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Most Outstanding Microentrepreneur for Luzon 1
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Shirley S. Panisigan
Purok 1, Brgy. Mucdol, Dipaculao, Aurora Province
LCAP Client of Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Inc.

Shirley Panisigan hails from the Cordillera Region. She got married to Frederick Panisigan of Brgy. Bayabas, Dipaculao, Aurora.

Shirley is the fourth among the thirteen siblings. Because of the difficulties in life, she only finished Grade V. Her mother was only thirteen when she got pregnant, this is why, they were raised to live a simple life. Simple in a way that they even tried to divide a fish into three so everyone could have something to eat. 

She describes her family before as those who lacks everything in life even the basic needs. Having confronted by life's difficulties, she engaged into being a house helper at the age of 17. From being a house helper, she was able to wear clothes which she never had and have eaten foods that she never tasted before. 

When she decided to marry Frederick, they stayed with her in-laws. Frederick engaged into farming because her in-laws had an agreement with them that they will till the one hectare rice land and whenever harvest time comes, there will be a 50-50 profit sharing. Unfortunately, the sharing didn't work well which caused her frustrations and disappointments. 

Seeing that things are not going well and nothing happens to them. Shirley decided to try her luck by working abroad. Fortunately, she was able to land a job in Hong Kong. She worked there for six years as domestic helper. While abroad, she used her passport as collateral for a P60,000 loan which she sent to her husband to purchase the house and lot where they are living right now.
 
After six years, Shirley decided to return to the Philippines. She returned without much savings. When ASKI was introduced in their area, she grabbed the opportunity and joined the Alalay sa Magsasaka Program in 2009. She loaned P15,000 at first and she added additional P10,000 for the purchase of thresher. The remaining amount of her loan was used for vending business. 

Right now, she is on her 6th cycle, amounting to P100,000. She used this for the purchase of farm inputs and the other amount was used as additional fund to purchase lot. 

Shirley admitted that ASKI molded her to become who she is right now. Being the center Chief, she learned how to speak in front of her members, though at first, she really had a hard time in overcoming her fear. From 8 members in 2008, there are now 93 members in her center. This is a clear manifestation of Shirley's exceptional leadership.  

Shirley's dream was to become a teacher. But because of poverty, she was not able to achieve that dream. With her leadership and experience as the Center Chief of Brgy. Mucdol, she was able to somehow exercise her dream of becoming a teacher. She enjoys working with her members. She considered their center house as her office. She also facilitates the processing of the application forms of her members.

Amidst all these, Shirley and Frederick were not blessed to have their own child. With seriesof examinations and tests, it was found out that both of them have normal condition. In 2003, she got pregnant, but after three months, it was found out that the twin babies in her womb cannot survive due to ectopic pregnancy. She underwent an operation which resulted in the removal of her ovary.

These trials in Shirley's life motivate her to be more generous and helpful for the poor. In fact, she adopted children of any ages and supported them in their education. Shirley knew how it feels to have less in life. Thus, she made sure that all the needs of the people who asked for her were supported. She was able to send her sisters to school and are now having a good life.

When the BMZ project (a German government funded project) was introduced in their Barangay, she worked hard to ensure the success of the project in their community. She was also elected as the President of KASAMAmu or the Kabuhayang Alay sa Ating Magsasakang Mucdol, the People's Organization formed that envisions to uplift the economic condition of the farmers of their village. Currently, it has 93 members and all are clients of ASKI.

Since she is also engaged into hog raising, she is also helping her fellow hog-raisers especially those who are in need. She gives some of her hogs that are ready to conceive to her co-members and agreed for a fair sharing after a certain time.

Right now, Shirley's dream is to send her legally adopted daughter to school and be able to give her everything she needed. She does not want her to experience the life she had before.

  

Most Outstanding Microentrepreneur for Luzon II
Josefa M. Breva
Purok 3, Brgy. Libjo, Tiwi, Albay
LCAP Client of the Rural Bank of Guinobatan, Inc.

Josefa and Ricardo Breva is a couple of Tiwi, Albay, know for their good hearts for the community. Ricardo started out as a pedicab driver and Josefa as store attendant before they were able to have evolved into an enterprise because of perseverance and hard work.

