Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Ellieneth with sons Jaymar and Junel

It was quite a trek reaching the home of Ellieneth to interview her about her loan application to buy a carabao. I was with Ireen, our interim coordinator for the province as well as Winelin, our field worker and her husband Chris. The journey comprised a motorcycle ride and a half hour walk along a track with hills stretching far into the distance on either side. Ellieneth gave us a warm welcome and we sat down on an improvised bench outside her native abode. Two of her four children, Jamrey (15) and Jonel (8) were at home whereas her eldest son Junrel (17) was out with his father, Teodennis on the farm. Marie (12), the couple’s daughter lives with Teodennis’ parents on the island of Leyte.

I asked Ellieneth to tell me about her life and Ireen interpreted for me. She grew up in the immediate area of her present home. At the age of 24, she went to Manila, as do so many young women from the countryside, to work as a baby sitter. She was fortunate to be employed by the Verchez family who were kind to her and she worked with them for 20 years. She met Teodennis in 1996; he was working as a construction worker in the vicinity of the Garcia family home.

In 2006, Teodennis lost his job so he and Ellieneth and their three children at the time decided to relocate to Santa Catalina where they stayed in her parents’ home. This was to be the beginning of the unhappiest chapter in her life. There was tension between her mother and her husband and six months after moving from Manila, the family moved out. Teodennis built a small nipa house in the hills not far from their present home and began farming. The first harvests were poor and the family struggled to find enough to eat. Ellenith recalls Teodennis being given a job by a neighbour to make charcoal and with the proceeds, he brought home five kilos of rice. Little by little, the family’s circumstances improved and most recently they were able to lease an additional hectare of farm land on a five year lease.

Ellieneth is applying for a loan to enable her and Teodennis to purchase a carabao to plough their newly acquired land. They expect it will take a couple of months to prepare the land for the planting of mongo beans and peanuts. The land is on a steep slope stretching down from the family’s abode. The couple plan to plant 10 kilos of mongo seeds and 30 kilos of peanuts which will result in a harvest of 100 kilos of mongo beans and 300 kilos of peanuts after three months. Both peanuts and mongo beans currently sell for 35 pesos per kilo so the Batistil couple can expect a gross income of at least 14,000 pesos ($320) twice a year.

Richard Foster

PSHF Negros Oriental

February 2015