Meet Isagani. Isagani and his wife live with their extended family quite some distance from our plant. He grew up in a hard-working home with parents who could not go to school. One of six children, Isagani advanced furthest in school – to grade 10.
Isagani left his home to work for years near Manila – 14 hours away. As a young man he worked as a soda delivery boy, and later after marrying he went away to work as an ice cream vendor in Manila – selling and making the ice cream so he could send money home to his family. While working at the food hall of a Manila mall, he realized he could not make enough to support himself AND his family back in Bicol – our area of the Philippines.
Returning home, he worked hard at farming, fishing, and taking any work he could. He sees himself as “life-skilled” in many different trades, and he is a serious-minded hard worker. He raised pigs, sowed and harvested rice, and made “sawali” - woven split bamboo panels used to make the walls for the common thatched-roof home – “Nipa huts”.
But it was barely enough to live on – until he joined Dignity. Isagani has risen to Line Leader of the Supply Department. He oversees a team responsible for coconut tracing, and quality control – sorting out which of the daily 8,000 coconuts meet the standards and can enter the line.
Dignity holds training in managing money, livelihood start-ups, and more. Isagani says that it is because of Dignity that his wife has started a small sari-sari store, selling household items. And the family has also started a small business raising and selling pigs. What was once insufficient income to support them, is now an entrepreneurial supplement to his steady income.