Clemencia (53) is a banana vendor and her husband Dodoy (54) drives a ‘habal - habal’ ( motorcycle taxi). The couple have 10 children; the six oldest are married and live separately whereas the four youngest, Michael (18), Jecyl (17), Jerelyn (14) and Ray (13), live with the couple and are all in school. Venancio (83), Clemencia’s father, also lives with them.
Clemencia is originally from Mabinay, in the central part of Negros island. Her parents moved to Santa. Catalina when she was seven years old and began working on a sugar plantation. Clemencia and her siblings quickly learned about work on a hacienda and became farm labourers. In Sta. Catalina, Clemencia met Dodoy, a neighbour who was also a farm worker. Neither of them completed elementary school and at the ages of 16 and 17 respectively, they were married. In 1988, Dodoy and Clemencia became beneficiaries of the Government’s land reform programme (CARP) when they were awarded two parcels of farmland measuring five hectares in all. With a lot of their own, farming became more productive and life was certainly much easier.
In May 2009, the couple’s third youngest child, Jecyl contracted typhoid fever and was in the hospital ICU for 18 days. The costly medications and hospital fees amounted to 130,000 pesos. They borrowed money from different people, but the interest on these loans was high, and the only way to pay their debts was to have their sugarcane farm leased and pawned. A three-hectare area section was leased for 70,000 pesos and will be returned to the couple in 2019, and the remaining one and a half hectares was pawned for 60,000 pesos. Clemencia did not expect another medical crisis, but in 2012 and 2013 Dodoy suffered bleeding and had a mild stroke due to high blood pressure. Their grown up children assisted in meeting those medical expenses and Dodoy survived and recovered.
Clemencia at first was applying for a loan for banana trading capital, but when I heard about the family financial crisis I urged her to consult her husband and children. The couple then decided to apply for a loan to redeem the pawned 1.5 hectare of their sugar farm. Most of their married children are working as labourers nearby and if they can redeem the land, their children will help in the cultivation. The pawned area should produce sugar cane worth 150,000 pesos per year, and half of this, 75,000 pesos ($1,700) will be net income for the couple.
Clemencia and her family are really excited about redeeming their land and we are glad to help them. Having their land back will mean the older family members can work on the family farm during the planting and harvest seasons and continue their day jobs on neighbouring farms.
Ireen O. Ingles