One fateful day in July 1994, Felicidad eldest son, John Ray (then 9 years old) was accidentally pierced in the eye by a sharp piece of wood during a school tree planting activity. She and her husband Bernardino desperately needed funds to pay for John Rayʼs surgery and hospital stay so they pawned their rice plot and coconut farm. Thankfully, John Ray made a full recovery and the couple were able to redeem their full property from their sales of crops and livestock within four years.
Felicidad and Bernardino are both in their early 50’s. Besides John Ray (now 29), they have three younger children, Joseph, Jerome and Bernardino Jr., all in their 20’s. Joseph is married and is living in Cebu, whilst the other three live with the couple. John Rayʼs son John Michael (7) is also part of the family, for his mother tragically died when giving birth to him. John Ray and Jerome work as construction laborers and during the planting season they help their parents with rice cultivation.
Bernardino Jr. is the only family member to have reached college; he is currently in his fourth year of a degree course in Electrical Technology. One of the course requirements in his first year was a one week educational tour that required students to visit big electrical and power supply companies in Luzon and Mindanao. The cost of the air fares and hotels was 19,000 pesos and Felicidad and Bernardino Sr. simply did not have such a big amount of money so they resorted to pawning their coconut farm again.
The couple is applying for a loan to regain full possession of their coconut farm. Currently, they are dividing the proceeds of copra production with the current owner but with the Duggoy family doing all the work. By redeeming the farm, the entirety of the proceeds, roughly 18,000 pesos a year will accrue to the family. The extra income is especially important to the family because Bernardino Jr. will soon be starting a six month OJT (on the job training) at Mactan International Airport in Cebu. He will be needing funds to pay for his board and lodging and fare allowances, as well as his graduation fees, which are due in March 2015.
Felicidad and Bernardino are excited about having their coconut farm back in their hands. The production of copra is a family endeavor with all the children involved in the various processes from climbing the coconut trees to drying the kernels. We are glad that the redemption of the coconut farm will mean extra income to provide for family needs especially those pertaining to Bernardino Jr.’s final year in college.
Ireen O. Ingles
Bernardino with son, John Ray (9) and wife, Felicidad.