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Every bean comes in various shapes, sizes and colors. From the moment it is burrowed in the soil, to the constant drizzle of water, the dash of fertilizer until finally the bud comes out to feel the warmth of the world, each has a story to tell, of the countless phases it had gone through. The process of reaching maturity requires the right play of elements. It involves the art of waiting that does not rush time nor force abrupt growth. Likewise, it is essential that all must come together in harmony until it blossoms and the pod reaps a harvest.

Just like every life resting on the social plane, all began as a tiny sprout reared and tested through time. But then again not all were nurtured equally. Most kept their pace and bloomed effortlessly. Some struggled to flourish due to unfavorable circumstances and were hindered from reaching their full potential.

As dawn breaks, the untiring hands of a mother gather tiny golden beans. Amidst the difficulty to mobilize her hands, she patiently soaks each batch of beans. When it becomes saturated, she continues on to the process of grinding. Under a low fire, the extract is continuously stirred for almost three hours. After the grueling process, the mother finally gets a taste of her sweet labor, warm, creamy and smooth milk that eases her weary soul.

Miram C. Macasaddu was born with congenital hand deformities, a Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program participant from the municipality of Benito Soliven, Isabela. Even long before, she knew that she was one of the many who will struggle to flourish. But despite physical limitations, she strived to fight life’s adversities but somehow felt that her efforts were not enough. Before finishing third year high school, she built a family and married Ernesto Macasaddu. To be able to add to the meager income of her husband as a utility worker, she peddled vegetables, snacks, and other things she could sell in the neighborhood. As she tried to withstand poverty, yet another challenge tested her faith. Her husband battled cancer and eventually passed away. It was a trying time when she had no choice but to sell whatever asset was left and resorted to debt. The circumstance not only drained her financially but also left her alone in raising her four children. She doubled her efforts and saw an opportunity to earn more and became a seller of soy milk under a private employer in Ilagan City. Through her dedication, she eventually learned the process of soy milk production. In mid-2017, a couple venturing in soy milk processing convinced her to be their processor. With a hope that this opportunity will give her a good break, she accepted the deal. Unfortunately, again the odds were not in her favor. For four months, she struggled to solely process an average of nine kilos of soybeans/eight hundred 800 bottles of soy milk a day and only brought home an average of P200.00 for her efforts.

Then in 2018, the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) brought courage for Ms. Miriam to finally earn commensurate to her efforts. Her spirit of entrepreneurship was re-kindled as she was given the chance to lead the organized association in Barangay Sta. Cruz, the Sweet SLP Association. Along with other eight members they were provided with Seed Capital Fund (SCF) amounting to P165,000.00. Through her initiative, she shared her expertise on soybean processing and the group decided to venture on the project. The SCF was used to purchase raw materials, packaging materials, tools and equipment for the production of soy milk and soy coffee. In a weekly basis they produce an average of 1,400 bottles of soy milk sold at P10.00 each and process an average of eight (8) kilos/ 20 bottles of soy coffee sold at P100.00 each. It translates to a weekly average net income of P4,800.00 for the group which helps each member to meet ends. Particularly for Ms. Miriam who exited from Pantawid since her children were no longer eligible, the project helped her finance their college education. Apart from that, the members earn P200.00 per production for their labor. They distribute their products within the municipality, selected schools in nearby municipalities of San Mariano, Naguilan, Reina Mercedes and Cauayan City. To reach a wider market, they are currently processing their certificate of product registration under the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). The group has already been able to purchase two additional units of freezer from their profits as part of their continuous commitment to expanding their enterprise.

Ms. Miriam’s biggest take away in SLP was the opportunity to prove that her capacities are way bigger than her physical limitations. The endeavour stirred her leadership capabilities and gave her the chance to make a difference. Just like a bean slowly turning to a bud, she defied all the circumstances and gracefully blossomed in her own way and time. ### Written by: Melisen A. Taquiqui, SLP Social Marketing Officer


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