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Visiting Kiva Borrowers in Siquijor Island, Philippines

5 Dec

Keith Baillie | KF19 |Philippines

I recently voyaged to Siquijor Island to visit the Larena Office of my Kiva partner, Paglaum Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PMPC). I was accompanied by Lysette, the partner’s Kiva Coordinator (below).

ImageLarena is a 6-hour ferry ride from the PMPC head office in Plaridel, Mindanao, so the ferry provides bunk beds. At the port, children dive to entertain the passengers who throw coins.

ImageSiquijor is a relatively undeveloped island, with fishing and tourism as the predominant industries.

ImageMotorbikes are the transportation of choice on Siquijor. On Wednesday, we ride “habal-habal” (3 or more per bike) to visit our fist Kiva borrowers outside of town. The local office offers Kiva loans predominantly to group members (groups range up to 25). Our visits are unannounced and about half the borrowers are absent – probably at the local barangay (district) fiesta. We track down 4 borrowers:

  • Genie, who runs a “sari-sari” (general) store.
  • Valeriana, who runs a palm wine store and had a loan for a piglet, which she sold.
  • Jeanalie, who buys clothes from her friend in town and sells them locally.
  • Rosalie, who bought a piglet for breeding, which is now pregnant.

ImageWe eventually break for lunch and half the office heads to the local fiesta district to eat at a friend/relative’s house.

ImageOn Thursday, we visit 7 more borrowers:

  • Rufo, Emma, and Michael all took loans to buy new fishing nets.


  • Gloria makes a shrimp/pork condiment called “alamang” and gives me a sample jar.
  • Julita invested in a hog, which is already pregnant.
  • Marelyn sells gasoline (in Coke bottles) to motorcycle and tricycle taxi drivers.
  • Marlyn has a “sari-sari” store.

ImageMy PMPC colleague, Marlon, introduced me to Marelyn and Marlyn at the same time. You can imagine what a mess I got in keeping all the documents and references to the 3 Ms straight.

Thursday afternoon, there is a group loan disbursement in the office. All the members of the group show up and Marlon, lectures them, with good humor, on their responsibilities and distributes their loan schedules.

ImageFriday is a public holiday and there is no boat directly back to Plaridel until Sunday, so I take the ferry to Damaguete on Negros and another to Dapitan on Mindanao. Damaguete was founded by nuns and Dapitan was where the revered Filipino intellectual, Rizal, was exiled to keep him far from political influence. He focused his energies on education and farming improvements and would undoubtedly have supported the contemporary cooperative movement.

ImageFortunately my ferry was bigger than these. This completed my field visit to Siquijor.


Keith’s Blog

25 Jan

As I get older, I have become interested in helping to mitigate the global rich/poor divide. Whilst many aid models seem inefficient and ineffective, I like the Kiva micro-financing approach. Hence I am interested in the Kiva Fellowship program.

I have recently been a volunteer technical writer in the Kiva Technical Operations team at Howard Street. I am a member of the local Oxfam Action Corps. When young, I taught in Kenya for 2.5 years, but then entered commercial employment. I have travelled extensively in developing countries, especially in recent years to South East Asia and the Philippines. During the recent floods in Mindanao, I was actively involved in channeling money to individuals I know who were in emergency shelters.

I can bring the following skills, attitudes and experience:
– am organized
– have good written and verbal communication skills
– have computer skills (Excel, Word, Wiki, etc)
– can teach/train
– have managed people (10 years)
– have worked in foreign countries (including Africa and Middle East)
– am sensitive and genuinely interested in other culturesImage