Guillerma Batomalaque (57), was a member of the GLLEM (derived from the initials of the members) group that received a loan (fully repaid) in December 2019 for the purchase of the plots on which their houses stood. She has been a solo parent ever since her husband, Isaac (45) died as a result of high blood pressure in 2009. In order to support her six children, now all grown-up, she had to have two jobs; she went to banana farms to buy bananas to sell to a roadside buyer and she also weaved nipa palm to make mats for roofing. Regrettably, her older children quit school in their mid teens to work on sugarcane farms to earn money to support the family. Angelica (22), The youngest and only unmarried child has however reached her 3rd year of college; she is studying for a in BS degree in Education. Angelica lives at home with her mother and a niece Christine aged 12, one of Guillerma’s grandchildren.
Over the last few years, Guillerma has become more of a trader in bananas; she has her spot on the roadside and waits for banana sellers to drop off their produce; she pays the sellers right there and then. Twice a week she sells her sacks of bananas to a comprador (a middle man) who comes with a big truck to transport her bananas and those of other traders to Dumaguete City or the neighboring Cebu island. Aside from her banana trading, Guillerma continues with her nipa palm weaving. She has a combined monthly income of 4,000 pesos ($80) from trading bananas and selling the nipa roofing mats she weaves. She also gets some income from gathering seaweed and shells from the seashore which she sells to a buyer in the market.
For now, Guillerma’s earnings are just about adequate to meet hers and her dependents basic needs, especially as her daughter and granddaughter are doing modular learning due to the pandemic and thus there is no need to give them money for fares and projects. However, Guillerma is keen to have another source of income to enable her to save up for Angelica’s final year in college which will begin in August 2022. Guillerma would like to lease a two hectare farm and is applying for a loan for this purpose. The farm, comprising 20 coconut trees belongs to a relative of her deceased husband who is no longer living in Sta. Catalina. Guillerma is keen have the land planted with corn and banana shoots as well as vegetables such as beans, pumpkin and okra.
For this venture, Guillerma will be assisted by all her children with the men doing the ploughing with a carabao (water buffalo) and setting up the rows and the women taking charge of the planting. There will be plots for bananas and corn and alongside the plots, peanuts, beans, and pumpkin will be planted. It will take a year for the bananas shoots to bear fruit but for the other crops, thrice yearly harvests can be anticipated. Guillerma is hoping to have an increase in net income of 2,000 pesos ($40) a month once she starts selling the produce of her farm.
I ended my interview with Guillerma by asking her what her greatest achievement in life had been so far. She replied that supporting Angelica through to college had been a great source of satisfaction to her; she was the only one in the family ever to reach college. She looks forward to attending Angelica’s graduation and to seeing her work as a teacher in their town. We at the PSHF are delighted to help a devoted mother like Guillerma and we wish her every success in her new farming venture.
Ireen O. Ingles
PSHF Negros Oriental