Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Alexander (48) and Marta (50)  are the caretakers of two hectares of land owned by the Cadungog family who reside in Dumaguete, the provincial capital. The land is planted with sugarcane and coconut trees and the couple’s role is mainly to keep the land free of weeds. In return, they live in a native style dwelling on the land itself rent free and receive 130 pesos ($2.60) a day in wages each.

The couple have seven children with just their two youngest Jessa (15) and Reymark (12) living with them. Alexander and Marta regret the departure of their other children as they all stopped their schooling prematurely to marry young and become farm labourers just like them. They are hopeful that Jessa and Reymark will complete high school and maybe even go to college one day. 

Alexander and Marta along with eight others attended our PSHF orientation in March. Their friend, Antonio, one of our earliest loan recipients in the area had convinced them that it would be worthwhile to take a day off from work to attend. During the orientation, the couple looked at each other anxiously when they heard that they would have to submit a loan application form as they are both illiterate. Unable to read what was written on the form, Alexander approached me (Winelin) to ask if I would help him. I was happy to oblige so I read out the questions and wrote down his answers on the form.

The couple are applying for a loan to lease a one hectare plot belonging to a sibling of Alexander’s employer. The term will be five years and they plan to plant peanuts and corn. When it comes to ploughing, Alexander has a few farmer friends who would be willing to let him borrow a carabao (water buffalo) when they are not using theirs. They will plant corn intercropped with peanuts thus reducing the need for fertilizer as peanuts give nitrogen to the soil.

Peanuts and corn have two planting seasons and are harvested at different times of the year. The couple plan to keep their corn harvests for home consumption and sell their peanuts at 800 pesos per sack. They hope to harvest an average of 10 sacks per harvest and thus have a gross income of 8,000 pesos ($160) every six months. For the Omoyon couple, this will be the first time that they will have such a significant amount in farming proceeds and be self sufficient in corn.

Alexander and Marta are excited about the prospects for their leased land. They are hoping to set aside some of their crop proceeds for a down payment on a nearby 200 square meter plot of land being offered for 30,000 pesos. They are excited at the prospect of having a place that they can call their own. If there comes a time when their landlord asks them to leave the land they currently occupy, they will have a place to relocate to. Both Alexander and Marta are looking forward to the approval of this loan.

Winelin De La Cruz and Ireen Ingles

PSHF Negros Oriental

April 2020