Naga City, Camarines Sur - Every one of us encounters hardships in our lives, but when someone with disability is able to overcome all the adversities and still finds optimism, it becomes a piece of good news.
Such is the case of Fe Caraza of Barangay Panicuason, this city, who earned her first million despite her disability. It took her a lot of commitment and a completely ‘no-fear’ attitude to achieve success.
Fe’s turning point came when she focused on selling nutritious food like soya bread, milk, carrot juice, veggie meat, tokwa, and malungay polvoron.
“Salamat sa Diyos, kung ano ako ngayon ay dahil sa tiyaga lang po (Thanks to God, what I have now is through my perseverance),” she proudly said.
The disabilities she faced
Becoming an entrepreneur is not an easy task, but Fe has managed to make her business successful despite her condition.
“Nagkaroon po ako ng acute psychiatric nerve injury, pero tinanggap ko yun, hindi ko ginawang hadlang ang kapansanan ko. Naisip kong magtrabaho kesa sa walang ginagawa. Kaya naman nagsimula ako na magtinda ng mga gulay para kumita (I had an acute psychiatric nerve injury but I accepted it and did not allow this to hamper my productivity. I thought of working rather than doing nothing. So, I started selling vegetables to earn),” she said.
After a few years, Fe was engrossed in earning more money to grow her business.
With that, she failed to find time for her family.
“Nabuntis ng asawa ko ang katulong namin sa bahay. Galit na galit ako, pero inataman ko su aki ninda halos duwang taon ta kairak man, wara man kasalan su aki (My husband got our helper pregnant. I was so mad but I took care of their child for almost two years because I pitied the child. He has nothing to do with their sin),” she stated.
Fe and her husband eventually separated. Fe was left alone to take care of her four children.
“Nagdadasal ako kasi yung mga anak ko malungkot sila. Pero maganda din na mag-isa lang ako, dahil nalalaman ko yung kakayanan ko. Mas maraming oras ko na nayayakap mga anak ko at nasasabihan ko sila ng problema (I keep praying because my children are sad. But, it’s also good that Im alone, because I am able to know my strength. I also have more time to hug my children and I can talk to them about my problems),” she said.
Although struggling, Fe defied the odds and remained positive in order to provide the needs of her children.
“Noon ang hirap, from Panicuason ay 18 kilometers to Naga City kong minomotor. Nagbibitbit, naglalako ako ng mga produkto sa mga opisina kahit umuulan o tirik ang araw (Before, it was so hard. Rain of shine, I drove 18 kilometers from Panicuason to Naga City with my motorcycle to sell products in offices),” she recalled.
It was even harder for Fe whose right leg is paralyzed when her motorcycle broke down in one of her trips.
“‘Yung mga tao tinitingnan ako. Si Ma’am Lenny Robredo nakita rin ako na kailangan kong iikot yung sarili kong patalikod para paandarin yung motor. Ewan ko kung natuwa siya sa akin o naawa siya pero tinulungan niya ako sa aking negosyo (People were looking at me. Ma’am Lenny Robredo also saw how I struggled to start the motorcycle using my left leg to kick and pedal. I am not sure if she was amazed or she just pitied me but she helped me with my business),” she said.
In order to sustain the needs of her children, she continued to explore new things for her business.
She focused on making nutritious food, experimenting by adding 20% of soya pulp in her products.
Her business took a positive turn when she joined the GROW Negosyo (growing opportunities), a project of the local government providing capital assistance to micro and macro entrepreneurs in the city.
In 2010, she was awarded as “Maugmang Nagenya”, an award provided by the local government to individuals who have attained success despite all the struggles in life.
It was on the same year as well when the local government chose her nutritious products to be the main dish in the Supplementary Feeding program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Halos P20,000 a day ang kinikita ko na noon in 60 days. (I was earning almost P20,000 a day at that time for 60 days),” she said.
She then made her first P1.2-million sales.
“Sa pangatlong kontrata ko sa Supplementary Feeding, masayang masaya ako sa oportunidad na naipagkaloob sa akin ng Diyos at sa mga taong tumulong sa akin (With my third contract in the Supplementary Feeding, I am so happy with the opportunity given to me by God and the the people who helped me),” she added.
Now, instead of using a motorcycle, she was able to buy an owner-type jeepney to deliver her products.
She was also able to build two concrete houses.
“Yung isa po ay bakery na namin. May mga equipment na rin ako sa paggawa ng bread (One of my houses was converted into a bakery shop. I also have an equipment to produce bread),” Fe happily related.
In addition, she was able to set up a Grow Negosyo Stall.
“Dito lang po sa stall ay nakakabenta ako ng P2,000 a day bukod sa aming bakery (Here in the stall, I am able to earn P2,000 a day apart from my earnings in our bakery),” she enthused.
Returning the blessings
Fe is proud to say that as part of caring for the needs of fellow persons with disabilities (PWDs), she employed the parents of child-PWDs in the village.
“Nakikita ko po ang pag-angat nila dahil nabigyan sila ng trabaho (I saw their improvement because they were provided with jobs),” she said.
Two out of the nine employees in her bakery are also beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the conditional cash transfer program implemented by DSWD.
Fe said that she wanted to be an inspiration to others, especially to her fellow PWDs.
“Kailangan lang pong maging masipag. Huwag nating gawing dahilan ang ating kapansanan. Magpasalamat pa tayo dahil buhay tayo (We need to be industrious. Let us not allow our disability to hinder us from being productive. Thank God that we are alive),” she remarked.
Fe stressed that being prayerful, hardworking, and kind to your loved ones and to other people are the exact ingredients for success. ###