“Isda, isda!” (Fresh fish, fresh fish!), shouts Eliezer (33) as he goes around selling fish on his motorcycle. He is a resident of the fishing village of Calaogao in southern Negros Occidental, 125 kilometres from Bacolod, the provincial capital. He is married to Leah Mae (32) and they have two daughters: Eliezah Mae (7) and Elaine Marie (6). They are in grade three and grade one respectively in the nearby elementary school. The family lives in a roughly built and palmed-roof house akin to a dozen or so similar houses in that community.
More popularly known as Junjun, Eliezer used to work in a furniture shop as a painter. However last year, he was frequently bothered by stomach pains, and so went to a doctor. He was diagnosed with stomach ulcer which had probably been caused by his frequent inhalation of harmful fumes while painting. He quit his painting job and in September last year, he began selling fish. He got a motorcycle on an instalment plan for this purpose.
Junjun usually leaves his house at five o’clock in the morning to buy fish, either from the fishermen in his village or in Lina-on, the next barangay which is about five kilometres from home. His working capital is 2,000 pesos which, on the average, can buy him 25 to 30 kilos of fish. Quite frequently he sells in the morning and in the afternoon and makes a weekly net income of 2,500 pesos ($50) a week.
At present Junjun puts his bucket of fish on his motorcycle, leaving just enough space for his wife Leah Mae to sit on. She goes with him on his selling trips as she is the one who carries the weighing scale and keeps the sales money. The bucket is heavy and can weigh 40 to 50 kilos because it contains not just fish but ice as well. Due to the heavy weight, Junjun can lose his balance and even fall over. This frequently happens in Narra village where the road is uneven. He is keen to have a sidecar for his motorcycle but he cannot afford one because his present income is just enough to meet his family’s living expenses and for his motorcycle’s monthly instalment.
Junjun has applied for a loan of 20,000 pesos from the PSHF in order to buy a sidecar worth 18,000 pesos. He will use the balance of the loan to renew his driver’s license. Junjun is quite happy with his fish peddling job; the earnings enable him to support his family and he gets to meet different kinds of people. He is a hardworking man and his wife Leah Mae is supportive of him. They do not aim to become rich; all they want is to have a measure of self sufficiency and to be able to see their children through school. They are counting on the PSHF to help them acquire this much needed sidecar.
Bernadette G. Togado
PSHF Negros Occidental