Josefa M. Breva hailed from Maasin City in Iloilo, while Ricardo Breva is a native of Libjo, Tiwi, Albay. Josefa is the 6th child in a family of 10. Early on in her life, "Aling Ipang" as she was more affectionately called has been exposed to the hard realities of life. The limited opportunity did not allow her to study college.

At the age of 20, Josefa married Ricardo and became a mother of four. Ricardo droves a pedicab and rented out tricycle, while Josefa was a store attendant at the local grocery. To supplement their meager earnings, Ricardo's aunt offered the couple the chance to run a sari-sari store by lending them P40,000.

With a starting operating capital of P40,000, the couple rented a space in the public market and started a sari-sari store managed by Josefa. Aside from doing the household chores, Josefa supervised the repacking of items and manned the store. It was in 2005, when Josefa first availed of loan worth P30,000 from Rural Bank of Guinobatan, Inc. (RBGI) - Tiwi Branch. Through RBGI financing, the Breva family ventured into hog raising managed by Ricardo. 

The couple's perseverance and passion for what they do paid off. Not long after, they acquired the space next to their spot in the market. Their store had become widely known due to the stable prices of the merchandise and good relations to their customers. Apart from their mini grocery, hog raising, spouses Breva diversified their business and ventured also into rice trading. Josefa and Ricardo has also acquired a lot and decided to build their own house and they were able to buy jeepney to deliver their merchandise to different barangays of Tiwi and Malinao, Albay before the year ended. 

Time management worked well in theri favour. Their four children took part also in running their family businesses. Because of their businesses, they managed to send their children to college and are now professionals. 

Indeed from P40,000 and P100,000 loan from RGBI, the Breva family was able to purchase tricycle, passenger jeepney, motorcycles, multicab, residential lot in Barangay Libjo in Tiwi, Albay worth P430,000, and another residential lot in Barangay Cararayan worth 1.2 million pesos. Josefa quipped, "I could not believe that for P40,000 as business capital and P100,000 loan from RGBI, we were able to build our dream house worth more than a million pesos."

Because of their growing businesses, eight workers were hired to help out in their ventures. These eight workers have nothing but kind words Josefa and Ricardo. They are accorded Philhealth and SSS benefits on top of their salaries. 

Despite the challenges that they encountered, Josefa and Ricardo never thought of giving up. They saw challenges as opportunities to improve and expand their business. Mr. and Mrs. Breva say that they are blessed to have survived these challenges and are thankful that they are now beginning to make a mark in the industry. 

The Breva couple share that making their business as a way of life, and cultivating a good relationship with the customers are the main factors that contributed to their success. In fact, Josefa and Ricardo were even encouraged to run for public office, but they declined saying that generating employment in their barangay was enough for them.   


Most Outstanding Microentrepreneur for Visayas and National Winner Microentrepreneur Category
John F. Cabillon
Brgy. Gogo, Estancia, Iloilo
LCAP Client of the Valiant Rural Bank (Iloilo City), Inc.

The Cabillons (John who is a hunchback, and Rosma, 23 years old at that time) were married way back in 2004. They started a family armed with true love for each other and sheer determination to live together faithfully. Living in a dilapidated hut without electricity, the couple sweetened their days by starting a yemma and polvoron business. On the side they tended a piglet given as a token by their parents. When the hog was sold, they used the proceeds to acquire electricity for their home. Another side-step was taken in order to supplement the family income - they ventured in buy and sell of used bottles. They were also able to acquire a second-hand motorcycle which John used for "single pasada" to further supplement their income.

Early in their married life they have been "Death Commissioners." There used to be a time when the Cabillon's especially Mrs. Rosma was on constant watch for the dying and waiting for eventual death in the neighborhood, as they are sure to be a P1,000 richer if they are able to arrange for funeral service with a local funeral parlor. This may be considered odd by many, but for them, this is not something to be ashamed of, for this is honest livelihood. Death does not come often though.

