Women in Agriculture: Boosting participation through post-harvest activities


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by: Reynelle A. Cariño Seeing each day as another chance for great opportunities, Benedicta always wakes up early in the morning, prepares her family’s breakfast, visits her ‘kalamyas’ stored in the kitchen with ‘saba’ bananas, waters her organic vegetables, and … Continue reading

Pawnshops: Growing industry fueled by unemployment

by Marielle DSJ Chico

“Matagal na akong walang trabaho kasi hindi ko ma-process yung mga papeles ko.”

These are the words of Jane (not her real name), a customer of a local pawnshop called Network Gadget Phoneshop in Los Baños, Laguna.

Jane attempted to pawn off her cellular phone so she can have money to use in processing requirements for her job application. According to her, pawning off personal effects, such as jewelry and cellular phones, is the fastest and easiest way of getting money in times of need. She needs a relatively small amount of money, and this amount simply cannot be borrowed from banks.

A few minutes after entering the shop, Jane walked out empty handed. The pawnbroker rejected her phone, which was classified as an old unit.

Pawnshop industry in the Philippines

Jane is only one of the many Filipinos who turn to pawnshops for easy money.

In an interview with the inquirer.net, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) noted that there is a recorded 17,408 pawnshops in the country. Clearly, pawnshops outnumber banks, which are only 9,803 throughout the Philippines. The accessibility of pawnshops is one of the reasons why people choose to pawn their items in times of urgent need of money. It is also hassle-free as it only requires presenting and giving a clear copy of the pawner’s valid ID.

Another advantage that customers get is that they do not directly sell their item and can redeem it after paying their loan/s within the date stated on the contract. Also, as long as their offer is of great value, the pawners can be sure that their items will be accepted.

However, despite all the benefits given by pawnshops, there is still a social connotation that pawnshops are a haven for thieves because these establishments supposedly accept stolen items. In addition, pawnshops give both low appraisal and high interest rates to some valuable items, like jewelry and gadgets, since all of their customers are in urgent need of money and would be ready to take any amount. Thus, people see pawnshops as predators preying on people in need of financial assistance.

In recent data presented in March 2015 by www.tradingeconomics.com, an online site that releases surveys regarding economic issues, unemployment rate in the country as of January 2015 is at 6.6 percent, which is up by 0.6 percent from the rate in October 2014, but 1.1 percent lower than the rate in January 2014. The unemployment rate is determined by the number of jobless people who are actively seeking jobs; people who are unemployed but not looking for jobs are excluded from the statistics.

One requirement in applying for jobs in the Philippines is an NBI clearance. In order to get one, a person must first secure a police clearance, a barangay clearance, and a local taxpayer’s certificate (cedula). Other requirements in job applications include Social Security System (SSS) card, medical certificate, and PhilHealth membership. Adding up the cost of these requirements, a job applicant must prepare at least Php 2,500 just to have documents ready for photocopying and attached to their resume or biodata. Other miscellaneous expenses, like transportation and food purchased during the process, are not yet included.

Unemployed individuals usually have families to feed. Because they do not have work, they have to look for other ways to support their families while looking for job opportunities. Some of them have children who go to school. Thus, aside from the tuition fee, they have to provide school supplies, uniforms, and other “musts,” such as allowance or snacks. The financial responsibility does not end here as they also have to provide for the whole family: food, shelter, and the bills. Even during unemployment, many individuals are still breadwinners of their families.

How could someone who does not have any source of income pay for all of these?

By doing as Jane does — going to pawnshops.

Ensuring safety

In order to clear off this negative image and to help the industry grow, the BSP and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) decided to take action to ensure that pawnshops are complying with laid down rules and regulations. The BSP launched a campaign entitled “Know-Your-Pawner”, also known as Memorandum No. M-2013-020 (started strict implementation last 2013), where pawnshops were asked to be stricter in accepting pawns, know with whom they are transacting by requiring customers to present a valid ID that indicates his/her residential address (the customer can also show the original and give a clear copy of certification of the barangay stating that he/she is living there or a billing statement with the person’s address), and if the stated cost of the item to be pawned off is true to its value and were not stolen.

The pawner could present any of the following identification cards: passport, driver’s license, Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) ID, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance, police clearance postal ID, voter’s ID, barangay certification, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) e- Card, Social Security System (SSS) Card, senior citizen card, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) ID, OFW ID, seaman’s book, Alien Certification of Registration/Immigrant Certificate of Registration, government office and GOCC ID, certification from the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP), DSWD certification, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) ID, and company IDs.

The BSP also warned the public about unregistered pawnshops and told them to check first if the pawnshop was registered in BSP before making any transactions. One way to be sure if the pawnshop was registered was by checking the list of pawnshops on the website of BSP. Registered pawnshops also have a sticker from BSP proving that they were given permission to operate. They also reminded the public to read first the contract before signing it to avoid future problems, especially when the customer wishes to redeem his/her pawned valuables.

