FO VIIINelly Onting’s life story progresses from the typical “rags to riches” type commonly found in fantasy books. When one listens to her narration, one could hardly believe it could happen in the real world. Hard work, perseverance, and determination were Nelly’s magic words of triumph. It all begun with a small scrap trading that eventually grew to multiple businesses.

In the flourishing town of Calbiga in Samar province. Nelly, 37, is one of the successful entrepreneurs who made good use of the loan assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), under the Self – Employment Assistance Kaunlaran (SEA – K) Program, now elevated to become the so –called Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). She is one of the most active members of the Polangi Vendors Association, which joined forces with the Calbiga SEA – Kaunlaran Association, to become the Calbiga Kabuhayan SEA Kabayan, Incorporated (CKSKI). The bigger group belongs to the SEA-K level II, whereby each member can avail Php10, 000.00 (now (Php20,000.00) non – collateral and interest – free loan.

The municipality is home to two SEA – KABAYANs, the other is Angat Kabuhayan SEA – Kabayan, Inc., which has on its hand five SEA – K associations that have successfully graduated from level 1. The said KABAYAN won in year 2012 as the Model SEA-Kabayan or SEA-K Level II category, under the DSWD’s yearly PANATA KO SA BAYAN Awards.

Perhaps, the entrepreneurial blood lies in almost every “Calbiganon.” With the opportunity given to them, the likes of Nelly worked it out to make it big. She has a tough partner, husband Joel Onting, 39, and three wonderful children. Together, they helped make it grow!

They gave a small starting capital to their men, and at the end of the week, these people would pay them. At first, they concentrated the scrap business at Barangay Polangi which is located along the highway. Now, they scattered towards nearby towns!

Every afternoon, their workers deliver the pieces of junk at their junkyard. At its lowest, the Onting family collects some 200 kilos in a day; at its highest, 500 kilos.

Nelly reveals their buying price for each kind of scrap material per kilo : tin – Php3.00; iron – Php10.00; plastic – Php10.00; steel – Php10.00; and copper – Php200.00.

What the family collects in a week are then brought to Tacloban City by the truckload. Nelly has a truck of their own, through all the years of laboring in this filthy but money – making venture. For tin, the Ontings get Php5.00 per kilo, iron and steel at Php12.00, plastic at Php12.00’ and copper at Php240.00 per kilo !

Delivery is made once to thrice a week, depending on the volume of wastes they have in their disposition, so the budding entrepreneur reveals. The family has also a multicab, an addition to the truck they use for transporting junk to the city.

It is heartwarming to know that even their daughter engrosses herself at the junkyard, and even spends overtime work till eight o’clock in the evening. Today, the labor force at their junkyard adds to a total of four, excluding the family members.

However, what keeps them currently busy are not solely on the scrap, for they also entered into the vehicles-for-hire thing. Aside from the single passenger motorcycle that traverses through the countryside, there’s the motorcycle with side car that is made available for hire.

Wednesdays and Saturdays are market days in the remote barangays, such that the Elf truck, multicab, and motorcycle with side car earn the most in this period. A minimum income of Php1,000.00 is what they get for the said business, come the day for farmers to bring in their produce.

The newest thing they have kept them on their feet is the ground coco shell trade. The coconut by-product, which is made as fuel for stone ovens or “pugons” in big bakeries, has a big market in Manila. Hence, tons and tons of the recycled coconut, are brought via a ten-wheeler truck they hire, to the metropolis.

At the most, the Ontings sell a bounty of 20 tons in one delivery. The family, then, gets a return of Php80,000.00!

To date, they have their own big grinder for the business, in order to make it more cost effective and easier.

Nelly’s family has earned now a high respect and regard from the community. Besides, the Ontings have learned to reach out their hands what is good for their locality.

They have developed a sense of belongingness and civic-mindedness. Indeed, the SEA-K program can turn one “Cinderella” into a princess! However, the transformation could not be done overnight, but over years of hard toil.