It is a week or so before Christmas. Rafael Lontes (63) and his wife Lea (64) are at work, putting peanut candy squares into small plastic bags. They have received orders for 130 packs of ‘bandi’ or peanut candies and they are busy packing them. Terry, a relative, is sitting by a firewood stove, mixing sugar and peanuts together. A quarter of an hour later, the two ingredients have become a nice caramel mixture and Terry is pouring it onto a wooden board. Rafael lets it cool down to solidify it a bit before transferring it to a worktable. He then gets out a long knife and adeptly slices the caramel ‘slabs’ into one-inch squares. He and Lea then insert these into plastic bags, 25 pieces per bag. It’s a whole day’s work and they do this twice a week.
Aside from the ‘bandi’, the couple also make salted peanuts and peanut butter (though on a limited scale) for sale. Their second eldest son, Jose Tiny (pronounced ‘teeny’) who lives with them, is the one who delivers their delicacies to market vendors in the adjacent towns of Hinobaan and Cauayan. These peanut delicacies give the family an income of 8,000 pesos ($160) a month which allows them a measure of self-sufficiency. Their four children have all married and live with their own families in other parts of Negros Occidental, except the eldest Tomas who lives with his family in Manila.
Rafael and Lea do not have a sufficient capital for their business and so they buy peanuts and sugar on an ‘alzada’ basis, that is, they get the goods today and pay the seller after they have sold their products. There have however been a few occasions when their ‘suki’ or trusted seller ran out of peanuts and so they were not able to make their delicacies.
Rafael is applying for a loan from the PSHF to give him sufficient working capital to make cash purchases for his peanuts and thus avail of discounts for bulk purchases. He will use the loan to purchase two sacks of peanuts worth 8,800 pesos. The rest of the loan - 1,200 pesos, will be used to have a wooden worktable made. At present they are using their dining room table to do their packing. Rafael has had two loans from the PSHF - in 2007 for capital to trade charcoal and rice, and in 2010 to expand the scale of his peanut business. Both loans were fully paid back on time. The charcoal and the rice trading business still exist but they are temporarily taking a back seat as Lea and Rafael are prioritising their peanut based products because there is a big demand for them now. He and Lea are grateful for this loan assistance from the PSHF.
Bernadette G. Togado
PSHF Negros Occidental-South