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I met my Boholana beauty, Miss C, a couple of years ago in Lapu-Lapu. While she was visiting me in Singapore early last year, the topic of her parents' financial security came up. She said that she felt the financial help she was giving to her parents (about P5k per month) was not really helping them in the long term. She wanted to set her parents up so that they would be reasonably financially secure in the longer term without further help from her.

 

C's family are a poor fishing family in a small village outside of Buenavista, Bohol. It was decided that we should investigate buying a motorised fishing boat for her papa. I then spent time explaining to C that whatever we did had to be self-sustaining, otherwise there would not be the security she desired for her parents.

 

Further investigation found that this new motorised fishing boat was going to cost up to P20k. I told Miss C that if she saved half the money, I would contribute the rest. Next step was for C to open her first bank account. This she did with guidance from my bank manager in Cebu. Six months later Miss C had her P10k saved. I was proud of her.

 

Now before going further into this venture, I needed some facts and figures about Miss C's papa's fishing business. Papa came over to Lapu-Lapu so that we could chat on YM with Miss C translating. I asked papa about-

  • How much he made from fishing now with his paddle fishing boat (about P200 to P300 per day that he went fishing).
  • How many days each year would he go fishing (200 to 250).
  • How much he expected to make and why, if he had a motorised fishing boat (about P400 to P600 per day that he wet fishing because he could travel faster to the fishing grounds and spend more time there and he could also get to better fishing grounds that were further out to sea).
    What would be the life expectancy of a motorised fishing boat (about 5 to 7 years).
  • How much fuel would he use each day fishing (1 to 2 litres)
  • What about maintenance, both boat and motor (he could maintain the boat and had a friend who could help him with engine maintenance).

With this information I did a quick business plan. It showed that papa's nett income from having a motorised fishing boat would increase by at least P3k to P5k per month.

 

I then told papa that we will buy him a new motorised fishing boat, however he must first agree to repay us at a rate of P6K every 3 months for 12 months. This took some convincing. I was a "rich foreigner" so he thought that I should just give him the boat. It took Miss C some convincing until she finally persuaded her papa to accept the agreement.

 

The 7m long boat was bought last September. First repayment (P7k) was received end of December. Next repayment (P6k) was received end of March. The latest repayment (P7k) was received end of June. We are now waiting on our final payment of P4k at the end of September this year. The boat will then belong to papa.

 

Since we papa got his new fishing boat, Miss C has stopped sending money to her parents and has been saving a few thousand pisos each month. She has also enrolled her parents in (and pays for) their PhilHealth membership to help cover those "medical emergencies".

 

Next year we are looking to buy a new motorised fishing boat for Miss C's eldest brother (also a fisherman). This will be under the same arrangement that we had with her papa. Her whole family live on land owned by her aunt. The idea is that with more motorised fishing boats in the family, Miss C's siblings can better look after their parents in their older age.

 

Miss C is now saving to buy herself a motor scooter and to move into a better apartment.

 

All this took was some seed money on my part, teaching Miss C about saving and the benefits, together with Miss C learning some basic business analysis skills.

 

Here is Miss C's papa and her brother on "our" motorised fishing boat. The little blue paddle boat in the background is the type papa use to use when he went fishing.

post-3555-1218412385_thumb.jpg

Edited by RBS
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The Mason

Micro-lending like this is the best way to help people. There is so much talk on this forum about scammers, lazy Filipinos and failed attempts to assist family members. Thanks for posting your success story. It provides a more positive, and in my experience realistic, view of Filipinos.

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I salute you. Good investigation and so on. I hope that all works out. I, sadly, just rolled over. I don't expect it to be perpetuating. I guess I don't think I will change years of life style and culture in a short time. But, hearing you describe daddy's surprise when he had to "pay back" the loan to a rich kano did bring a smile to my heart. My sweet Cebuana would ask her family to pay me back but she'd be much ashamed since that isn't the way it is done. Yeah, yeah. But she does look out for me other than that.

 

Now back to your sweetie's family. Since that they can fish farther from shore now, got a question for you. Can they swim? You'd be amazed at the number of folks making a living on the water here that don't swim. And do they have life preservers of floats of any sort, just in case? I can think of a couple of women that were widowed quite young when their fisherman husbands never came back. Maybe for Christmas, you can treat them to a couple of float cushions. Good to sit on and something to cling to if things go astray.

