A FORTUNE FROM WATER LILY

“Gusto ko rin ito kasi walang nasasayang. Walang tinatapon. Biruin mo, water lily lang iyan. Kahit saan, meron. Pero nagagawa naming ganito.”

Inside the home of Adelia Jamco in a resettlement site in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City, the scent of dry leaves wafts in the air. On the floor, on the roof, and in every corner of the room are bundles upon bundles of water lily leaves in various shapes and forms – newly harvested, dried, flattened, made as bags or as slippers.

From the look of her busy workplace alone, one could already tell a good micro-entrepreneur success story is about to unfold. It did not use to be this way back in 1999 when the relocation site was barely habitable, muddy, smelly and flood-prone. But this did not dampen the spirit of Adelia, who gambled with her fate like many others when she moved to Manila from Iloilo in 1969.

Mrs. Adelia Jamco

With a P5,000 loan from TSPI, Adelia sold rice and peddled homemade peanut butter. She even went as far as Muñoz Market to sell her products. Her determination paid off years later after attending an extensive six-month livelihood workshop of the City Government of Pasig. Adelia learned how to make hand-woven baskets out of water lily, which thrives in the nearby Pasig River. In line with its initiative to go green, the City promised to buy all the baskets for its Christmas giveaways. Like an astute businessperson, Adelia saw the potential and immediately sought a bigger loan from TSPI.

Today, she gives jobs to more than 100 people who harvest the water lilies, flatten them, and weave them into baskets and slippers. A basket takes an hour to weave and sells for P50 apiece, the cost of a typical paper bag, only more elaborate, environment-friendly and one-of-a-kind. 

Her microenterprise has become a lifeline for her neighbors who offer their services for the extra cash. She delights in the fact that she is able to help out in the community. “May mga pupunta na lang dito sa bahay, sasabihin sa akin, ‘Pwede magtrabaho? Pambili lang ng almusal o tanghalian (There are those who just come over to my house and ask, ‘Could you give me work? Just to buy breakfast or lunch.),'” she says.

That the business makes good use of something deemed worthless is also important to her. “Gusto ko rin ito kasi walang nasasayang. Walang tinatapon. Biruin mo, water lily lang iyan. Kahit saan, meron. Pero nagagawa naming ganito,” she says as she proudly showed one bag with details that rival that of expensive machine-made containers.

Proof of her success is qualifying in the 2010 Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year award. Adelia has also set her sights on expanding her business, including plans to export to Canada. She also plans to invest on apartment buildings, as well as pursue other ventures such as making dishwashing liquids and fabric conditioners.

(You may clink on this video link: Nanay Adelia Jamco Nanay Adelia Jamco on YouTube )

Kung kaya ko pa, bakit ako titigil? Masaya ako. Kumikita akong nasa bahay lang. Lagi akong may ginagawa. Pero ‘pag gusto kong magpahinga, nakakapagpahinga ako (If I can still do it, why stop? I’m happy. I earn while at home. I’m always busy. But when I want to rest, I can because I own my time.),” the 55-year-old micro-entrepreneur says.

No matter how fulfilled and successful she has become, Adelia still yearns of going back to her roots. She says she dreams of buying a van for a RORO trip back to her hometown in Iloilo – a homecoming that took decades in the making, and one that she so richly deserves.

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