Philippine Self-Help Foundation

It was a rainy day when we visited Aileen (47) in her place in the hills of Minoyan, 20 kilometres east of Bacolod, the provincial capital. She was thankful that it had rained that day; she could take a brief respite from carrying buckets of water from a spring to water her plants. She grows flowers and ornamental plants for sale and everyday she and her son Azel Jay (16) help each other look after them.  

Aileen and her family come from a place called Purok PNOC which is mainly populated by flower growers. They live in a roughly built bamboo house in this countryside purok of about two dozen houses. Her husband, Ananias Sr. (46), is a pastor whose church is literally next door. They have five children: Analeen Grace (20), Azel Jay, Ananias Jr. (14), Angeleen (10) and Aian John (6). Their house consists of a bedroom and a small place where they prepare their meals. They have electricity as well as a running water supply which comes from a spring in the hills. Aileen has two flower gardens. The one next to her house consists of several dozens potted ornamental and flowering plants. But the one on the slopes of an adjacent hill is much bigger with more or less 2,000 potted plants there.

There are many tasks involved in flower cultivation. Aside from watering, Aileen also does ‘bagging’ which involves cutting branches off the mother plants to make a new plant. She puts these cuttings in small plastic pots and after a month and a half, she transfers them into bigger plastic ones and then they are ready to be sold. Buyers come to her purok regularly to purchase plants.

Gardening takes at least six hours of work per day; four for Aileen and two for Azel Jay when he comes back from school. They have a large variety of plants, including 250 mother plants of roses, camellia, poinsettia, petunia and hanging plants; they even have strawberry plants. In a week, they can sell an average of 40 pots bringing in revenues of 2,000 pesos (US$40). Ananias, in contrast, receives 1,000 pesos in church offerings and 500 pesos as an honorarium from being the village mediator. Analeen has also found a job recently and is able to give a modest contribution to the family income. Apart from Analeen, all four children attend school.

To supplement current revenues, Aileen would like to have a running water supply for her garden on the hill. This would facilitate her day-to-day activity, increase the productivity of her garden and provide her with more time to grow new plants. As she does not have the necessary funds to buy materials and to put up this system, she was glad when she heard about the PSHF from a friend. To fulfil her needs, she is applying for a loan of 10,000 pesos.

Sebastien Aymon
PSHF Negros Occidental-South
                                       March 2017