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Thank you.

 

I have had a few failures over the past 10 years with helping some of the poorer Filipinos. This did not put me off helping others, when it was within my means. I believe that most Filipinos are actually hard working and honest, however to have success in helping, I needed to gain a much better appreciation of their local culture. This learning process has been slow but is now starting to show results. I still have a lot to learn.

 

Just recently I was chatting with Miss C, telling her how important it was to save regularly with her bank account. She was unaware that banks will lend out money. She just thought that banks just kept her money in their safe until she needed it and the best place to "borrow" money was the pawn shop.

 

I explained to Miss C how banks work in lending money (her money) and charging interest on the loan (like we made P4k interest on buying the new fishing boat for her papa) so the bank could pay her interest on her savings. I also explained to her how the bank will look at her savings record and see what she is regularly saving. Then, if she applies for a bank loan (with repayments much cheaper than a pawn shop), the bank can see that she can afford to make the repayments.

 

All this was new to Miss C. It is amazing the basic financial knowledge that we take for granted is totally unknown to many Filipinos.

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Bob Ward
Micro-lending like this is the best way to help people. There is so much talk on this forum about scammers, lazy Filipinos and failed attempts to assist family members. Thanks for posting your success story. It provides a more positive, and in my experience realistic, view of Filipinos.

 

Everyone's mileage may vary since they all have different scenarios to live. There are definitely good Filipinos about. Some who might take advantage of you are not necessarily bad. They are just caught up in the ideas that a foreigner is a resource to be milked for cash or goods. For every good story like this one there are 10 that go the opposite way. Unfortunate, but true.

 

Hooray for Papa!!!

Edited by Bob Ward
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.... got a question for you. Can they swim? ....

I was also interested in the safety aspect of the family's fishing business. Papa has taught all his children to swim. No one is allowed from his family onto a fishing boat before they have learned to swim.

 

As for personal floatation devices, their theory is that the boats are made of timber (including bamboo) that would never sink. That I partially agree with however floating cushions could be a good Christmas present this year.

 

I am also interested in getting papa a compass as he does fish for squid at night. I expect that I will also have to train him in the proper use of such a high tech device. :o

 

BTW, since getting the new fishing boat, Miss C's family have added a covered porch and another room to their bahay kubo (thatched bamboo house). Last week the family bought their first cell phone, a new Nokia 1100 for just over P1,600. They are really starting to experience some benefits in their changing lives. My business terms have not made it easy for the family over the past 12 months, but they are now appreciating what we have done for them. Papa is very proud that he now (almost) owns his own motorised fishing boat.

Edited by RBS
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Everyone's mileage may vary since they all have different scenarios to live. There are definitely good Filipinos about. Some who might take advantage of you are not necessarily bad. They are just caught up in the ideas that a foreigner is a resource to be milked for cash or goods. For every good story like this one there are 10 that go the opposite way. Unfortunate, but true.

I agree with you Bob, but I honestly think that most of the time we foreigners bring failure upon ourselves. To be successful in any business (including with Filipinos) you need to put yourself in their shoes and try to think like they would. That is where a good understanding of the local's culture comes into play.

 

I have learned this the very hard and expensive way.

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Bob Ward
Everyone's mileage may vary since they all have different scenarios to live. There are definitely good Filipinos about. Some who might take advantage of you are not necessarily bad. They are just caught up in the ideas that a foreigner is a resource to be milked for cash or goods. For every good story like this one there are 10 that go the opposite way. Unfortunate, but true.

I agree with you Bob, but I honestly think that most of the time we foreigners bring failure upon ourselves. To be successful in any business (including with Filipinos) you need to put yourself in their shoes and try to think like they would. That is where a good understanding of the local's culture comes into play.

 

I have learned this the very hard and expensive way.

 

The way you went about it is a good example of how to help someone help themselves. You are absolutely correct that the approach a foreigner uses to try and help people has everything to do with the success of the endeavor. Many of the typical business and lending practices here are scary at best. Showing them a better way by adapting the help to the local environment is the best way I can think of!!!

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Thank you.

 

I have had a few failures over the past 10 years with helping some of the poorer Filipinos. This did not put me off helping others, when it was within my means. I believe that most Filipinos are actually hard working and honest, however to have success in helping, I needed to gain a much better appreciation of their local culture. This learning process has been slow but is now starting to show results. I still have a lot to learn.

