A scheduled field trip in the month of March was rescheduled several times and finally it happened on the 11th of May. The PSHF Bacolod team rode a rented a vehicle to visit loan and medical grant recipients in rural parts of Negros Occidental bringing donated clothing to give away. The purpose of this field trip was to meet medical grant recipients with who we had lost touch and loan recipients who had fallen into arrears in their payback.
Our first visit was to the farthest projects in Ma-ao, Bago city, near the Prayer Mountain up from the famous Buenos Aires mountain resort. We were hoping to meet Alemar Villanueva but unfortunately she was no longer residing there. We talked to Mr. & Mrs. Gonzaga, the couple who administered the church Alemar used to work in and they informed us that she had left to work as a domestic helper in Qatar a couple of months ago. They told us they did not have her contact number but she is the one who contacts them. She has sent money once through them to be given to her two children who are with her mother. We exchanged contact numbers and they assured us they would remind Alemar about her loan balance with the PSHF.
When we got back to our vehicle, our driver, Kirby was on his knees changing a flat tire so we decided to stroll down the road to our second project that was at least a kilometre away. Virgie Capillo’s house was far from the road so we decided to drop by her mother’s house which was just along the way. We were able to meet her mother and sister who informed us that she was working in La Carlota city to support her children and seldom comes home. We exchanged numbers and they will tell Virgie about our visit and remind her of her loan so she can send payments. Going back to the vehicle was a challenge because it was uphill but instead of getting tired we enjoyed the mountain scenery and appreciated the wild plants and flowers that decorated the sides of the road. We arrived just as the new tire was being replaced.
Our next stop was supposed to be Amid Fernando’s place but our way was blocked by a tricycle tilted on its side on the rocky road. It was stranded and the passengers were not that cooperative. We decided to skip the visit to Amid because it seemed like the tricycle would take a long time before it would advance and besides the road was very rocky and we now had no spare tire. We drove on to visit the Sebaste family. The dirt road going to their place was also rocky but it was manageable. We had some donated clothes to give to the Sebaste children but sadly they were not in their old house anymore. According to their neighbours their Aunt Victoria was taking care of Roselyn and the other siblings were living with their father in Himamaylan. Mary Ann gave birth to a baby boy in April and regrettably the father of the child has refused to give any support.
Bong-Bong Roylan lived nearby so we paid him a visit. He was doing some carpentry for a neighbour and his wife, Crisdy who was having lunch stopped eating to call Bong-Bong who hurriedly came home to meet us. He gave us an update on his sister Alfreda whom the PSHF had helped with a medical grant years ago. We told him to come and visit the office when Alfreda comes back so the two of them can be assisted for a check-up with the doctor. We gave them some of the clothing that we had brought and took some photos with them too. They invited us for lunch but we decided to go out and find an eatery instead.
After lunch at the Ma-ao market we headed back to Bacolod city but took a short cut to visit a specific project in our second area, the town of Murcia. Sybil Tuazon is never around when Warlita comes to visit and indeed she was not at home this time. Her brother and sister-in-law were there and told us that she is busy in their church that is why she is usually not around. We exchanged contact numbers and they told us they would inform Sybil when she comes home. Our next destination was Handumanan.
Teresita Ferrer lives in a relocation site in Handumanan. Warlita has stopped visiting because the transport expense to get there is high and Teresita invariably has no payment. We arrived around 2:00 P.M. in the afternoon and the heat was extreme. We saw Teresita’s children sitting under the shade of a tree near their house. They called their mother and we decided to sit outside because it was so hot inside the house. We greeted her husband who was lying on a bed near the door; Teresita told us that he had recently had a liver operation. She was the first loan recipient we were able to meet that day but sadly her business is no more and she barely has any money to buy food. Regrettably, she has also incurred debts from her husband’s hospitalisation.
Remy Oguilla lived in the same area so we asked around and looked for her house, we got a little lost but finally found her house. Since it was Sunday, she and her family were most likely in church and a nice lady neighbour offered to lead us there. Unfortunately Remy was attending the main branch of the church that day but we did meet some church mates of hers who were intrigued about the meaning of PSHF on our shirts. They are members of a women’s group with a special emphasis on livelihood so we gave them our contact details and told them to come and visit the office when they have time. Alijis was our next visit.
Jesusa Caparon is never at home when Warlita comes to visit and today was no exception. Her nephew came to meet us and told us she was always out and would come home late at night. He was kind enough to give us her number and told us he will inform her about our visit. Our driver, Kirby told us that he knew Jesusa’s family because one of her sons is a motorcycle rider and their family is of good financial standing. They have acquired a vehicle recently and we are all surprised by this. Warlita will contact her and make another visit next month.
We also got a little lost looking for Diosdada Salido but finally got to meet her at her son’s house. Diosdada was a field worker with us 20 years ago so this was a nice chance for Bernie and her to reminisce about the old days. She offered us bread and drinks and even gave Warlita tips on how to handle delinquent projects. We thanked her for her hospitality and headed off to our fifth and last area, Vista Alegre.
Upon reaching the church, we were surprised that there were a lot of people and they kept asking us why we had come late. It was after a few minutes that we were informed it was their church anniversary. Last year we were invited and came as guests. Even though we were late they still had food left for us and we had an early dinner. Marites was six months pregnant and her sister, Marichu was there to visit. She and Ms. Bernie had a good talk about the good old PSHF times and updated each other of their present lives and we had a very good meal.
After dinner we went to visit projects nearby, Nilda Caro was taking care of her grandchildren and we gave them a few clothes. She is interested in applying for a loan for her sari-sari store after her daughter, Debbie finishes paying off their present loan. She also adopted two of the PSHF cats and this was another reason why Ms. Bernie wanted to visit Vista Alegre so that she could arrange for Nilda to have the unspayed cat spayed.
We then talked to Sonieta Tillana who sadly related to us that she had lost her job in ferrying a neighbour's child to school and got sick. Her husband also has on and off schedules as a security guard and money is really scarce in the family. She promised to make a payment when things become lighter next month.
Wilma Jaco sadly told us about her son losing his job and their electricity bill concerns. She was willing to sell her vegetables to us and give the payment to her loan in return. Ms. Bern purchased several items and she gave an additional 10 pesos to close the payment to 50 pesos. She said she was willing to pay but because of family problems and the financial constraints it is difficult for her to payback.
Warlita will follow-up these projects when she goes to visit them later this month.
It was already dark when we bid our farewells to Pastor Amer and Marites at the church. They gave us some fruits to bring to the office and expressed their gratitude for the PSHF loan which enabled them to add a residential second floor to their church building.
Lanie De Leon
The Map of Bago city.
Bong-Bong with Crisdy and Alcris in their new clothes. The PSHF Team: Bernie, Warlita, Lester Joy and Lanie with the family.