Conflicts faced by pawnshops

Network Gadget Phoneshop, a local pawnshop, scheduled a big sale for 2015 because, according to management, the establishment needs to dispose off so many unclaimed items. Staffers of the pawnshop display a wide variety of gadgets for sale at very affordable prices.

It is an everyday sale day for the people who are looking for branded yet cheap gadgets.

Network Gadget Phoneshop displays gadgets that were not redeemed by pawners. These gadgets are up for sale. Photo by MDSJ Chico

The large number of unredeemed pawned off items prompted the Network Gadget Phoneshop to start 2015 with their glass cabinet displays full of gadgets ranging from cellular phones, tablets, laptops, handheld gaming consoles, and different kinds of cameras. The displays have since been attracting customers. The items were quickly disposed off, and as of April, only high-value items remain, such as iPhones and iPads.

In an interview, Angel (not her real name), an employee of Network Gadget Phoneshop, said that more items are being auctioned off than redeemed, that is why they need to be selective of the items accepted for pawning. There is no guarantee that the old-model cellular phone owned by Jane will be sold if ever she failed to pay her loan.

Angel also said that one of the drawbacks for the pawnshops is when their customers failed or decided not to redeem their pawned item anymore. For the pawnshops, there is no assurance that the item will be sold once it was put on a sale. Since these items are secondhand, they would also have to sell them at a lower price because truth be told, no one would buy a secondhand if they can have a brand new one at the same price even though they are different items.

“Yung matagal na masyado sa amin yung item, for auction na [pero] may naghahabol pa. Sakaling naibenta na nagrereklamo po sila,” she said when asked about the other problems that they experience with their clients. All they can do during these moments is show that contract that their customers have signed and tell them that it is final and irrevocable.

Pawnshops—the best band-aid solution for unemployed people

The solution that the government can do regarding the growing pawnshop industry in the country is to provide support to the people in the industry even to the simplest thing. The “Know-Your-Pawner” policy and checking if the pawnshop ID BSP was BSP registered will give security to the pawnshops and the customers, and at least through that, they can lessen the problems faced by the people in need of money.

This may not be the solution to the problem of everyone like Jane, but through the effort of remedying the problems of the marginalized sector in the country and supporting the pawnshop industry in the Philippines, this might serve as a first-aid to those who make sacrifices just to provide for their families.

Provincial Government to hold ‘Serbisyong Tama Caravan’ in Los Baños

Serbisyong Tama Caravan will be held this coming Friday, May 22, 7 AM at the Paciano Rizal Park near the old Municipal Hall.

According to an announcement on Gov. Ramil Hernandez’s Facebook page, the Serbisyong Tama Caravan shall offer various free services to the public such as medical, dental, and optical check-ups and medicines.

The program will also offer free legal consultation, animal vaccination, plants and seedlings, haircut, and facial treatments. Alongside the free services, there will be livelihood trainings, a feeding program for children and a job fair participated by local and international employment agencies.

The provincial government of Laguna partnered with the municipal government of Los Baños as part of its town-to-town conduct of the program. Serbisyong Tama Caravan has been conducted on neighboring cities and towns such as San Pablo, Cabuyao, Calamba, Biñan, Santa Rosa, Siniloan, Nagcarlan, Kalayaan, and Liliw. The provincial government will partner up with other towns and cities in Laguna to continue offering the program’s services to more people. (Press Release)

Running for the Future: LB trains youth in running

by:  Dionelyn E. Servanez 

5, everything seemed to move in slow pace

4, hearts were racing, pounding fiercely within their chest

3, people takes in a deep breath to release the tension

2, eyes focused preparing to hear the signal

Boom! Beats of feet against the ground echoed as runners hear the gunshot. It has just started.

A new track for the youth has just been laid during “Takbo ng Kabataan Tungo sa Kinabukasan”, a fun run held last April 25 at the Baybayin Covered Court. Runners were the 21 and below youth of Los banos. This is in line with the plan of the Municipal Sports Development Office headed by Mr. Marcos Dizon to hold a free training on marathon running.

Kasama talaga ito [marathon running] sa program [Youth and Sports Development Training Program]. Nagsimula sa basketball, volleyball tapos ngayon marathon naman (Originally, this is included in the program. It started with basketball, volleyball and then now we venture to marathon running),” said by Dizon.

Registering for the 'Takbo ng Kabataan, Tungo sa Kinabukasan'

The fun run has no registration fee and was open for all constituents of Los Banos. A total of 202 runners joined – 124 male and 78 female.  Three categories were launched both for the male and female runners:

  • 3 km run for youth aged 13 and below
  • 10 km run for 14-16 years old
  • 15 kilometer run for 17-21 years old

A cash prize of Php 1500 for the first, Php 1000 for the second and Php 500 for the third were received by the winners of each category.