 

Just recently I was chatting with Miss C, telling her how important it was to save regularly with her bank account. She was unaware that banks will lend out money. She just thought that banks just kept her money in their safe until she needed it and the best place to "borrow" money was the pawn shop.

 

I explained to Miss C how banks work in lending money (her money) and charging interest on the loan (like we made P4k interest on buying the new fishing boat for her papa) so the bank could pay her interest on her savings. I also explained to her how the bank will look at her savings record and see what she is regularly saving. Then, if she applies for a bank loan (with repayments much cheaper than a pawn shop), the bank can see that she can afford to make the repayments.

 

All this was new to Miss C. It is amazing the basic financial knowledge that we take for granted is totally unknown to many Filipinos.

Aplaus.gif

 

Very well written!

 

 

Harry

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JohninCebu

Thanks for the story RBS, you have made my day. All I would say is that it may be nice to forgo the interest, or allow Miss C to decide whether she saves it or not. I appreciate this will reduce the business aspects of the assistance - perhaps a compass or new nets.

 

Well done and hope the family will spread the word and prosper. With papa's attutude it could help the local village no end if others were prepared to follow his lead. Perhaps Miss C has the starting of a business here.

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twostrokes

RBS...Good Job.....glad to hear things have worked out.....One other thing you might start working on with them....

If the life expectancy of the boat is 5-7 years....why not teach them to set up a side fund to replace the asset (the boat)... figure php 500 a month. That way in 5 years he will have enough to cover a new boat with the increase in cost that surly will come along...Otherwise, your good plan that is presently successful will die a natural death in 5-7 years...especially if he gets a little lax on the maintainence....along the way.

 

I like others who have had many failures are sure glad to hear of a success....

Jim

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....One other thing you might start working on with them....

If the life expectancy of the boat is 5-7 years....why not teach them to set up a side fund to replace the asset (the boat)... figure php 500 a month. ....

Jim

 

We have already taken that into account. There are three brothers in the family who are all fishermen. At present they are using paddle boats.

 

Next year we buy a new motorised boat for the eldest son under the same arrangement. The following year we intend to do the same for the next and the year after the same for the youngest. After that, papa should be ready for a new boat so we will start again.

 

It is just too difficult for these simple people to comprehend saving over a five-year period. Most provincial Filipinos only think month to month. It was difficult enough to get papa to plan and budget for his quarterly repayments. I think a five-year plan is just beyond their comprehension.

 

The reason we included P4k interest in the repayments was to allow for the ever increasing costs of a new boat. We expect that the eldest son's new boat will cost well over P20k. We needed to keep this as an ongoing business success. These Filipinos do not really understand the concept of interest on a loan. All they look at is being able to make the repayments to keep what they have. All part of their local culture.

 

Papa's fishing use to consist solely of catching squid with a line jigger and light at night. Last Christmas Miss C purchased a fishing net (P8k from her savings) for her papa. This also noticeably increased her papa's income.

 

A lot of thought and cultural understanding has gone into this small venture.

Edited by RBS
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It was an easy situation to start with. He already worked every day and made a good income. Good set up to help him even more. I am just wondering why Miss C had to give them 5,000/month if he already made a relatively good income. Here comes my doubt about the whole story. How could she afford to pay 5,000/month to her father who already had a relatively good income. Why did they need you? I don't get it. The story is not believable in my opinion. Sorry to spoil the party.

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I have just been chatting with Miss C. She now has a little over P45k saved up in her bank account. She has decided to finance her mama P5k into setting her up in a small business cooking and selling some of the family's fresh seafood in the local Buenavista markets. Mama will need to repay at P500 per month for 12 months.

 

This girl may be a keeper. I might marry her one day :shocked: .

 

BTW, I told Miss C that her saving must be kept strictly secret form her family and all of her "friends". She understands why.

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.... I am just wondering why Miss C had to give them 5,000/month if he already made a relatively good income. ....

Miss C earns about P10k to P15k per month in Cebu. The father's income (about P40k to P50k per year) and that of his three sons has to support a family of over 20 people. Miss C provided P3k to P5k per month to help her family. It is the Filipino way to provide support to your parents, even if they don't really need it.

 

Again, it is a cultural thing. Those in the know will understand.

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