Patience yields a harvest of opportunities

October 25, 2023

Patience yields a harvest of opportunities
The scenic town of Banaue, Ifugao is home to ITALIANA, an association dedicated to food processing who recently became a beneficiary of an oven donated by AboitizPower subsidiary SNAP-Magat.

In the scenic landscape of Banaue, Ifugao, where time-honored traditions merge with contemporary challenges, a group of enterprising farmers formed "ITALIANA" — a small food processing association with dreams as vast as the rice fields that stretch before them.

These dedicated farmers once grappled with the limitations of traditional methods and scarce resources. But thanks to Aboitiz Power Corporation's (AboitizPower) support through its unit SN Aboitiz Power-Magat (SNAP-Magat), their story has transformed into a testament of resilience, collaboration, and shared prosperity.

Noemi Thomas, ITALIANA’s president, recalls those early days, when they had to exercise costly patience in waiting for their products to dry.

Noong wala pang tulong ang AboitizPower, mahirap dahil kailangan naming maghintay talaga ng tatlong araw (Before AboitizPower provided assistance, it was difficult because we had to wait for three days),” she said. “At noong wala pa ‘yung oven, sayang ang mga araw na sana’y nakakapag-produce na kami. Nasasayang ang oras namin sa paghihintay na ma-dry ‘yung mga produkto (When the oven was not yet available, we wasted days that could’ve been used for production. We wasted time waiting for the products to dry).”

Little did they know that their patience would soon be rewarded with the generosity of a much needed helping hand.


ITALIANA president Noemi Thomas (right) and other members of the association explore new product lines like native rice cookies (pictured above) as the oven frees up more time and expands the types of products they can produce.

Timely assistance

In January 2022, AboitizPower stepped in to offer support through SNAP-Magat’s “Partnership in Uplifting Upland Natural Resources, Livelihood, and Assets” project, or PUNLA. This collaborative effort with the provincial government of Ifugao held the promise of nurturing the land and the livelihoods of its inhabitants — bringing a renewed sense of hope to the community.

PUNLA's initiative was multifaceted, embracing sustainability, supporting agricultural production, enhancing harvest processing, and creating pathways for livelihood opportunities in the province.

Much like its English translation ‘seedling,’ PUNLA promises to grow even more. Hopefully, from this milestone will also come livelihood and enterprise development opportunities for the communities within the watershed throughout the rest of the project's implementation," said SNAP-Magat President and CEO Joseph S. Yu.

SNAP, beyond championing renewable energy, embodies a mission to empower Filipino communities, promote self-sustainability, and improve lives so that more families can have a brighter and more resilient future.

Beyond business

ITALIANA constitutes four sitios where its members hail from — Itanungon, Talboc, Ibayong, and Awaan. ITALIANA is more than just a business; it is a tightly knit family, where the bonds of camaraderie extend far beyond its association members, reaching out to embrace the surrounding communities.

For Noemi and other members, ITALIANA inspired them to explore untapped potential and venture into new enterprises.

“'Yung ibang members namin, gusto nila dati na tumutulong-tulong lang pero noong natuto na sila, nakakapag work na sila sa baking (Some of our members used to prefer just helping out, but when they learned, they are now capable of working in baking)," Noemi shared.

Efficiency and productivity soared for ITALIANA with the new oven, as it reduced their previous three-day drying period for produce like turmeric and ginger to just 30 minutes. This newfound efficiency led to increased production and income. The hours previously wasted from waiting now turned into productive moments of finding ways to further explore new product lines.

Elsie Kimmayong, the association's treasurer, expressed gratitude for the blessing the oven brought to their lives. “Simula noong naging beneficiary kami ng PUNLA, mas kaunti ang nasasayang na oras at mas maraming bagay ang aming nagagawa (Since becoming a beneficiary of PUNLA, less time is wasted, and more tasks are accomplished)," she said.

Soon, members of ITALIANA found that time was no longer an “obstacle” but a valuable “ally.” Time is now used efficiently. With this, they witnessed a significant increase in their income, which supported daily expenses and improved their quality of life.

Kumpara noon, mas malaki na ‘yung nadadagdag sa aming kita at ‘yung kinikita ay ginagamit sa daily expenses lalo na sa kusina (Compared to before, there's a significant increase in our income, and what we earn is used for daily expenses, especially in the kitchen),” Elsie explained.

Harvest of opportunities

With gratitude, Elsie pledged that ITALIANA will take care of their plantation and oven as an expression of their appreciation for SNAP's unwavering support that has brought tremendous positive change in the lives of their people.

“Nawa’y ipagpatuloy pa nila (SNAP) ang ginagawa nila na ganitong programa dahil sila ay lumalapit at talagang tinutulungan ‘yung mga tulad naming nasa laylayan at malalayong lugar (I hope SNAP will continue with this program because these really reach us and genuinely help those like us in the marginalized and rural areas),” Noemi said.

The story of ITALIANA demonstrates how sustainable forms of support can bring about positive change in communities. With the power of collaboration, it’s now time for the farmers of ITALIANA to reap a bountiful harvest!

This article was written by Angelo A. Sanchez for Manila Bulletin.

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