James Bryle P. Ballester, Paulo T. Abiera and George B. Canape were the first placers in 3 km, 5 km and 10 km category respectively for the male runners. On the other hand, Faith M. Banares, Elaine Banares and Julia Tano won the first place in 3 km, 5 km and 10 km category respectively for the female runners. Youngest participants were also recognized – Enrico T. Garcia, three years old and Christine M. Banares, six years old and also the second placer for 3 km run female category.

Winners from this event as well as interested participants will then be the first batch of trainees for the planned Marathon Sports Clinic. Nineteen participants confirmed their interest to join right after the event. They enlisted their names and contact numbers. Nine were from Brgy. Baybayin, six were from Brgy. San Antonio, and one each from Brgy. Anos, Malinta, Timugan and Tuntungin Putho.

FINAL STEP. Runner 10K-007, Julia Tano, takes her final step to grab the title of being the first placer of 10Km run women’s category with a time of 51.15 minutes during the Fun Run entitled “Takbo ng Kabataan Tungo sa Kinabukasan” at Barangay Baybayin Covered Court, Los Banos on April 25.

The program’s starting line

In December 2013, the former Municipal Sports Coordinator Geronimo Luna started the Youth and Sports Development Training program. Under the program, the MSDO offers free training for residents of Los Banos aged 17 and below.

Its first three phases covered which basic training on basketball and volleyball. The second phase was in April 2014 where skills learned were applied by competing in leagues. Meanwhile, the third phase was geared towards the advancement of skills in various competitions. Now, MSDO plans to venture on other sports like marathon running to include more young people into the program.

Imbis na malulong sa bisyo ‘yong mga bata, ginagawa naming paraan ‘yong programa  para i-divert and atensiyon nila sa sports (instead of the youth being indulged in vices, we use the program to divert their attention in sports),”  Arvin Averion, municipal sports aide, said.

When asked why the youth is their target trainees, Averion said “Mas magandang habang bata palang nate-train na yung mga bata; mas madaling turuan pati mas active (It is better to train the children in their formative years. It is easier to teach them and they are more active.)”

More than Just Running

According to Nick Gandeza, a running enthusiast and also the coach of Laguna de Bay Running Team, there are many benefits that running could give a person both physically and socially. In terms of physical benefits, aside from strengthening muscles, building strong bones and developing endurance and stamina, running saves one from multiple health ailments. This is because it lowers blood pressures and it strengthens one’s cardiovascular-capacity. Also, it slows down a person’s aging process and is a form of relaxation.

Furthermore, running also benefits runners socially as it builds up camaraderie among them through activities like competitions and trainings. For example, in Laguna de Bay Running Team, they conduct regular endurance and regular time trials trainings which prepares the runners in various competitions and also a form of bonding run among their members. In the competitions they join, they meet new runners from which they expand their contacts with.

For Coach Gandeza, running is a potential avenue to inspire the youth to change their lifestyle. Instead of being addicted to drugs or cigarettes, such form of recreation will help them develop not only their physical attributes but also in honing their self-discipline.

However, these benefits would not be attained without continuous training. Many are encouraged to join but easily give up. There are potential athletes but are not committed on what they do. They run for the sake of the game and do not bring the sports close to their hearts.  Hence, it is important to cultivate the minds and the attitude of the youth runners towards the sport. Make them realize the difference that its benefits could bring about in them; and let them ignite their passion for running.

MSDO Ties Up with UPLB

As of now, there are still no appropriate training facilities for the potential athletes of marathon running. The field that they plan to use is the Paciano Rizal Park near the old Municipal Hall but it is small and has concrete flooring. Hence, the office plans to coordinate with UPLB to use the upper and lower field.

“Gusto naming makipag-coordinate sa Department of Human Kinetics para matulungan kami sa pagte-train ng mga bata (we would like to coordinate with the Department of Human Kinetics in training the children)”, Dizon said. In particular, they are seeking for the UPLB running team to teach them basic skills and techniques in running.

According to Myra Luz Abueg, Coach of UPLB Track and Field Team, if the coordination with the DHK will be granted they are willing to help in the program. She offered her time during Saturdays every 6:30-8:00 am for the initial training; and 4:00pm onwards during Wednesdays and Fridays for the regular training. This coordination could also be a potential community service project of the team.

In return, Dizon helped the Track and Field Team in granting their request from the Municipal Government of Los Banos to provide the chairs, tents, sound system and tables needed in their running event – Makiling Challenge  last May 3.  Two tents, set of tables and chairs, as well as the sound system were provided.

