By Stephanie (Zheng Jiayi)
No matter excitement or homesickness, my first week in Philippines has just gone, with the company of those nice and inspiring people.
My new homestay, as I have mentioned in my last blog, is hosted by a lovely elder lady Gloria, her daughter Marison and Marian, and also two adorable grandchildren, Ronelyn and Johnmark. They are very hospitable and generous, especially when I found they indeed slept on the floor and left the bedroom for us, which made me feel more than grateful towards their kindness. Their two kids are too cute! Everyday they enjoy the game of hugging me and giggling! Another highlight of this week is to celebrate my host family’s neighbor’s birthday together! Though I don’t drink, I still tried some local beers, which I felt is a little bit bitter. People sang and danced to celebrate her birthday, laughter burst out in this peaceful village. In Guimaras you can see how tightly linked the neighborhood is. Many people are relatives to each others, working on agriculture is the most common and basic jobs here. People start to work as the sunrise, get home after the sunset. Here, you will see strangers waving and smiling to you. The purity of people here really freshened up my day.
In the first week, my partner and I got chance to meet our business: Gerly’s pig farm, though we did not have enough time talk to the owner, exploring the whole picture of the pork market here is still exciting. On the first day, Gerly introduced the whole structure and the construction process of her farm. Though sows are not yet in her farm and the well is still under construction, basically things went smoothly. She was lucky to get financial support from a rich man, from the help of which she now has enough money to finish her preparing stage. We first asked for her cost records and put them into an excel sheet, which can clearer show her cash flow. Though keeping everything on the time base is fine, it is better to introduce the new and easy accounting matrix to manage more frequent cash flow in the future. The day after finishing accounting job, my partner Ricky and I began to do our market research. We want to figure out the growing cycle and habits of pigs. This is really a huge topic since we have to study the different fodders of pigs, the needed vaccination, the cleansing of their dirt, how can the piglets suck their mother’s milk and what is price for different parts of pork, etc. To collect all those information we need, we got up so early around 5:30 in the morning to visit the local public market. The very new experience of my time in Philippines!
Honestly speaking, despite being a Chinese whose dinner tables are usually filled with pork-made dishes, I have never thought of working with pigs and I admitted that I don’t like those flies and smell in pig farms. However, gradually I got used to it and enjoyed our talking to those peasants as they inspired us a lot. We are now trying to calculate the market absorption and draw out the map of pig farms in the village. According to our knowledge, the total consumption of pork is approximately 360 heads of pigs per year. The butcher bought pigs from nearby peasants who raise pigs, unfortunately, the market may already achieve its saturation. Therefore, we are still thinking about the ways to help Gerly better compete and profit in this pork market. It is the motivation of our hard work in the coming two weeks.
It indeed was joyful to work in this tropical island, as my partner and I everyday walked around, enjoying the beautiful view and also grating to those hospitable people. Though we suffered from sunburn and disliked the heat, the process that we got involved in our work and interacted with locals is highly treasured.
This Sunday is the Philippines Independence Day, several friends and I traveled to Iloilo again to do some shopping and sightseeing. On the way to the peers, we got on a small van, whose busload is only 8 people. Contrastively and a little bit scarily, we finally got 27 people in the small van! Despite being really dangerous for the traffic, we discussed about this situation and how the poor economy works on our way. Due to the limited material conditions and the seek of low prices, people here have to suffer its safety and squeeze themselves with others in a small van when traveling. If the driver wants to raise price or the government becomes stricter with the traffic control, poor customers will be reluctant to pay and then may turn to other vehicles, like Jeepneys or motorcycles. Our discussion is heated and inspiring but we cannot think out a way to help local people to build up the safety consciousness and as well ensure their economic well-beings. Maybe the final way to eradicate those conditions in the long run is to eradicate poverty. With better education and welfare, people may become more aware of things like safety and health.
There are still two weeks ahead; despite sometimes felt difficult to tackle the current difficulties in our business, with enthusiasm and confidence, I wish we can really make something different for Gerly’s pig farm!
(Cute baby in my host family!)