Do you want to be self-employed?

The time has come when ordinary people can easily start a business because of the presence of financial assistance provided by several government agencies.
One of them is the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Program of the government. It is a livelihood and capability building program that enhances the skills of poor families so they could establish and manage sustainable credit organizations in order for them to start a business.
In the municipality of Oton, the Lambuyao SEA-K was established on Aug. 19, 2001 with 25 members.
Lambuyao SAK officers and members

Lambuyao is an agricultural village which is three kilometers away from the Poblacion.
Most of its residents are farm labourers, vendors of fish or vegetables, embroiderers, dressmakers and owners of sari-sari stores.
The Lambuyao SKA was established through the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office in order to improve the villagers’ economic situation.
“The role of the MSWD was to provide capital and training channelled through the association. Then, the association provides the financial assistance to the entrepreneurs,” according to Dimas Esmilla, visual artist and the Lambuyao SKA’s president from 2001 to 2010.
“And while we are borrowing money, we also invest on savings. For example, if the amortization is P100 a week, we also invest P30 for the savings. So, that’s P130 that goes to the association,” he said.
Back pack made of leather

He added that the association has paid off the MWSD and they are now operating from the savings that they pooled.
“Lambuyao SKA has helped me a lot. I was able to borrow money for my business at a very low interest of one or two percent per month. Also, if there is an exhibit, the DSWD taps us. Thus, our connections widen,” he said.
Esmilla makes souvenir items, accessories and bags made of leather and canvas.
His leather bags are fruits of his patiently re-constructing leather materials he bought from the ukay-ukay.
“This is where creativity sets in. Creativity is an important part of being successful in business. You have to research,” he said.
He lamented, though, that his bags don’t sell well in Iloilo City. “Ilonggos have a different mindset. They’d rather buy a fake Hermes or Louis Vuitton bag than buy something originally made by an Ilonggo,” he said.
Ladies' bag made of leather

That’s the reason why most of his clients are in Boracay Island where his products enjoy good patronage.
Esmilla said he engages in stone sculpture once in a while, too. “It’s nice to give sculptures to special friends,” he said.
He has long stopped depending on painting as his bread and butter. “Art cannot sustain my life as a single parent to two children,” he added.
Meanwhile, Esmilla hopes for a bright future for the Lambuyao SKA beneficiaries like himself.
In fact, the association under his term was recognized as Model SKA in 2009 because they generated a return of investment at such a short time and their products were entered in national exhibits and were included in the SEA-K’s brochure.
The association is now headed by Bingbing Robles.
Dimas Esmilla and his inspiration to work harder
- children Andi and Hannah

There are two ways to sharpen the mind. One is to clear it of any thought and to keep still for several minutes every day. This was tackled in my earlier column on the practice of Zen. Second is to meditate on an object.
Object meditation is a thinking exercise that revolves around one man-made object.
For three minutes, look, touch, smell or even taste that object. Get to know it better. Why was it created? Who made it? What can still be done about it?
Then, for another three minutes and with eyes closed, wilfully think of what that object can become or what else it can do apart from its present state.
For an un-practiced mind, certain visions that are not related to what you “will” for that object, enter. Set these aside and focus on what you already have willed for that object.
A daily exercise on object meditation can lead to focused attention and improved concentration.
It also improves one’s problem-solving capacity. So, if you are presented with a concern, your trained mind will start to think of ways to address it.
With a keen mind, the possibilities are endless! (Kathy Villalon, The News Today, July 5, 2012)

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