Fund your Future, Run

A new track has been laid. The initiative of MSDO provides a better path for the youth to take. Marathon running as an additional sport in the program poses a lot of intended positive impacts and these would not be attainable without the coordination of the participants, parents, municipality and partner running team.  With the improved sports development program, now children are given reasons to run not just for fun but also as an investment to their future.

‘Farmers’ to ‘Farmer-Entrepreneurs’: PCAARRD-LGU collaborate to teach farmers about marketing


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by: Johanna Marie F. Drece “Napakamura na nga ng benta mo tapos babaratin ka pa,” said the frustrated farmer, Mang Nestor. Just like any other small-scale farmer in Los Baños, Laguna, 65-year old Nestor Pamulaklakin of Brgy. Maahas wants to … Continue reading

Los Baños celebrates “Araw ng Kabataan”

by Johanna Marie F. Drece

Los Baños observed “Araw ng Kabataan” on April 12, 2015 as one of the municipality’s activities for its quadricentennial anniversary celebration. Two activities were held to mark the occasion, namely, team building in the morning at the old municipal building and Singtunado: The Voice of TRY and Group Presentation in the evening at the new municipal building.

The participants of the activities, which were organized by municipal tourism office, were members of a newly founded organization called The Responsible Youth of Los Baños (TRYLB). Started in September 2014, the group advocates for youth development and responsibility in order to contribute to the growth of Los Baños.

“Gusto ng organization na maging aktibo at magkaroon ng koneksyon sa bawat kabataan. Minsan lang maging youth. Kailangan may aktibong partisipasyon,” Rommel Maningas of the municipal tourism office said.

For the Araw ng Kabataan event, TRYLB members were grouped according to barangay of residence. The red team was consisted of members from Batong Malake, Maahas, and Tuntungin Putho; the blue team was made up of members from San Antonio, Mayondon, and Anos; the white team had members from Baybayin, Bayog, and Malinta; and the black team was composed of members from Timugan, Lalakay, and Bambang.

The four teams competed in 12 different games, including sack race and ball relay.

United despite the different colors. Members of the Responsible Youth of Los Banos have fun during the team-building activities during the Araw ng Kabataan organized by the local government. Photos by JM Drece

The white team was declared the grand winner of the team-building games and bagged the P5,000 cash prize. The team also won during the presentation night and got P2,500. Johnfren Rasgo Magtibay of the black team won first place in the Singtunado contest and brought home P1,500.

“Nakakapagod yung mga laro at nakakakaba, pero masaya kasi panalo kami,” 19-year-old Greg Banzon of the white team said when asked how it felt like when he was playing during the games.

Even if they came in last, Bob Lapis of blue team said they still enjoyed the games. “Nagpunta kami dito para matuto kaya okay lang,” he added.

Maningas said that while Mayor Caesar Perez fully supports the founding of TRYLB and the holding of such activities, he wishes for the organization to stay out of politics to avoid counterproductive criticisms.

According to him, the Araw ng Kabataan activities generally aim to establish camaraderie among the organization’s members and to unify the youth from different barangays.

“Masaya yung activity kasi kahit hindi kami magkakakilala noong una, nabubuo ng laro yung samahan. Halos lahat naman kasi, by barangay lang magkakakilala. Sa ganitong team building, nagkakakilala kami,” Nico Reblora, 23-year old TRYLB chairman of Brgy. Baybayin, said.

“Bago palang yung org. Puro meeting palang yung ginagawa. Mabuti na nagkaroon ng ganitong team building kasi focused sa buong Los Baños yung activity at hindi lang sa isang particular na barangay. Mas nagkakakilanlan ngayon yung members,” said Crissar Joy Munding, a TRYLB councilor of the Brgy. San Antonio chapter.

Members of TRYLB are Los Baños residents aged 17 to 25 years. According to Maningas and Ervim Malabanan, the designated president of the organization, the members were pre-selected through their 1) voluntarism, 2) dedication, 3) willingness to be a part of the development of Los Baños. It was not only after the “Araw ng Kabataan” did the organization became open for new members.

“Hindi naman kasi pagpaparami ang purpose namin. Gusto kasi muna naming makapag-establish ng magandang organization bago kami maging open sa new members. Gusto naming makilala ang TRYLB sa kagandahan nito at hindi sa dami ng members,” Maningas said in an interview on April 10, 2015.

Maningas said that young residents of Los Baños can now be a part of the organization through expressing their willingness to be a part of the organization with the TRYLB chairman in their barangay. In case of not knowing who the chairman is, they can visit the Tourism Office personally at the second floor of the New Municipal Building.

The organization does not have a complicated membership process.

“Willingness na makatulong, dedication sa organization, at hangaring maging kasali sa pag-unlad ng bayan lang ang kailangan para maging member ng TRYLB,” Maningas said.