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The story of Regional Kabuhayan Awardee - Individual Category

 Appreciating simple things toward a successful Livelihood: The story of Andrea Benoya, Regional Kabuhayan Awardee - Individual Category

Blessings could have come in simple things, and yet, most of the times we fail to notice them. We could not even recognize them properly and take them as junk and worthless instead. But in reality, in these little things which others think of as trash, is a blessing that brings fortune to the life of others.

In the story of Andrea “Ate Ands” B. Benoya, a resident of Brgy. Labangan, and a mother of six, who would have thought that coconut shells or “bao” which were usually thrown away in the public market can be transformed into some creative handicrafts and eventually would generate income to help the needs of her family?

As she recalls, “Hindi naging madali ang buhay para sa aming pamilya, ako at ang aking asawa ay nagsumikap upang mapagtapos ang aming anim na anak. Sipag, tiyaga, pagiging positibo sa buhay at pananalig sa Diyos, iyan ang pinanghawakan namin upang mapagtagumpayan naming mag-anak ang hamon ng buhay. Sa ngayon, proud kami dahil professional na ang aming mga anak at nang dahil sa bao, unti-unti, naging maayos na ang aming pamumuhay,” (Our family life has not been easy, my husband and I worked hard just to raise and send our children to school. We were able to succeed in our lives through hard work, positivity and faith in the Lord. We are proud to say that through these coconut shells our lives have changed and our children were able to finish their studies and now working as professionals), Ate Ands narrated.

Exploring the business of handicrafts through coconut shells and beads with the assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Ate Ands can produce keychains, pen holders, ref magnets, leis, bags, wallets, cups, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other types of souvenirs, but she feels so hard to reach her target due to insufficient types of equipment. She also narrated that sometimes, she received criticism on the quality of her products.

But instead of giving up, she used all of them as an inspiration to strive more. And this is when she heard about the livelihood project of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) after attending a seminar.

         Going through the process, it was 2017 when Ate Ands finally received her livelihood assistance from DOLE MIMAROPA amounted to P20,000.00.

From the said amount, she was able to buy machines like polisher, borer, and cutter that would help them to produce from 50 pieces of various products to almost 300 pieces and more, and with much better quality - smoother, properly edged, and much marketable. According to her husband Roberto Benoya, with the use of these machineries, they can already accommodate higher volume of orders from their customers.

Moreover, her staff from Hanunuo Tribe of Mangyan who helped her in producing bead products were also grateful since Ate Ands gave them opportunities to earn and able to provide the needs for their studies.

With an income of P800.00 to 2,000.00 per week, now, she could earn at least P5,000.00 - 20,000.00 in just one week, and even more upon meeting the demands of her customers.

Since then, her products were made known and attracted potential buyers on trade fairs she participated in the province and even in Metro Manila. In fact, she regularly supplies her products to some resorts, souvenir shops in mall, LGUs and neighboring provinces thus she was awarded as the 2018 Most Innovative Products on Non-Food Category of DTI MIMAROPA held in Manila.

          Knowing her success in entrepreneurship despite the trying times of her life, DOLE MIMAROPA proudly recognized her as the “Best DOLE Assisted Livelihood Project" in the Individual Category of the 2020 Kabuhayan Awards held on August 5, 2020, at the DOLE Occidental Mindoro Provincial Office, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

      As regional winner, Ate Ands received plaque of recognition and P30,000.00 cash that will augment her handicraft business.

            Provincial Director Bernardo B. Toriano admired her positivity in life and advised her to keep on going and believing, “We just have to find better ways in overcoming obstacles and learn to not dwell on them as much, it’s the hardship that makes us stronger and helps us grow. It might sound senseless, but the best approach would be to be thankful for every difficulty because it gives us a chance to prove ourselves”, he said.

        “Sa DOLE, maraming-maraming salamat sa pagtitiwala at pagkilala sa akin bilang isang indibidwal na nagnenegosyo. Totoong nandito sa bao ang buhay ko, at ng aking buong pamilya, kung para sa iba ito ay walang silbi, ito naman ang nagbibigay ng biyaya sa amin. Lagi lang tayo magtiwala at manalig sa Diyos. Lahat ay ibibigay niya sa atin sa tamang panahon,” Ate Ands said during the awarding. (Thank you very much DOLE for your trust and recognition to me as individual business owner. This scrap coconut shells may be worthless to others but these things are precious to us and really a blessing to our family. We must always have faith in the Lord as He will grant our prayers on the right time)

         DOLE MIMAROPA OIC Regional Director Albert E. Gutib also extended his congratulatory message to Ate Ands as he said “Your life story is truly inspiring and worth sharing. It can also serve as the light in these trying times wherein headlines are mostly about negativities. Congratulations! You really deserve the award.”

         It is no wonder, everyone faces challenges in life, but it's not the obstacle that defines us. Rather, it is the way that we stand up for ourselves and push back against them that ultimately write our character. It all boils down to perseverance and appreciating things around us.

            As we learn to appreciate things which we often think as worthless, Ate Ands surely taught us a lesson here.


End/Gener L. Francisco


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