Pudtol, Apayao- In unity there is strength. This is a quotation which has been proven many times, from the liberation of a country to the fall of an empire. This can also be exemplified in the Province of Apayao which is a province rich in culture and natural resources but is burdened with one of the deadliest battles of this era –POVERTY.
While some are comfortably resting in their sofas, drinking cups of expensive coffee, or bragging about their expensive watch, there are people who sit on the ground, who could not gamble their time to rest just to eat three times a day, or those whose only way of knowing time is by the movement of the sun. Some families in Apayao experience the latter.
The Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program members in Pudtol, Apayao realized the importance of having a sustainable livelihood project that someday can help increase their income and directly help them to meet their basic needs. In 2014, 387 individuals from these Pantawid families formed a federation known as Sustainable Livelihood Program Federation (SLP Federation). The Federation came up with a proposal to establish a Grocery Store and Agricultural Farm Supply. And this was made possible with the assistance of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). “Noong una, nag decide kami na mag buo ng federation para makatulong sa monitoring ng SLP projects na individually managed kasi that time, wala kaming Project Development Officer”, SLP Federation President Susan Cabusi shared.
However, the group noticed the high demand for grocery and agricultural farm supply in the area especially during pay-outs. With that, the federation came to the idea of setting up a Grocery and Agricultural Farm Supply Store. “Ang main purpose po talaga kung bakit kami nag-decide na magkaroon ng grocery store ay dahil nakita naming na instead of private merchandisers and makinabang sa pera ng Pantawid beneficiaries, pwede naming Pantawid uli ang makinabang doon at para magkaroon ng mas magaan-gaan na bilihan ang mga Pantawid [Pamilya] households kaya mababa rin yung markup namin sa mga bilihin dito”, Susan added.
Mini steps to make the dream to reality
The SLP Federation aimed to reduce the number of individuals caught in the poverty line by creating sustainable livelihood using their group fund. This group fund came from the P500.00 capital share, P20.00 membership fee and P20.00 annual due.
On 25 July 2016, the Federation is able to open the Grocery and Agricultural Farm Supply Store. With the initial capital share of 193,660.00, the store is now established near the Municipal Capitol of Pudtol. The grocery sells frozen foods, grocery products, agricultural supplies and SLP products. Aside from the low markup, customers of the store are given additional discounts and patronage refund. “After two years of operations po, lahat ng Pantawid members ay magkakaroon ng patronage refund. Yung mga hindi naman po Pantawid members, binibigyan naman po namin sila ng discount at freebies”, Susan said.
Bigger dreams for the mini grocery
While others dream of having a six foot three gleaming red Ferrari, the SFP Federation’s dream is to have a tricycle to transport goods to barangays where trucks are unable to go. The federation also plans to construct small stores on upper barangays to sell the products from the grocery.