Antonio and Emma Mejeo
It was on the last day of September 2022, past noon, when Antonio Mejeo (44) came to our field office in the farming village of Obat, Sta. Catalina, together with his firstborn Nicol (16), to fully repay his loan. Antonio had harvested 23 tons of sugarcane valued at 90,000 pesos (€1,600) on his 1.5 hectare piece of land. He was delighted to tell Winelin that he had been able to buy his children new school bags, shoes, and school supplies from the proceeds. Antonio was also able to set aside 15,000 pesos of savings which he intends to use for Emma, his live-in partner who will give birth to their sixth child anytime this month. We came to know Antonio when he first applied for a loan in 2019 for corn cultivation and in 2021 for his sugarcane cultivation. Both loans were fully repaid ahead of schedule. Antonio’s sad story of being a single parent in 2010 prompted us to help him. He couldn’t forget the day in 2010 when his wife eloped with another man and abandoned him and their three very young children. Thankfully, Antonio’s siblings supported him, and each took turns in looking after his children when he was away as part of a team doing sugarcane harvests or weeding all over the province. It was in 2015 on one such trip that Antonio was introduced to Emma, another farm labourer by his friends. It was Emma’s gentle traits that Antonio was attracted to and he courted her for a year, and they then became a couple. With Emma, Antonio has fathered two adorable daughters, Emalyn (5) and Emelen (3), and a new baby will soon be joining their big family. Aside from cultivating sugarcane, intercropped with corn, Antonio also works as a farm labourer. He belongs to a team of labourers that go to various towns on Negros island to do weeding or harvesting. The proceeds are divided equally between the team members with each getting 2,000 pesos (€35) a week as their share. Antonio mostly works on his sugarcane farm at weekends when he gets back from his team assignments. His sugarcane field has been cleared of weeds and the stalks are now about a foot high which is when fertilisers should be applied. He is applying for a loan to buy 13 sacks of fertilizer at 3,000 pesos per sack. This is the second cropping which should give him a higher sugar content than the first and thus a bigger income. Antonio is hopeful of a harvest in October 2023 giving him a gross sales income of 140,000 pesos and a net profit of 115,000 pesos (€2,000) after deducting all expenses. Antonio is excited about the prospects for his farming in the coming year and most grateful for our help. He and all his family members, including his mother, Rosie (74), who lives with them are in good health, and this is what makes Antonio happy.
The Mejeo family : (L-R) Back: Oliver (Antonio’s son), Emma, Antonio and Nicol (Antonio’s first born) Front: Emalyn, Emelyn and Rosie (Antonio’s mother)