He was a fisherman who earns as much as 200 to 300 pesos a day.   He would refer to these times as a jackpot. More than often, however, he would go home with nothing even though he had already spent several hours at sea.  During these times, he would worry how to support his family’s basic needs and his children’s education.

Edy Demesa, a resident of Agdangan in Quezon Province owe every penny they have to the sea. Lala, his wife, has no job and simply takes care of their children at home. He has a small motor boat and five fish nets, his tools to bring income to the family.

For years, he wakes up early in the morning and would try his luck in the sea. However, one great decision has turned the tides for his family. From being a small-scale fisherman, Edy has managed to acquire his own place in the market, a tricycle, two motor boats, four units of fish traps or baklad and fish nets of different sizes.

It started in 2009 when he decided to join the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K), now Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that provides capital seed assistance and capability training to qualified groups for their micro-enterprise ventures. Edy was granted a loan of Php5,000.00 and that was the start of the change he has long been dreaming of for his family

 

Start of something big

From his old fish nets, Edy could only catch small fishes, which are usually sold cheaply in the market. But with his loan, he purchased fish nets with different hole sizes. With such investment, he was able to catch other kinds of fish and increase the volume of his daily catch.

“Nagkatrabaho na rin po yung asawa ko. Kumuha na rin kami ng pwesto sa palengke para itinda ang aming mga huli. Sa palengke, mas mahal ang bentahan ng mga isda kaysa doon sa mga bumibili sa tabing-dagat. Nakapagbebenta na rin kami ng huling isda ng ibang mga mangingisda dito”  he shared.

The increase in his family’s income gave Edy hope that their life can be a lot better, so he did not stop dreaming. He wanted to invest on motor boats and fishing traps or baklad but the increase in their income cannot still afford such investments.  But somehow he knew, things would still get better through hard work.

 

Continuing to something even bigger

Soon enough, their SEA-K Association became a beneficiary of the Level 2 implementation of the SLP.  Edy was elected president of the Agdangan SEA-KABAYAN Incorporated, which includes three SEA-K associations in the locality.  Their SEA-KABAYAN was granted Php4,010,000.00 capital for Micro Enterprise Expansion Program and funds for the Basic Shelter Construction and Home Improvement Program. The 72 members including Edy received Php90,000 each for the expansion of their livelihood and construction or improvement of their shelter.

Their receipt of a new capital assistance marked the start of their relending scheme to help improve their members income.  The lending business allows members, who cannot qualify for loans from big lending groups, to loan money with small interest. Through this project, he was able to learn how to budget, save, give importance to obligations and privileges and manage time wisely. He was able to encourage his members to take an active participation in development-oriented activities of the community like farming and conservation of the environment especially the bodies of water where they get most of their livelihood from.

With what Edy learned in managing his finances, he ensured the Level 2 assistance he received will be wisely used.

“Yung P20,000 po ay binili ko ng isa pang motor boat, apat na baklad at iba’t-ibang klase ng lambat,” he said.

He was also able to purchase a tricycle that he uses to expand the reach of his business. He is now engaging in fish-trading where he uses his tricycle for delivery to nearby areas of Lucena City and Atimonan. When he has no delivery schedules, he drives his tricycle for additional income.

The Php70,000, on the other hand, was used for the renovation of their house. Now, his home has sufficient bedrooms for him and his wife, two sons and daughter, and has a bathroom, terrace, dining area and dirty kitchen.

“Malaking tulong talaga yung dagdag na capital, malaking pagbabago ito sa buhay namin,” he shared.

Through the years of managing his business and getting a hang of the trade, his business grew even bigger. With pride, Edy shared that they earn enough today to answer the needs of his family and to pay off his loan from the program. He is also happy that he can send all his children to school without a problem now.

More than the growth of his business, Edy has grown to be a good leader. His being president of the SEA-KABAYAN Association has honed his leadership skills and earned him the trust of other people. Now, he is a barangay councilor, president of the PTA and chairman of the POC Agricultural Committee.

 

Giving back to the community

Edy is all praises and thanks to the DSWD and the SLP for the transformation of their lives starting from the Php5,000 capital assistance provided to them in 2009. For him, paying off his loans to the government is not the end of his responsibility. Hence, he continues to support other programs of the Department such as the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan—Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

Kalahi-CIDSS is another core social protection program of the DSWD alongside SLP and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program that aims to reduce poverty, improve local governance and empower people through implementing infrastructure and community projects that address the community’s most pressing needs.

Through the program, Edy’s barangay (Brgy. Kanluran Canluran) was granted Php2.1M for the construction of a pump-driven level II water system. According to Edy, it is long been the need of the community to have a proximate and constant water source.  He also thinks the livelihood programs for the residents should be continuously provided.

“Kung mabibigyan kami ng pagkakataon, maganda po sanang makapagsimula ng livelihood projects para sa mga kababaihan dito. Mga isda ang produkto dito, siguro ay pagdadaing, pagtutuyo o pagtitinapa ang magandang pasukin ng mga tao dito o kaya ay paggawa ng bunot o basket,” he concluded.

At this point in his life, Edy does not think of himself or his family alone. Honed as a leader and a successful entrepreneur now, he thinks of the welfare of other members of their community so they can have an improved quality of life just like what his family is having today.

 

 

Source: DSWD Field Office CALABARZON