Ninita Sejo (51) is a salt vendor. Every Sunday morning, for the past seven years, she has been selling salt from a small stall in the village market of Omiles, about eight kilometres away from home. She can sell one sackful of salt (47 kilograms) by the early afternoon. She sells by the ganta, a unit of measurement which is equal to two and a quarter kilos. A recycled soy sauce jar serves as her measuring instrument.
At this time of the year, it is the rainy season in the province of Cauayan and prices of salt are increasing. Ninita is keen to buy supplies of salt now at the current price of 300 pesos per sack. She is applying for a loan to enable her to buy six sacks of salt. She will sell this amount over the next six weeks and be assured of making a profit of 225 pesos ($5) every Sunday morning. Ninita buys her salt from a producer who lives in her neighbourhood. On Sundays, Ambrosio helps her load her salt onto a tricycle which takes her all the way to Omiles. She enjoys her job because it gives her a chance to meet other people as well as chat with her ‘suki’ or regular customers.
Ninita and her family live in an old bamboo house on a hill in Calaogao in the rural town of Cauayan in southern Negros Occidental. They live near the village elementary school. Ambrosio (52, her husband, is a sugarcane plantation worker earning 250 pesos per day. His job comprises ploughing and in the harvest season, the cutting and loading of sugarcane onto a lorry. Also living with the couple are their daughter Gene Rose (25) and her two-year-old son Keith, as well as Rose Shane (14), a granddaughter, the child of their daughter Janette who tragically died from pneumonia in 2006.
Bernadette G. Togado
PSHF Negros Occidental-South