John realized that this physical disability became a hindrance as he tried to apply for employment and was repeatedly rejected due to this. Rosma, on the other hand, tried mainstream employment as tax collector at the feeder port. However, on her first week of work she was fired for simply failing to greet the wife of a local leader. It was John who lifted her spirit to persist against fate's mischief. The couple agreed to concentrate on having one more vehicle and explore other business possibilities. Having no capital they approached Valiant Bank out of curiosity for the services if this new bank at that time. Their loan application of P20,000 was approved using NLDC fund. From the loan proceeds they bought another secondhand motorcycle as they started a vehicle for hire business. Another part of the loan proceeds was used as starting capital for a squid business, taking over the trade from John's father-in-law who declared himself bankrupt. Thus, the infusion of P10,000 was considered as a saving grace by the laborers threatened by loss of job. As they took over the business, they were able to make the business profitable in less than 6 months. They were consistent in their loan repayment that when they applied for a re-loan, they were readily accommodated. They purchased another vehicle for their motorcycle for hire venture and the squid business was expanded.

As their business grew, relatives started coming over asking for favors. One favor was in the form of a motorcycle loan in Rosma's name but to be used by a relative. Unfortunately, the motorcycle was stolen and the relative refused to pay the amortization. An "Estafa" case was filed against Rosma and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Rosma initially thought of running away by going abroad. But her sense of righteousness prevailed. She went to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but not to run away. She worked as a domestic helper and sent all her salary home to pay for the stolen motorcycle. John on the other hand had better ideas. He first invested the money as additional capital in their squid business and out of the profits came the funds for payment to the lost motorcycle. As soon as this problem was settled, she came back home. They said that looking back, the lessons they learned about the pains they left in their act of giving became their baptism.

John and Rosma realized that carrying the burden with their neighbors significantly lightens the load. Instead of fighting life's harshness by struggling among themselves they adapted the philosophy of selflessly sharing abundance to their neighbors in times of their needs so they too may have the means to face life squarely. 

With Valiant Bank, supporting their financial needs, John and Rosma used their loan proceeds to finance the fishermen's basic needs. They financed gasoline expenses, construction of fishing boats, and purchase of fishing implements, all "payable when able" at the convenience of the beneficiary until the expenditure is fully covered. They do not charge interest from the materials they financed. Instead, the fishermen sold to them their catch, strengthening their dealership role. For John and Rosma, this sharing is simply a life philosophy but as applied to business this has become an effective strategy creating a very strong alliance based on interwoven aspirations, interests and concerns. Indeed the circle of life rolls on for the forty (40) fishermen who directly benefited by this act of "Shared Hardships, Collective Joys."

John and Rosma's desire to help their neighbors survived the challenges of life with their dignities intact. It made them diversify into other businesses such as: seaweeds, sari-sari store, fresh squid dealership, fish cage operation, sea cucumber, African hito, fresh vegetables, orchids and flower garden, fish drying (danggit), nail cleaning, banana cue, tricycle for hire, and rematado jewelry business. These diversifications are their "rhythmic side-steps" as they continueto find ways and adapt to the ruggedness of life. This has also redefined Valiant Bank role in the life of the couple. From a financial institution committed "to make a positive difference in people's lives", through its products and services, the bank also took some side-steps and expanded its services to business consulting for free to them. This strategy together with the Cabillon's unique business philosophy of shared undertakings brought forth sustainability.

It is no surprise to see John and Rosma becoming idolized by their neighbors as they still continue to touch base with their peers. They have the propensity to bring smiles back to faces of people they helped. Gerald and Trinidad Villegas (neighbors) shared that it was the Cabillons who taught them to "smile back at life", after having been saved from extreme poverty. The Cabillons financed the equipment needed to harvest sea cucumbers, taught them processing, preserving and selling techniques, and even equally dividing the profits, Cecil Bullos, a fisherman said that "they themselves who asked for help from this family have adapted a sense of responsibility to payback the favor, as they know the couple only had good intentions without even profiting from the help they extended." Florencia, the former "Squid Queen" never held any grudge about her dethronement. She said it was the Cabillons who made her realize that her business perspective "TO COMPETE" was extended by the Cabillons to make it COMPLETE, with their love for neighbor. Another offshoot of their success is their more defined involvement in community affairs. From out of the profits of their businesses they partially funded the renovation of their chapel, and managed some major church activities such as processions during Holy Week and other celebrations. Rosma became head of the local chapter of COMSCA (Community Savings and Credit Association) an organization which provides counseling on financial management to Heads of Families. They were also tapped by World-Vision to participate in Child Health Now! Children's Assembly. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente also came to them and sought their assistance in community-based projects. 

