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Swerte Mia Soriano, Brgy. Binacag, Banna, Ilocos Norte

Success starts with a dream. And with that dream, a step. With a step, strides until that dream is achieved. I was moulded by life’s difficulties but these did not hinder me from carrying on with my dreams. I paved my way to getting a diploma and worked as a job order employee in the Department of Education for three years. However, because the salary was given only after the months of toil, my husband told me to stop working. And to help him, I tried swine and chicken raising, and selling, to support the finances of the family.

Lucky Theo, the business name named after our only child, started from love of learning. As the owner of the Lucky Theo Food Products, I started a small scale business with my own recipe in cooking patterned from the recipe on making Banana Chips published in a magazine I once read. These products were easily sold in nearby school as it was very affordable in one peso or five pesos only, and thus, I was encouraged to cook more.

Other products were added in the list. These include puto, donut, and coated peanut in basket and distributed to neighbouring stores. During Saturdays, with our motorcycle, I roam around the community with my products. From a capital of Php 1,500, I have a profit of of Php 700-800. So much happiness motivated me to continue with my business until a feedback that their coated peanut molds easily came to my ears. To address the comment, I tried and tried to no avail. My fondness of reading again guided me to the answer of my needs. With the Bannawag magazine, I was able to read the ‘Para kadagiti Inna: Nayon a Pagsapulan para iti Pamilia’ by Ms. Mercy Gano of MMSU Extension that showcased the recipes in making polvoron, pastillas, and Tamarind candy. In response to the announcement enjoined in the article, I wrote to the president of the university and was taught on how to cook coated peanut, polvoron, pastillas, and others. The training team also created a label and ‘etiketa’ for my five-peso banana chips be sold to other barangays. I was also lent an amount of Php 5,000 as an additional capital. With such support and guidance, I decided to persevere in my business to be able to pay the amount.

Exhaustion became a challenge being the sole worker in my business and so, we hired a helper. Since the number of my customers also grew, the need for a vehicle came in to cater to customers away from us. We took courage to buy a motorcycle in a three-year instalment basis. As we are aspired to move farther, then reached the soils of Batac, Dingras and Solsona. With God’s grace, we were able to pay our debt to MMSU for only six months.

fter some time, I was endorsed to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for packaging assistance. The team visited me, finding out that it is not advisable to process food at home. They said that they can help me if I will build a separate processing area. With that troubling my nights, Bella Gervacio, training specialist of MMSU came to her assistance sharing about the CHED program in CAFSD that assists unemployed Agriculture graduates through Dr. Esteban. I asked for their assistance and was lent an amount of Php 11,000 only in her fear of being unable to pay. Because the amount is insufficient for a building, they told me to pay the amount as soon as possible and they will be lending a greater amount. I paid my debt as soon as I was able and again borrowed Php 50,000 that served as my capital for the building, measuring 4×5 square meter. Through God’s provision, I was able to pay my debt and borrowed twice more.

DOST granted me a slicer while I set a Php 200,000 to buy a stainless table, plastic packages being used to date, and sealer. We were able to endure and pay our debts through the help of the Almighty Creator. My husband, my mother, and my only child, Lucky Theo, served as my inspiration in my persevering and stepping forward towards my dream.

The only helper we hired before now gained 7 counterparts—each designated with a specific work. We also bought a van for our deliveries as our tricycle is unable to reach the neighbouring provinces. Through the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), we were also able to participate in trade fairs in La Union, Vigan, and Laoag where I was able to get customers we are currently supplying. Our 4×5 processing has also doubled aside from the chicharon processing building. My business has also become a tourist attraction that local and foreign tourists visit. Eventually, I asked my husband to quit his job to help me manage our business. Sharing a gift is planting a seed of change to the community. With the growing business of the family, I was able to encourage my fellow in planting banana, camote and corn with me as the buyer.

Many were helped by the business and were motivated to do something to end their poverty as well. Such that our business and the people are working and growing, the business expanded to producing our own products such as Banana Chips, Camote Chips, Taro Chips, polvoron, Adobong Mani, Sweet Peanut, Chicharon, Turones de Mani, Spicy Sukang Iloko, and Potato chips when potatoes are cheap. From our ventures in the neighbourhood, transactions grew to as far as Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Manila, and even abroad as it is liked by tourists. And to share more to the community the blessings we are receiving, the family conducts a feeding program thrice a year in Quiaoit Memorial Elementary School. Hardwork, patience, trust in each other, and being a wise spender—are the qualities that a businessman should have. Truly, my story is a mirror of how love for learning and trusting in God has shown a multitude of ways in meeting one’s need.
As according to Sun Yat-sen, “The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance”.

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