In Cebu’s laid-back southern-most town of Santander, communities mostly depend on agriculture and fishing for livelihood. It is also in this quaint town where the skills training program of the Capitol’s Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) has reaped most success since it was launched over five years ago.
In 2012, the Provincial Government, through the PVO, launched a Meat Processing Livelihood Project to maximize the capabilities of the people by teaching them skills that would help them generate more income.
Fast forward to December 13, 2017, PVO, in partnership with the LGU of Santander and the Department of Education, showcased the skills of their students in meat processing.
The day consisted of trainees demonstrating six recipes: tocino, skinless longanisa, siomai, siopao, vegetable lumpia and hamonada.
The program’s coordinators, PVO’s Elizabeth Abellana and Finafrancia Labra, said they are extremely proud of their trainees, especially in Santander, who fully-embraced what they learned in their trainings.
Abellana and Labra, or fondly called by their trainees as Ma’am Abet and Ma’am Flor, personally oversee the trainings.
“Ang amo gi-focus kay ang mga asawa sa mga farmers,” said Labra, adding that the training is part of PVO’s services in product development and post-harvest techniques.
The training consists of a five-day seminar with step-by-step guides from PVO coordinators. At the end of the seminar, the students conduct their own return-demonstration and showcase what they’ve learned.
Abellana shared their struggles in making the livelihood project a reality.
“Igka human sa trabaho, kami pay mangumpra sa mga karne na gamitonon sa demonstration sa trainees,” she shared.
“Pero alegre man gihapon, kay nakita namu na grabe ka successful ang Santander,” Abellana proudly said.
The program was offered in almost all LGUs. Some accepted, while some declined, but Santander was the most successful amongst them all.
“Amo gyud ni gisugdan sa eskwelahan,” Abellana said. “Gi tawag ug gi-ahwag namu ang mga mama na naghulat sa ilang mga anak. Amo sila gitudluan para dili mausik ang ilang oras ug naa silay mabuhat na productive,” she added.
Abellana said when they started in 2012, they pioneered with 30 members under the Rural Improvement Class (RIC), but decided to not only train mothers and wives, but also teachers and those who are interested to learn.
“(It’s) added value sa ilang livelihood,” said Abellana, explaining that farmers can produce more variety of sellable goods from their crops and livestock.
Rolando Bendanillo, a teacher and one of the trainees for the livelihood program, said the school provides support to the RICs and finished products are then sold to teachers, parents and even those outside the municipality.
After the initial training, Rolando, together with Rosie Audiencia, also a resident teacher, became the local coordinators for the Santander RICs.
Audiencia, the Alternative Learning System (ALS) coordinator said that such program can greatly benefit the students especially Out-of-School Youths (OSY) into refocusing their energies to more productive means.
From the original municipal RIC, two RICs were added; namely; The Alternative Learning System RIC and the community-based Liloan RIC.
An equitable profit-sharing scheme is made where 40 percent is retained as capital and 60 percent is shared by the producers. Even those who are differently-abled have greatly benefited from the project.
Jenita Arestang, who joined the RICs last 2014 and is currently the PWD federation president of Santander, said the training helped her reach her full potential.
“Na-develop mi mga ginikanan, ug naa mi mabuhat bisan naghulat mi ug naka earn mi ug benefit,” Arestang said.
“Instead of makachika-chika maabot ug away, maka-gain ka ug kaalam na ma-apply sa imong kaugalingon, makagain mi ug extra income,” she added.
Abellana said Arestang was even invited in other towns to demonstrate some recipes they learned in their trainings.
Adding to the project’s success, the Department of Labor and Employment 7 (DOLE 7) awarded the Santander RIC with a livelihood grant of P60,000 and donated a meat processing equipment for the members to make use of.
Further, Labra said they have a growing RIC in Danao City, where a partnership with a local parish has been established.
Through partnerships with more LGUs and other sectors, the Davide administration aims to fulfill its promise of inclusive growth and countryside development.