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By: Krizzia Mei C. Esperanza

Tayong mga babae ay hindi babae lang; tayo’y mga babae,” said by Jomalig Municipal Science and Technology Officer (MSTO) Elizabeth A. Eyatid during the inauguration of the Jomalig Food Processors Association (JFPA) facility on May 19, 2021. The JFPA is a people’s organization of mostly mothers making and selling kakanin (rice cakes) in the island municipality of Jomalig, Quezon.

Ms. Eyatid also shared the difficulties JFPA faced since its inception in 2018. “Naging emosyonal po ako habang iniisip kung paano nangyari itong project. Napakarami po ng challenges, [pero] hindi ko po ito binitawan kahit na sa mga panahong nagkaproblema sa association, inabot ng pandemic—ang pondo ay halos ibalik na.” she recounted. Ms. Rolinda R. Verdan, JFPA President, in an interview, mentioned the losses the association incurred when they produced kakanin in anticipation of the growing number of tourists in the island only for travel restrictions to take effect due to the pandemic.

Still, JFPA pushed through. During JFPA’s founding year in 2018, the Department of Science and Technology – CALABARZON (DOST-CALABARZON), through its Provincial Science and Technology Center in Quezon (DOST-PSTC Quezon), identified Jomalig as one of its priority beneficiaries in the Enhanced Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (E-CEST) Program. Considered as a geographically isolated and disadvantaged area (GIDA), Jomalig would benefit from S&T interventions the E-CEST program offers. Under the Livelihood/Economic Enterprise Development component of the E-CEST, JFPA became the recipient of DOST-CALABARZON’s S&T interventions.

To improve production capacity and efficiency, DOST-CALABARZON turned over to JFPA several food processing tools and equipment, including grains and vegetable grinder, cassava shredder, coconut grater, coconut milk presser, upright freezer, cooking utensils, and stainless working tables. The agency also provided the association a solar power system to save the latter from electricity costs. Meanwhile, the Local Government Unit of Jomalig funded the construction of the JFPA facility.

JFPA President Verdan said that the facility will be used outright to maximize the donated resources, and centralize kakanin production in Jomalig. In her acceptance speech during the inauguration, she remarked, “Naluluha po ako sa saya dahil nga [naisakatuparan] ang layunin ng programang ito na maiangat ang komunidad. Ako po’y natutuwa na ang mga kababayan natin, lalo na ang mga nanay, ay nabigyan ng pagkakataon na maghanapbuhay at makasabay sa pagtaas ng demand sa pagkain. Makakaasa po kayo na kami—ang samahan—ay magiging matagumpay para sa ikauunlad ng lahat, at hindi masayang ang tulong ng DOST sa bayan ng Jomalig.”