As a leader, Maricel takes pride in what their group was able to achieve six years after they started their livelihood project.

Maricel Obviar, 43, is the president of Bulihan Cuatro Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) Association, a group of 24 former and current beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) who are farmers, sewers, and laborers in Brgy. Bulihan, San Antonio, Quezon. 

Their association was organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under the SLP in 2017 and received PhP 240,000 seed capital fund for the establishment of a group micro-enterprise to help them engage in additional income-generating activities.

According to Maricel, their association decided to open a general merchandise store in their barangay as their municipal market is far from their area. This not only guarantees them regular customers but this will also help the residents of their barangay conveniently buy most of their basic needs.

Using the seed capital fund, they purchased a 40 square-meter lot, building materials for the construction of their store, and their initial inventory such as grocery items, chicken feeds, and school supplies.

When the construction of their store was completed, they began operating from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily and each member took turns taking duty. 

“‘Yung training po namin sa basic bookkeeping bago kami nagsimula ng negosyo, nagagamit po namin sa paglilista ng mga items namin para sa maayos na inventory,” said Maricel, who added that this helped them run their store smoothly.

Every month, their store’s estimated income is PhP 6,000, which they regularly deposit in their bank account.

Despite their good income, Maricel admitted that they also encountered problems or difficulties that often go with operating a store.

“Noon po, nagtitinda kami ng mga prutas pero itinigil na namin kasi madaling masira. Minsan naman, may mga  itlog po na nabili pero mga sira na. Nakakapanghinayang po. Sayang ang benta,” Maricel shared.

Aside from this, there were also times when not all of the members were able to take part in their responsibilities in the store. Even Maricel, who started as a determined leader, admitted to wanting to quit as well.

“Noon po gusto ko nang magresign bilang president dahil po sa mga responsibilidad. Mas madali pong maging member na lang,” Maricel sadly mentioned.

But, Maricel remained hopeful and found inspiration in the desire of the remaining members to earn income for their families. From the 24 original members, there are 14 members who stayed with  the group and are moving forward in taking care of the business they started.

“Mahalaga sa grupo na may tiwala sa isa’t isa. Para na kaming magkakapatid, at minamahal namin itong aming negosyo gaya ng pagmamahal sa sarili,” shared Maricel.

Now, six years after the Bulihan Cuatro SLP Association was organized, the group’s livelihood project is still operational. The group has also expanded their business and ventured into money lending. They also purchased sewing machines for the members, which each member pays in monthly installments.

Last December 2023, each member received Php 16,100 in dividends, which they freely used to support their respective families. 

“‘Yung sa akin, ginamit kong pambili ng makina. Kung dati, nanghihiram lang po ako ng makina para sa pananahi, ngayon po ay may sarili na akong makina na mapagkakakitaan ko rin,” Maricel happily remarked.

Today, Maricel does not worry about their everyday finances. She even shared that even if she graduates as a beneficiary of the 4Ps, she will not worry much as she knows she has other sources of income.

As of February 8, 2024,  Bulihan Cuatro SLP Association’s total assets is roughly about 50 percent more than the seed capital fund they received.  This includes estimated store inventories, cash on hand, sewing machines, store credit, and bank savings. Further, the Association plans to add  a second floor in their store where they intend to set up a sewing shop.

With all the things that the group had gone through, Maricel, looking at where they are, knows that everything was worth the experience.
“Proud na proud po ako na maging benepisyaryo ng SLP,” Maricel happily expressed. (with reports from MMCasabuena)