The husband and wife are fondly called by neighbors as "Dalangpan Sang Namatyan" (Comforter of the Bereaved) as they readily advance funeral expenses to their neighbors who are in grief due to the demise of a family member. They gladly acknowledge that this is a turn-around from the days of being "Death Commissioners."

When asked about their secret to success, John and Rosma are all praises for Valiant Bank who believed in them even when they were new acquaintances before. They were also clear in their philosophy of Shared Hardships, Collective Joys and the strategy of Side-Stepping the barriers in order to move forward.     


Most Outstanding Microentrepreneur for Mindanao
Jerome N. Cantutay
Guma-od, Claveria, Misamis Oriental
LCAP Client of the Starjed Micro Financing Corporation

"Prayers and hardwork made all these happen!", this is what Mr. Jerome N. Cantutay, 33 years old from Guma-od, Claveria, Misamis Oriental has to say when asked about his secret to success. He was born on February 8, 1979 at Kiharong, Maramag, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental. At the age of 20, he got married to Leodariza Panimdim. Their union was blessed with two (2) children with ages thirteen (13) and six (6). 

Realizing that married life is not a piece of cake, Jerome started his story from rags to riches in the year 1999 when he started planting cassava on a rented lot with an area of 5,000 sq.m. land by his father so that he could plant corn and cassava. But he was not earning so he decided to venture into rose plantation.

He started his rose plantation with only two lines or roses. Each line is 20m long and would contain 600 rose stalks per line. From that he would have total sales of P500.00 and a net income of P250.00 pesos per harvest which is done three times in a week. He knew that roses sell like hot cakes so he decided to rent additional parcel of land with 5,000 sq.m. area to expand his rose plantation.

In 2007, Jerome employed Dondon de Gracia. Dondon takes charge of the budding (an artificial method of propagation by grafting a bud from one variety onto the stem of another), harvest, spray and the overall maintenance of the rose plantation, while Jerome is busy in the marketing and delivery of his roses. It was also during this time that he was able to purchase one secondhand motorcycle and one water pump for the plantation.

In need for additional funds for labor and budding, he decided to apply for a loan at STARJED and granted with the initial amount of P10,000 on June 5, 2008. From then on, his business prospered little and expanded his market to Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Pagadian, Ozamiz, Dipolog and Camiguin. In 2009, he was able to purchase a Suzuki Pickup type Multicab which was then utilized as a delivery vehicle for roses for his buyers at Cagayan de Oro City. On the same year, he was able to procure additional land.

In the year 2010, Mr. Cantutay was able to acquire a house and lot furnished with appliances and a jeepney which is used to deliver his growing orders of roses in Cagayan de Oro City and again procured additional land. He employed seven (7) workers. 

To date, his rose planting grew into 3 hectares. Growing marvelous roses and maintaining regular clients is quite difficult especially with the cut-throat competition present in the market today. Yet Jerome's rose plantation stands out from other competitors because of its unique rose planting technique. It employs budding technology. Each of the rose stalks would bear different rose color varieties (i.e., pink, white, red, and yellow). This technology enables him to easily produce roses based on a particular color demand for weddings and other important occasions even with only a month's notice from his clients. Jerome sells his roses at P50.00 per dozen on regular days and P300.00 per dozen on Valentine's day. 

Aside from his personal improvement, Jerome has also many positive contributions in the society. Through his rose plantation, Mr. Cantutay was able to give employment to twenty (20) regular workers on his farm, mostly out of school youths and some are his siblings and relatives.

This year 2012, Mr. Jerome Cantutay is set to start his poultry business come June in a pawned land near his rose plantation and keeping his fingers crossed that this too will prosper so he could share more to the needy.

Jerome gives donations to schools, extends volunteerism by making his jeepney available for use to emergency calls, volunteers to pay hospital bills of his kababayans in need, pledges flowers for Sunday massed and special occasions as his simple way of giving back to God and sharing to his community all the blessings he receive everyday. 

Though Jerome was not able to pursue his college education after graduating from high school, his story is a sure proof that indeed success in life can be achieved by hardwork, patience, sheer determination and constant connection with God.  


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