Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Jimwell and Mara are a young married couple living in the hillside village of Santo Niño in the central part of Negros Oriental province. The two of them first met in April 2020 when both of them worked in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental’s capital. Jimwell was a store worker in an agrivet (an agriculture and veterinarian) store and Mara was a babysitter. The two were neighbours in the rented compound where their employers resided. They were introduced to each other by co-workers and discovered they were both from the town of Tanjay. On their days off, they went out on dates together and in July 2020, they got married but continued to live with their employers.

Unfortunately, in August 2020 due to the pandemic, both Mara and Jimwell lost their jobs. The couple decided to go to Jimwell’s hometown in Barangay Sto. Niño, Tanjay City and they moved in with Jimwell’s parents and his younger siblings. It is a two-roomed native house, with one room occupied by his parents, the other small room occupied by the couple, and the two youngest siblings make do with the living room as their sleeping quarters at night. Mara and Jimwell are both farm labourers working separately on corn and sugarcane farms. Mara does weeding and planting work and Jimwell does the same except in the harvesting season when he works with a team cutting cane and loading it onto trucks. They each earn 150 pesos ($3) a day for regular work but Jimwell can earn double that when he does harvesting as wages are dependant on the tonnage of cane transported to the mill.

Mara and Jimwell are keen to do some farming for themselves and earn some extra income. Their respective parents have given them two half hectare pieces of land and the couple want to cultivate these plots with sugarcane intercropped with corn. They are applying for a loan to enable them to purchase fertilisers and rent a carabao (water buffalo) to do the ploughing. There will be no need to buy sugarcane points as they can obtain these from harvesting leftovers; as for corn seedlings, Mara’s mother will provide them from her own farm.

The couple hope to harvest around 20 sacks of corn in the coming twelve months, half of which will be retained for home consumption and the other half will be sold for 10,000 pesos ($200). As for the sugarcane, they hope to make a net income of 35,000 pesos ($700) from their first harvest a year from now and perhaps double this income in year 2 as there will be no need to plough again and the sugar content will be better in the second year.

With the proceeds of their farming, Jimwell and Mara are hoping to buy a carabao as it will be useful for their everyday farming activities and Jimwell will be able to rent out his services. The couple are really happy to be farming again and back with their own families after their one year period in Dumaguete city. They dream now of having their own dwelling and having children. We wish the couple well with their farming endeavours.

Winelin De La Cruz & Ireen Ingles,

Negros Oriental,

April, 2021