types, the need for committed, strict admins to constantly surveil activities is non-negotiable.

Still not convinced? Ever heard of the guy who bartered his one red paper clip for a house?


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