A TOTAL of 12 sitios with around 2,700 indigenous peoples’ (IP) families recently benefitted from the coconut seedlings distribution conducted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), in cooperation with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), in Barangay Megcuayan, Calinan, Davao City.

Former PCA director Roque Quimpan shared during the event that the 20,000 coconut seedlings, if taken care of, could generate around P14 million income annually for the beneficiaries, adding that one coconut tree alone could give a farmer more or less P70.

“Ang bunot pa lang mudagan na og P60 karong panahona kay naay mga nagapalit ana para i-manufacture,” he said.

(The coco husk alone could be sold for P60 during this time since there are those who buy coco husk to be manufactured.)

The PCA, represented by Regional Manager Juvy Alayon, was there to share their technical expertise, especially on how to properly care for the newly planted coconut seedlings and to orient the IPs on the other by-products of coconut that are highly valued in the market today, such as coco vinegar, coconut chips, among others.

Alayon said coconut farmers should know how to value-add or make products out of the coconut to make their livelihood sustainable.

“Dili lang ta magsalig sa usa ka produkto sa lubi, kung sauna atong ibaligya ang tibuok bunga, karon daghan na ta’g mahibaluan mga mamahimong produktong gama sa lubi nga mas mahal pa kaysa ibaligya ang tibuok bunga,” Alayon said.

(We should not depend on one coconut product alone. Before, we sell the whole coconut fruit. This time, we are more knowledgeable about several products made from coconut that are more expensive than selling the whole fruit.)

Paulo Bayanban, one of the beneficiaries and members of the Ata tribe, shared that the coconut seedlings are a great help for them for their livelihood.

“Naa na man mi mga tanom, pero kulang pa gyud. Maong dako kaayo among pasalamat ini nga gidalitan mi’g mga seedlings sa lubi aron madugang sa among pananom, makadugang sa among pangita,” Bayanban shared.

For his part, Barangau Megcuayan Captain Diomedes Dela Cruz expressed deep gratitude on behalf of his constituents and the beneficiaries, who are mostly surrenderers.

Meanwhile, PCSO General Manager Royina Garma said among the vulnerable sectors the PCSO wanted to help, it is the IPs that are close to her heart.

“Kayo kasi yung most vulnerable at napabayaan,” she said, attributing to the fact that urban poor can easily ask for help as offices of organizations and government agencies, especially concerning social welfare, can be found in the city’s center.

IPs in the far-flung areas can hardly reach these offices to air their concerns or ask for assistance.