Hamida Ordonez, 43 started her life in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay Province. When she was younger, her family moved to Isabela City since her father worked as a logging driver.

Hamida married Sanny, 46 and recounted the days when their life was too difficult to bear. Their humble dwelling is made of make shift hut, in the upper regions of Isabela, Kapayawan. Their life was hard and challenging where it came to the point that the only meal served in their table was boiled banana with garlic and onions. Amid the struggles of having a family at a very young age, Hamida still managed to attend school. She walked for several kilometers from Kapayawan, the farthest and most critical area, to the city proper where she tried to finish high school.

Unfortunately, she had to leave her family in search of better opportunities. In the early 2000s, she decided to work overseas and leave her children with her husband. Things became better, whatever she earned overseas, she sent back to her husband, and they used it for their children. Sanny managed their finances very well and set aside some amount to be used for business. In 2004, Hamida came back to Isabela and continued her studies. Whatever was left of the money they set aside, they used for their needs, and also invested in a small “sari-sari” store business. After years juggling between being a mother, a wife, a student, and a vendor, in 2009, she finally graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Elementary Education at Claret College of Isabela.

In 2013, she started a business selling fishballs and tempura near a local school. This was also the year when PAMANA was introduced to them. One day, a Project Development Officer (PDO) and their Barangay Chairman went to her and asked her to select 30 beneficiaries. Fifteen for the Pantawid Program, and another Fifteen women.

Hamida was hesitant and told their chairman about it. She was afraid because it involved money and she never wanted to have to do anything with money. She was afraid of having the responsibility of having to handle a huge amount of money. But still the chairman chose her to be the leader of the group. She still insisted not to take responsibility, but the chairman told her, if she would not be the leader, then they would not push through with this project. This was when she decided to take the risk because she also wanted to help the other people in the group, to uplift the status of their lives.

Hamida and the group then started their own meetings and decided on which business they wanted to push through, they had to consider many things and one of the most difficult aspects was their distance from the city proper where they had to get their stocks from. To add to the difficulty, more than the distance, they also had trouble since there were no decent roads from their area to the city. The group had regular meetings and some of the members were starting to become reluctant, they were arguing that the project was not legitimate and was only done because elections were fast approaching. The members thought that this was propaganda and that this was a form of campaign. Hamida explained to them that they needed to wait, that they needed to undergo the process and that members needed to go through seminars. But the members grew even more reluctant as days passed.

February of 2014, long after the elections, the cheque was finally released to the group, but even then, the members were still unconvinced and things got a little out of hand. The members accused Hamida of stealing their money since she could not show the money to them yet. She was accused of having spent the money for “shopping” and even their new barangay chairman believed on this. Again, she had to call a meeting to explain to the members that the money was not to be distributed to them just yet. She explained to them that they needed to open a bank account named after the association. They then tried to open their own account and deposit their capital fund. They needed a lot of requirements and payments to be able to do this, but since the group did not have actual money yet, Hamida used her own money to pay for the fees and all the expenses to be able to process their application. The group also needed to ask for certification from DOLE to be able to start their business; this was given to them after several weeks from application.

After all the necessary processes were fulfilled and approved, they started the construction of their business. They began construction of their business beside the Ordonez’s residence; they had the help from an engineer from the City Hall. During the construction of the building, the members had “bayanihan”, they helped each other build their business which lessened their expenses to 75,000pesos. The construction did not take a month to finish, and they started to follow up on other needs for the business. They had bidding for the suppliers of the business and they followed the required processes. They also decided and assigned procurement officer, a bookkeeper; business manager, inventory officer and all of the officers fit their job description.

June 21, 2014, when all requirements and all papers were accomplished, they finally opened their business. They spent 209,000pesos for both the building and supplies. The store opens at 7AM and closes at 6PM. They took turns in managing the store and they were given 50pesos each, they needed 2 staff during operations apart from the secretary who needed to be there every day. On the first month of business, they earned 80,000pesos. They had regular meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, and agreed that their income will be equally divided after 6months.
They also practice the act of giving, when a family member belonging to the barangay dies, they offer snacks and other commodities to the family as well as for the people who come to visit and vigil.

Hamida’s association is doing good and have been a reliable source of help for the members of the association, as well as their community. It has given the members extra income which they badly need, at the same time the community is having the benefit of convenience especially for their needs, from textiles to school supplies and other basic needs. The association has an average of 50,000pesos per month and still expanding. They are now venturing into the cassava business. They already purchased the basics for cassava production and also a carabao.

Up to this day, Hamida invites other people to join them in their association in her quest to help others uplift their life the same way the association has done for her.

“malaki po talaga ang pasasalamat namin sa DSWD in behalf of Kapayawan kase lahat po kame natulungan. Laking pasasalamat na may programa silang ganyan, pantawid at PAMANA.”