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WOOD SCULPTOR, DAIRY PRODUCERS IN RIZAL BAG REGIONAL TITLES IN KABUHAYAN AWARDS

Wood sculptor Sofio Cardenas and Llano Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative of Rizal province hailed as this year’s regional winners of DOLE-Best Assisted Livelihood Project (Individual and Group Categories).

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has been implementing livelihood projects throughout the years to reduce poverty incidence in the country. As many livelihood projects continue to reach success, the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) devised an annual incentive and reward system the Department’s Best Assisted Livelihood Project.

Also known as Kabuhayan Awards, DOLE aims to highlight the best practices and success stories of their livelihood beneficiaries.

A new path paved

Sofio Cardenas, a 69-year old wood sculptor in Taytay, Rizal and the regional winner for the Kabuhayan Awards (Individual Category) shared his humble beginnings to DOLE. Before he was assisted for the livelihood project, Cardenas only earned enough to support the needs of his family.

After his retirement, Cardenas ventured on wood working. But because he lacks on equipment to use for his craft, Cardenas needed to find a way to get the assistance.
In 2018, he went to DOLE-Rizal Provincial Office and was assisted to apply for a livelihood assistance. Fortunately, Cardenas was granted with wood work equipment that he asked. Some of the equipment he received includes plainer, drill, rooter, wood vacuum, and chainsaw.


Cardenas focuses his work in sculpting tables, chairs, wine holders and other wood decorations. He often stationed his wood crafts at the gate of different subdivisions. Because of this, many people including foreigners became his regular buyers.
Cardenas also include sustainability as a part of his craft. He uses defected wood and extracts the fine parts of it in creating his sculptures. With this, he could make fine products without contributing to wood wastes.

Currently, he earns PhP 7,000 to PhP 16,000 a month depending on the size and quantity of sculpture pieces that he sold. From his earnings, he was able to buy additional wood crafting equipment like chisels and mini grinder.

Cardenas expressed his gratitude to DOLE-Rizal Provincial Office especially the staff who assisted him to have this livelihood assistance.

“Ako’y lubos na nagpapasalamat sa DOLE [Rizal]. Kay Ma’am Vicky, kay Ma’am Janine, kay Ma’am Mavic sa pagbibigay nila ng oras at pagsuporta sa mga katulad kong nabigyan ng pagkakataon,” Cardenas said.

Growing business ventures

Started as a small farmers’ association in Jalajala, Rizal during the late ‘80s, Llano Farmers continue their support to each other’s endeavor as they lend helping hands to fellow agrarian reform beneficiaries. In 1992, Llano Farmers Association decided to upgrade their group and registered as a multi-purpose cooperative.

During those times, Llano Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LFMPC) focused on palay production, and irrigation in their community.

In 2005, LFMPC decided to venture into the business of production of dairy products. They underwent trainings and learned the process from milk extraction to dairy production. The following year, LFMPC introduced their dairy products under the brand name “Dairy Delights” (now known as Dairylicious after rebranding). Using PhP 1,000 pesos as a capital, LFMPC had produced fresh carabao’s milk, chocolate milk (choco milk), and kesong puti.

Unfortunately, as their business continues to grow, the farmers’ association also encountered serious challenges along the way. Due to lack of funds and raw materials to sustain their business, LFMPC admitted that they opted to loan the raw materials such as carabao’s milk, containers, and packaging from farmers and stores, and paid them weekly. They also borrow materials from their neighbors to reduce their operating expenses.

But this setback didn’t last long. To address the dilemma which is the source of raw materials, DOLE Rizal Provincial Office granted LFMPC a livelihood grant amounting to PhP 500,000. This enabled them to buy additional 12 carabaos which are the main source of milk for their dairy products.

Through the constant support of DOLE and other government agencies, LFMPC’s Dairylicious has always been recognized in different trade fairs.

 

As the product demand increases, LFMPC is in need for another source of raw materials. Because of this, they requested an enhancement livelihood grant to DOLE Rizal Provincial Office in 2019. They were granted an additional amount of PhP 500,000.00 which enabled them to buy ten more carabaos.

This enhancement paved another opportunity for LFMPC. With enough source of raw materials and through the help of the government, the cooperative secured millions worth of contract with Department of Education (DepEd). They provide carabao toned milk for the feeding program of DepEd.

LFMPC acquired more assets from their earnings. Currently, they have one closed van, one L-300, 16 two-door freezers, cooling tower, heat exchanger, and two auto-fill seals.
LFMPC also hired 35 workers from their members who are in-charge in the production, and packaging of products. Such workers are required to undergo series of dairy production trainings twice a year. Aside from receiving a minimum wage, they also enjoy the social security benefits.

Tagumpay Panguito, Genaral Manager of Llano Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, would like to extend her appreciation to all the government agencies who helped them succeed in dairy production business.

“On behalf of Llano Farmers, wala po akong makitang sapat na salita para sabihin sa inyo ang aming taos-pusong pasasalamat sa lahat po ng government agencies and even our local government unit [LGU of Jalajala], sa lahat po ng assistance, ayuda, tulong o project na ibinigay po ninyo sa amin,” Panguito expressed.

Kabuhayan regional winners are entitled to receive cash prizes. For best individual project, the winner will receive PhP 30,000 while for the best group project, the winner will receive PhP 50,000.

Sofio Cardenas and Llano Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative will represent the Region IV-A CALABARZON on the National Leg of the Kabuhayan Awards this year.

by:

Flint Osric T. Gorospe
Community Facilitator

Charmaine D. Baisa
LEO III

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2021-09-15
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