Nenita Mercares (58) makes a living from tending a home-front sari-sari store. She sells rice which is a staple food as well as toiletries, food items, soft drinks and rum, and until a few months ago, she sold tuba or coconut wine, delivered to her by tuba gatherers from another village. Her place was once frequented by labourers, sugarcane farm workers and fishermen who would meet after a hard day’s work to drink tuba. Unfortunately in December, the tuba gatherers stopped coming because somebody from their own village started to buy their tuba.
When her tuba customers stopped coming, Nenita’s monthly income of 4,000 pesos dropped by half. Thankfully Salvacion who is Nenita's only child from her first husband Constancio who tragically died of rabies many years ago, sends money to her mother. She entrusted her two children, Shane Anne (10) and Sharmille (8) to her mother when she left for Luzon in the northern Philippines to find work. The money that she regularly sends to her mother is for the support of her two children who are both in elementary school.
Rosalino Mercares (61) is Nenita's husband of 23 years. They are without a child. He was a fish peddler but he stopped five years ago because he had too many competitors using motorcycles whereas he went around on foot. Also he has been troubled by age-related illnesses such as arthritis and liver problems as well as stomach ulcer. He is at home most of the time, tending the sari-sari when Nenita is out.
Presently Nenita's profit from her sari sari amounts to 2,000 pesos ($40) per month which is just enough to buy food for her family. She is keen to improve her income by engaging in salt production. The owner of the fish ponds-cum-salt beds nearby has offered her a portion of his pond for salt production. (In the dry season, the fish ponds are drained of water to make way for the salt beds.) In return, he will get one-third of the proceeds from the sale of salt. Nenita will be the one to provide the polythene or the plastic for the beds. She does not have the funds to buy this and so has applied for a loan from the PSHF.
It is now the dry season in the country, hence the ideal time for salt production. Nenita is seeking a loan of 6,000 pesos which she will use to buy five rolls of polythene as well as pay for the labour cost of preparing the salt beds. She will hire a worker who will take charge of the entire salt production process. The proceeds from the sale of salt will be divided equally between the pond owner, the salt bed worker and Nenita. Each of them should get an average of 1,000 pesos per week from sales. This will be a big improvement in Nenita’s income and she is grateful to the PSHF for this much needed loan assistance.
Bernadette G. Togado
PSHF Negros Occidental-South