Lerma’s story of trials and successes

Sharing an inspiring story from DSWD

RUNNING a sari-sari store and keeping it afloat despite the mushrooming of competitors nearby can be very difficult. Prizes have to be kept competitive. The “suki” (avid buyers) have to be sustained. Stocks should be readily available.

To edge up on the competition, Lerma Hidayawan uses diligence and careful planning in managing her sari-sari store. She also boasts of this one more advantage: she now meticulously puts into practice the lessons she learned from her attendance to livelihood trainings facilitated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The 47-year-old Lerma of Brgy. Vista Alegre, Bacolod City has taken on a lot of menial works in the past. She used to help husband Danilo sell fishes in the neighborhood. But when sickness got into him and he was forced to rest, Lerma stood as both father and mother to her four children. For one a half year, she ventured into buying and selling fried chicken that gave her, at most, P200 income if fully sold out.

Lerma Hidayawan of Brgy. Vista Alegre, Bacolod City 
is a picture of contentment as she remarked how far better her life is now.

Lerma also recalled working as a street sweeper in Bacolod City under the City Government for one year.

“Tanan lang nga paagi, ginhimo ko para mabuhi ko ang mga kabataan (I did everything I could to provide for my children),” said Lerma.

Lerma considered it a blessing when, in 2011, her family was chosen as beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of DSWD. Two of her children - Jennylyn, now 12 years old; and Jenerose, now eight years old – receive P300 each as education assistance from the Program on top of the P500 health grant for the family.

 Lerma was happy to share that since the start of Pantawid Pamilya, their family has been abiding by the conditions of the Program on health, education and attendance to Family Development Session (FDS). Proof to their compliance is their full availment of P2,200 cash grant every two months.

Her inclusion in Pantawid Pamilya also opened doors of opportunities for Lerma. In June 2012, she and 24 other beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya availed of seed capital for their chosen micro-enterprise under the Self-employment Assistance - Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Program of DSWD.

Dureza Oropesa, Project Development Officer of DSWD Field Office VI, said SEA-K is one of the components of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department that provides seed capital and entrepreneurship trainings to economically-active poor.

Lerma’s group, which they named FF Achievers SEA-K Association, is the first group of Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who availed of seed capital amounting to P125,000, Oropesa added.

“Bago kami natagaan pondo, damo nga trainings amon gin-atenan kag damo gid kami nahibal-an kung paano magpalakat sang negosyo (Before we were given funding, we attended so many trainings where we learn a lot on how to manage a business),” Lerma said.

Lerma got her P5,000 and started a “bigasan” (rice retailing outlet) which she set up in their house. She also started a small store, selling basic food items.

Early in 2013, Oropesa tapped Lerma to attend another training this time, in collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Coca-Cola.

“Lerma was very active as a Parent Leader of Pantawid Pamilya and a treasurer of FF Achievers SKA. She thirsts for more knowledge and skills to further improve her small business that it didn’t need a second invitation for her to say yes to attend the S3TAR Program,” Oropesa said.

S3TAR is the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources program of TESDA and Coca-Cola for women with existing sari-sari stores. The program provides free entrepreneurship training for three months. Training participants, whom they call “scholars,” are given certificates of completion on Basic Entrepreneurship course, additional capital from accredited lending or micro-finance institutions, and freebies for stores such as cooler, signage and promo items from Coke.

Lerma shares that her determination to apply the knowledge and skills she got from these trainings greatly helped her efficiently manage her store which now gives her an average daily earnings of P1,000.

“Gin-utihan ko gid sunod ang mga tips nga gintudlo nila sa amon. Dapat appealing sa manugbakal ang pag-arrange sang baligya, paano mag-entertain sang manugbakal. Adlaw-adlaw ginalista ko kung ano ang mabakal. Amo na nga nagdako ang kita namon. Kag syempre dapat may gina-save gid (I meticulously practiced the tips that they taught us. The arrangement of the items should be appealing, how to entertain the buyers. Everyday, I would list down the most-sought after items. That is why our earnings upped. And of course, I learned the value of savings),” Lerma said.

The Hidayawan family of Brgy. Vista Alegre, Bacolod City. 
From left: Jenny Joy, Jenerose, Lerma, Danilo and Jeffrey.

Lerma’s face light up in delight as she observes how her situation now is far better than it was before.

“Mahambal ko nga naka-angat na, medyo nakaginhawa na kami subong. Mahatag na gid namon subong ang mga kinahanglan sang mga kabataan sa ila pag-eskwela. Ang balay namon, napa-amat-amat naman namon pakay-o halin sa kita sang tiangge kag re-loaning namon sa SEA-K (I can say that our life has improved. We can now provide for our children’s needs in school. We have gradually repaired our house through our store’s income and the re-loan we got from SEA-K),” said Lerma.

She added that her husband Danilo has gone back to working and now earns from driving motorcycles or from working in construction, whenever there is available.

“Damo-damo ako plano. Damo-damo ako handum. Handum ko gid nga mapatapos sanday Jennylyn and Jenerose sa high school. Kay ang duha nila ka magulang, wala nakatapos high school. May blessing gid man basta gasalig lang (I have so many plans. I have so many dreams. It is really my hope that Jennylyn and Jenerose finish high school. Because their two other elders were not able to graduate from high school. Blessings come to people who have faith, indeed),” she said.

Lerma’s plans are seemingly achievable as can be seen in the effort and dedication she gives to her store and all other undertakings she meets along the way. (DSWD6/ Alma Jornadal-Estember)


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