Robert and Malyn both in their early 30s) live with their four children; Malbert (13), Jelian (11), Angelmae (10) and four year old Romalyn in the farming barangay of Sto. Niño, Tanjay City. They reside contentedly in a simple one-roomed native abode furnished with a dining table, two wooden benches and a kerosene lamp. There is a deep well within a few meters of their abode where they can obtain water. At night, the table and benches are moved to the corner of the room to enable mats to be placed on the ground for the family members to sleep on. Both Malyn and Robert work as farm laborers each earning 150 pesos ($3) a day. On weekends, the couple work on their own one hectare farm while their children play nearby. What makes Malyn and Robert really happy is to see their children healthy, and to know that they can provide them with meals three times a day.
We came to know Malyn and Robert in 2018 when they were first assisted with a loan to plant peanuts and corn. In 2019, they received a loan for sugarcane cultivation; both loans were fully repaid. In May of this year, the couple harvested their sugarcane and made a net income of 50,000 pesos ($1,000). Regrettably, Robert had an unexplained illness the following month and most of this income went to paying for a 5 day hospital stay. With no proper diagnosis and the costs mounting, he decided to discharge himself and recuperate at home. It took a month for the throbbing of his throat to subside and for his appetite to return.
Since the couple were not able to set aside funds from their recent harvest, Robert and Malyn have applied for another loan with us to fund their next planting. The loan proceeds will be used to buy 15 sacks of fertiliser and to hire workers to help with weeding and fertiliser application. The couple hope to harvest 10 sacks of corn cobs every six months for home consumption and to harvest 100,000 pesos’ worth of sugarcane a year giving them a net income of 40,000 pesos ($800).
Both Malyn and Robert are grateful for the farming assistance we have extended to them over the past two years as these loans have enabled them to realize the potential of their farm. In the past, the couple were dependent on their wages from weeding. In fact, during the rainy season, on days when it was impossible to work, the couple sometimes had to borrow money to buy food. Ever since they began to intercrop corn with sugarcane, they have had a sufficient supply of corn. Corn when milled is what we call rice corn and it is a staple food of the farmers.
Robert and Malyn are excited about the prospects for their farming and very grateful for the loan. They are hoping to start saving to buy a carabao (water buffalo) which will enable them to plough their own land and rent out their ploughing services to other farmers.
Ireen Ingles and Winelin De La Cruz
PSHF Negros Oriental