In the midst of fanfare, glamor and glistening lights of the now becoming famous Panay Christmas Village, there are Pan-ayanons who are earning extra income because of the event. It was a decision made by Mayor Felipe B. Barredo to give preference to the members of Sulong Poblacion Association to sell food items in the venue. They are beneficiaries of the livelihood program of the DSWD and the Municipality of Panay and during the Ceremonial Lighting and Opening Ceremonies on November 18, 2016, they gained gross income ranging from P3,000.00 to P8,000.00 in just one night of selling.
Melinda Laguna is a 26-year old mother of two daughters and is a college undergraduate who took BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She is married for four years to Rommel Laguna who currently works at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She lives at Poblacion Tabuc, Panay, Capiz. She is one of those who were selected as beneficiaries of the Food Processing Training provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Municipal Government of Panay under the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB) partnership. During the opening ceremonies, she got a gross income of P8,000.00 and earned net income of P6,000.00 for selling food items in the venue.
Most of us might consider having a husband who is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is always good, but in her case the monthly allotment sent by her husband is not enough to provide for the family. She lives with her mother who is a Pantawid sa Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and wanting so much to find other means of income to supplement the needs of the family. When DSWD and the municipality conducted the training program, she applied in behalf of her mother and was selected to join. This according to her is a big help and she left the children to the care of her mother when she is selling.
Every night, 25 members of the association are regularly selling their food items in a food cart provided under the project. Apart from the Peddlers Certificate that they secured from the municipal government, they are just paying expenses for electricity and nothing more. They were also tasked to clean the venue when the village has been closed as part of their share in maintaining the cleanliness of the village.