TAGUIG CITY — WHEN two men here felt a great financial need, they turned to their wives, proving the resourcefulness of Filipino women even when they are indirectly involved in business.

Take Leticia Marrero, for one, who worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong to prevent her husband from selling a lot that he inherited from his parents.

The couple now owns and operates a resort in the Mountain Province, far north of here where they were awarded by a government-backed group for their inspiring business story.

Thereâ€s also Didi Dayag who went to Kuwait in 1986 and whose salary she received for working as a nurse there helped build more capital for her husband Eugenioâ€s cattle business also in the northern Philippine province of Cagayan.

What the two women had in common was having a focus on the reasons for working abroad and their subsequent decision to come back after having achieved their goals.

Dayag, for one, was able to buy eight hectares of rice land aside from supporting her husbandâ€s ranch expansion.

The Dayags now own a fully mechanized plantation with three tractors, a stockroom, and a solar dryer. These allow the couple to manage fourteen hectares of rice farm, forty-three hectares of sugar cane and seventeen hectares of cassava.

They have also ventured into seed growing.

The coupleâ€s business created jobs for around 68 families relying on seasonal farm work for income.

Marrero, on the other hand, was able to augment her husbandâ€s work as postman, ensuring their children graduated college.

The grasping of a bachelorâ€s degree by her youngest, the last of four children, marked the end of Marreroâ€s stay in a foreign land.

With her savings worth less than a hundred thousand pesos, her family decided to develop their land into a garden resort with three swimming pools, picnic cottages, a lawn tennis court, a playground, and a convenience store.

It was the first of its kind in the province.

“Masaya ako dahil mayroon konting pinagkakakitaan,” Marrero said. “Pag wala na kami, merong maiiwan para sa mga anak ko na naumpisahan na namin mag-asawa.” (Iâ€m happy we have a steady source of income, however small. At least, we could also leave something to our children when we pass away.)

Beginnings

BUILDING a business begins with what you have and what you enjoy doing, Dayag and Marrero said.

Dayagâ€s husband, who is also health officer of Tuguegarao, Cagayanâ€s capital city, said animal husbandry was instilled in his mind since he was young as his father raised cows as business.

Since most farmers didnâ€t own land for pasture that time, we would bring their cattle out in the fields that our family owned, Dayag said.

With savings from working in Saudi Arabia as a medical officer in a stevedoring company, Dayag pursued his interest in cattle-raising.

When I came home after two years, I had a lot of savings because my salary was nearly two thousand dollars a month that time, Dayag said.

He was able to buy eleven cows and a bull and put up a ranching business in Cagayan province. In more than two decades of breeding farm animals, Dayag said they currently have 300 heads of cattle.

For Marreroâ€s part, it was her experience in running a small store and dressmaking shop before working overseas as a domestic helper that nourished her business sense.

It also helped that her husband was earning, too, and performing some maternal roles during her fifteen-year absence in the Philippines.

She also credits her children who opted to establish a family business rather than divide their parentâ€s assets among themselves.

Since they began their resort business, Marrero said the family had provided extra source of income for the children studying in nearby schools.

During Saturdays and Sundays, some of these students would come to help in cleaning the resort, she told the OFW Journalism Consortium (OFWJC) ®.

Marrero said they pay them and treat them to snacks in exchange for their service.

The Dayag couple, on the other hand, said their business was never a source of headache regarding finances and profitability.

We never applied for a loan to augment our capital, Dayag said.

“Ranching is good because you can lean on the business,” Dayag said in Tagalog.

“If you need money, just sell one or two heads Presto!, problem solved,” he added.

Seasons

BUSINESS, however, doesnâ€t run on smooth roads, the Dayag and Marrero families noted.

The Dayag ranch and farm, for one, is on a province where a Maoist insurgency group remains active.

The Dayag couple and their two sons were visited more than once by armed members of this movement asking for their support.

But Eugenio said they offered to give free medical attention and health services to whoever asks for these and when supplies are available, whether those asking said they were insurgents or not.

“Itâ€s my duty to treat sick people, regardless of their ideology,” the medical doctor said.

“Pag may sakit ang pasyente ko tinatanong ko kung anong masakit sa kanila, hindi kung ano ang kanilang paniniwala ” (If people are ill, I ask what ails them, not what their political beliefs are), he added.

In the Mountain Province where the armed insurgency is also active, Marrero never experienced the same worries.

Still, maintaining a resort on top of the mountains was tough, she said.

According to her, the resort only yields seasonal income because customers flock in only during summer months.

“We tolerate the lack of income during off-seasons,” Marrero said in Tagalog, adding that they wait and prepare for the peak months of summer.

Nevertheless, the family has created synergy in their business. Apart from the garden resort, the family owns a banana plantation and a dry goods store.

Even though the family cannot afford to install heaters and other state-of-the art facilities to improve their resort, Marrero said she has achieved a certain bliss.

She continues to pat herself on the back for deciding to work abroad.

Sometimes, I think had I not worked in Hong Kong, we wouldnâ€t have our resort business, Marrero said.

Dayag said saving money and investing on a passion would turn an OFW into a successful entrepreneur.

“You go abroad to earn and at the same time, save. Then when you go back to your country, think of a good investment, something thatâ€s your passion. Because when you love your work, you enjoy your work, nothing would go wrong,” Dayag said. OFW Journalism Consortium

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