LEGAZPI CITY, April 25 (PNA) -- A “puto” (rice cake) maker from remote Barangay (village) Balza in Malinao, Albay, who has helped other villagers in her community earn a living as well, is a contender of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bicol in the agency’s nationwide search for “most successful livelihood beneficiary in the individual category.”
Raymond P. Escalante, DOLE-Bicol labor information officer, said the agency’s bet, Wilhelmina Reyes, is an enterprising and hardworking mother of four who ekes out a living making and selling puto, a native fare concocted from rice flour.
He said Reyes used to travel 15 kilometers from her house in Barangay (village) Balza to the nearest city in the province to avail of the services of a rice grinding machine so her rice could be turned into flour, the main ingredient of puto.
Escalante said those were the times when Reyes had to do everything by hand and start at the crack of dawn.
“With only her hands and some from her family, time in puto production has always been the enemy,” he said.
Escalante said Olga Ludovice, livelihood focal person of DOLE Albay Provincial Office, said Reyes had recounted that her travel of 15 kms is equivalent to taking a 30-minute full packed jeepney ride.
“The ride from Balza to the city four times a week can be tiring but I do not have any choice,” Reyes told Ludovice.
Reyes said she had to endure the difficulties because she has four mouths to feed.
In December 2014, however, Reyes was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Program or DILP and was awarded a heavy duty grinding machine that cost PHp13,500. ,p>The livelihood grant resulted in increased production and increased income for Malinao’s puto maker.
Ludovice said out of the increased income, Reyes has managed to buy a generator set and a motor vehicle. The generator set aided in the production especially during those times that power in Reyes’ area was intermittent.
“The grant made a big difference and helped the puto business grow,” Reyes told Ludovice.
Aside from the added machineries and tools, Reyes was also able to generate jobs by way of extending on consignment basis to 20 puto vendors in Barangay Balza.
Ludovice said from Php400 a day, Reyes’ income increased to PHp1,000 a day due to the DILP grant.
Escalante said before Reyes was chosen as bet for the nationwide search, she was honored by DOLE-Bicol as one of the best and most successful entrepreneurs in the Bicol region in its "2016 Oragon Awardees." (PNA)