From Coconuts to Sugar to Syrup: May pagkain na, kumita pa!
By Carlos Arnaldo
“We’re helping coconut farmers increase their income,” a bold proposition by Honorable Fernando L. Mesa (Retired Major General), Mayor of the tiny island municipality of Alabat off the coast of Quezon Province.
Enderun Colleges was most pleased to receive the visit of this very determined and dynamic local government official. “If the farmers just sell their coconuts, they get about a thousand pesos a month. If with our help, they process the coconut sap into coco sugar, they can earn three to six thousand a month. And if they process the sap into coco-syrup they can earn over nine thousand a month. This way the farmers have the resources to eat and live, kumikita pa!” A ten times earning increase, this is well on the way to eliminating poverty.
“How do you process the coconuts?” asked Dean Ed, President of Enderun Colleges.
“Where there is no private initiative, the local government, the municipality of Alabat, steps in to set up a processing industry. All the profits go to the farmers and to the municipality. But our farmers are old, average age is 57! Maraming nasa seventies, ngunit nagtatrabaho pa! We need to find a way to persuade our young people to stay on the island and develop its resources, sana we had a professional school for this.”
“Hmm, just an idea,” mused Choy Arnaldo, Dean of General Education, “we could set up a series of intensive NSTP courses in Alabat, immersion style like we do in Davao. Alabat organizes groups of high school seniors and our Enderun students work with them on mind mapping, entrepreneurship, marketing strategies, culinary practices, and creating start-ups.”
“And Alabat is closer to Enderun than Davao!” urged the mayor. “We have about 300 senior high school students, if even a tenth of them could develop an Alabat enterprise, we are on the way!”
“Let’s look into that,” said Dean Ed, “but we should also consider energy and renewable energy sources. Enderun is partnered with SIKAT Foundation through the Department of Saemaul Studies and Economic Development. SIKAT wants to collaborate with small communities all over the country on various renewable energy projects, and Alabat, Quezon shows much promise as a potential community they can work with.
“We need to push tourism too, lots of restaurants, but we need more tourism facilities, transportation, hotels, Airbnb or maybe home guesting? This brings the tourism income home!
In line with the Colleges’ mission goals, these discussions were part of a first experiment to bring the business leadership talents of Enderun to the grassroots, through dynamic mayors and governors. We are grateful to Mayor Fernando Mesa for sharing his ideas and pointing out potential areas for follow-up.