Philippine Self-Help Foundation

The Sitio of Halas in barangay Cambagahan is a new area of activity for PSHF. On the 17th of December, I (Ireen) together with Winelin, our field worker and Nikki, a researcher went to the place to interview some farming loan applicants. It was a four hour journey to get there from Dumaguete city with a long walk at the end to reach the barangay secretary’s home where we would be conducting the interviews.

The four applicants - Christian, Joven, Juanito, and Roldan were waiting for us when we arrived in the early afternoon. After a few preliminary questions, I decided to have them form a group as they were all applicants for sugarcane fertiliser and I named the group RJ2C after their first name initials. 

The youngest in the group is Christian; he is single whereas the other three are married. All of them are farm labourers earning 200 pesos (¥470) a day and they each have more or less one hectare of land planted with sugarcane. Each member is applying for a loan of 20,000 pesos to buy seven (7) sacks of fertiliser at 3,000 pesos per sack. Having their sugarcane sprayed with fertiliser can make a very big difference in the eventual outcome of their crop. The four individuals in the group spoke of having a gross income from their last harvest of 70,000 pesos when they did not use fertiliser. They estimate that their gross income could reach 120,000 pesos with the application of fertiliser in the early growth period. After the deduction of expenses, each of them can potentially have a net income of 80,000 pesos (¥190,000) from their harvest a year from now.

After discussing the business aspects of their loan application, I asked them to tell me about their lives and what have been the highs and lows. Roldan in particular struck a cord when he told us of the tragedy of losing his two year old son in 2019; he fell into an unfinished septic tank and died of sepsis. Roldan spoke with pride of his other children’s achievements - all three are schooling which is rare in poor farming families in the province as children are often called to work in the fields to help support their families. Roldan’s 19 year old firstborn is a 1st-year college student in a Hotel and Restaurant course, while the other two, Julia (17) and Joemarie (10), are respectively in high school and elementary school.

When I asked each member about their dreams in life, their reply was for good health for their loved ones and themselves so that they could continue to work and provide for their dependents. Juanito and Joven have grandchildren to mentor about the importance of going to school and Christian has a senior citizen mother who is his inspiration to do well.

Ireen Ingles

PSHF Negros Oriental

December 2022