The Rizal Catering Services Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) traces its roots in the Municipality of Diffun, the gateway to the Province of Quirino and located close to Santiago City, the central hub of Isabela province. The location of the association displays flatlands with mountain ranges on the western and eastern sides apt for the production of rice, banana, root crops, tobacco and fruit-bearing trees.

Before the group was given intervention by the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), majority of the members of the association were plain housewives who were dependent on the income of their husbands. They relied on their husband’s salary as tenant farmers on which they earn about P150-P200 per day. Since they earned only seasonally on farming, most of their husbands opted for jobs in the neighboring municipality as construction workers.

SLP helped the group with market analysis of which they identified Food Catering Services as a viable enterprise since are no existing caterer/event stylist available in their locality. They took advantage of the identified market demand and their passion as housewives to cook.

The group subsequently underwent a 21-day capacity building through Skills Training on Catering Services. They were also aided with starter kits and a start-up capital to start their chosen endeavor.

After project implementation, the SLPA were able to acquire a complete set of kitchen utensils, three long tables, 13 single tables, wide array of fabrics and various decors to further support their business. They can now accommodate eight to ten catering services during peak season and a minimum of four catering services during lean season. They also maintain an impeccable standard on their styling designs, as part of their good practice. The SLPA even received a recognition from the LGU of Diffun on their participation during the ‘Pababalat Festival’ as they were the official caterer of the event.

As of the moment, the catering services of the SLPA primarily accommodate the demands of their clients within the barangay during special occasions but they also sometimes venture out to cater in the nearby barangays of Dumanisi, Villa Pascua, Aurora East and Aurora West, nearby municipalities of Alicia and Ramon in Isabela and even as far as the municipality of Lagawe, Ifugao. Their barangay local government unit (BLGU) also serves as their regular client during events of the barangay and also provided a base of operation for the SLPA. They built their impressive list of clienteles through referrals from former customers who were satisfied with their service.

During peak season, their catering services would earn an average of P72,000.00 per month while on lean days, they earn an average of P32,000.00. The association earn extra income by way of rentals of their utensils and facilities with an average income of P1,500.00 per transaction. The SLPA’s income on rentals translates to an additional income of P2,700.00 for each member.

The Quirino State University (QSU), recognizing the potential of the group, provided the association technical assistance as they shared their expertise on the National Certificate (NC) II courses.

To date, the SLPA was able to accumulate a total of P100,000.00 savings on their bank account. In the near future, they plan to purchase their own vehicle for their transport service, a set of sound system, and additional set of fabric as part of their expansion and to access larger markets.

The SLPA also dreams of having their own office to provide convenience and easy access to walk-in clients in the future and they are planning to enroll in TESDA for skills upgrading to fully maximize their capacities and be updated on the latest trends of design and styling. ### By: Melisen Taquiqui, SLP Social Marketing Officer with a report from: Chester Carlo M. Trinidad, OIC-Regional Information Officer