Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Genoveva and Teody were workers in a clothing factory on the island of Cebu in the mid 1980s. When it closed down, they decided to relocate to Genoveva’s hometown in Santa Catalina on Negros island. With their meagre savings, they rented a room to offer sewing services in the centre of this sleepy rural town. They also built for themselves a narrow dirt-floored bamboo shack next to Genoveva’s sister’s house. 

As they did not have the funds to buy sewing machines, they rented two units at 150 pesos each per month. However the owner of one of the machines would sometimes borrow back the machine thus disrupting the couple’s work. Genoveva happened to hear about the PSHF from her sister Susan, who was a loan recipient with us. She and Teody applied for and subsequently received a loan of 8,000 pesos from the PSHF in 2002. The loan enabled them to buy a treadle sewing machine which had the capacity to do several kinds of stitches. They fully paid back the loan on time. The following year, they received a second loan (15,000 pesos) to buy a high speed sewing machine. By this time, they were starting to become popular and so they were getting orders for sports uniforms. To cope with the increasing orders, they needed a high speed sewing machine. Like their first loan, this too was fully paid back on time. Their third loan (20,000 pesos) was for an edging machine which enabled them to produce better quality clothing as well as save on sewing time. Their fourth and final loan was for an embroidery machine which made it easier and quicker for them to place numbers, badges and other decorations on athletic uniforms. 

Teody and Genoveva are in their late 50s now and they were able to send all their four children through college with their income from sewing. When they started, they did everything, from cutting, designing and sewing. But now they have four staff to help them with their work, although Teody still does the cutting. They had their share of hardships but their industry and the assistance from the PSHF made their living conditions much better. They now live at the back of their sewing shop and experience a degree of comfort and self-sufficiency.

Bernadette G. Togado

February 2017