BrightWorld

Dreams, Optimism, Wisdom

SHELTER DELIVERY: HOUSING STATE EMPLOYEES, EFFECTING RECOVERABILITY July 7, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

We surely have housing backlogs on a perennial basis in the country. The backlog had never been sufficiently filled up amid the media hypes of stakeholders regarding this developmental problem. Even when civil society joined the housing arena together with the state and market, huge backlogs by the millions of houses remain.   

I had the opportunity of working for the Ministry of Human Settlements in the early 1980s as a young junior executive. The posts I occupied (deputy provincial manager, acting provincial manager, …) allowed me to oversee state programs in development, notably community development, enterprise development and housing.

The institution of a line ministry as a strategy to meet the housing backlog, fast-track the construction and delivery of livable houses did work to achieve desired ends up to a certain extent. As far as my office was concerned then, our mandate was to plan and execute new projects under the shelter program (I directed the start-up planning for the house-on-stilts for new Cagayan subdivisions then, and had them approved for implementation), and monitor the ‘rural BLISS’ sites (BLISS = Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services).

The rural BLISS sites were largely located in small towns and catered mainly to government employees. They were already constructed and occupied when I arrived as a community development assistant in 1981. A team in our regional liaison office monitored the sites by interfacing with the homeowners’ associations called the BLCA (BLISS Community Associations).

When our ministry was re-organized and expanded in mid-1981, management of the sites went to the Estates Management Office of the Regional Office (called Area Coordinating Center or ACC). My office (called Provincial Action Center or PAC) interfaced with the Estates Management group, got reports from them, and thanks heavens this relieved me of some heavy tasks regarding the matter.

Effecting recoverability was quite a tough one then, to recall. All of the sites’ homeowners somehow paid their mortgages on time, though some got delayed in remitting theirs’, save for one: the Tuao site. Tuao was headed by a warlord Mayor (Leonard Mamba), but who, being a fellow alumnus at the University of the Philippines, was very cooperative and cordial with me.  

Having no problem in relating to the local exec, I can now deal directly with the Tuao BLISS homeowners. They simply refused to pay their bills (mortgage)! What terrible homeowners these ones were, one may rightly surmise. Because, as one can see, they were the only ones who refused to pay mortgage. Terrible! How should you deal with the matter, if you were tasked to do oversight job on it?

It wasn’t my office’s job to instill collection rules, but the matter was brought to my attention by the shelter staff of the regional office. They begged me to put my feet forward a bit, dip my hands in the fiasco, and negotiate with the homeowners. The residents could have gone to the mayor to stake out their stubborn attitude, but they realized I was ‘chika-chika’ (cordially related) to the mayor there (who was a brilliant lawyer in Manila before becoming the warlord mayor).

I immediately drew the tactics in my mind. It was still best to talk to them, this was Plan A. But if talks would fail, if carrots won’t work, then I will have to use sticks on the stubborn residents. The stick was to request the provincial commander of the Philippine Constabulary (who was my ‘chika-chika’ and distant cousin), and use the troops to drive out the residents. I was tough about doing Plan B.

But I was resolved in exhausting Plan A. For two (2) days I visualized myself like some Napoleon Bonaparte talking to his men and inspiring them with words. Inspire the homeowners with words, this was the tactic. Move them to tears, remind them that it would be better to have a home and pay for them, rather than live in the streets homeless. Move them with words, simple!

My own exposure to the theatre as a college student did pay off in this task. I had to role play for many hours, said my lines to my agency team, and then delivered my lines before the residents. It worked! There was standing ovation and loud applause after the talk. I can never ever forget the engagement, I myself was nearly brought to tears. The following week they began to settle their arrears and began to pay their dues.

Well, the occasion proved that good communications should be exhausted, and eloquence pays off much. Practice eloquence, maximize personal touch on clientele, and you can move mountains. That will brighten your day, as development is all about moving mountains anyway. It can be done.

[Writ 29 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

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TREE PLANTING & DENDROTHERMAL, ECOLOGY BALANCE June 22, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Perhaps the readers may recall that a couple of years back, Sec. Angelo Reyes of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) initiated massive tree planting and the  constitution of ecology volunteers’ groups for the purpose. The trees were visibly planted along the pan-Philippine highway and strategic areas, for greater impact generation.

 

That project was very appreciable, but it was not the original thing. In the years 1979-81, the new Ministry of Human Settlements or MHS constituted village brigades comprising of volunteers, one such brigade being the ‘ecology balance brigade’. With ‘ecology balance’ identified among the ’11 Basic Needs of Man’, it was but proper to organize brigades and enact ecology balance via massive tree planting, biodiversity where appropriate, recycling or ‘waste utilization’ projects, and new laws declaring as mandatory in all new residential villages the allotment of 30% of land for parks & open spaces alone.

 

I joined the MHS in early 1981, then fresh from college, as a community services assistant at the Regional Liaison Office – Regioin II. I recall well that one of the first tasks I had to do was to monitor the brigades and town-level organizers (Human Settlements’ Officers). The ‘ecology brigades’, to my amazement, were at par in organizational development with the others (water, power, education, S&T, mobility…), its members actively engaged in localized projects.

 

But the most focal impactful project of that time was the massive tree planting, with the giant Ipil-Ipil serving as lead crop. The small native ipil was also massively disseminated, more so that it served as good input for livestock feeds. The miraculous thing about the giant ipil-ipil was that it grew so fast, its branches extending outward at rapid rates, and so it took no time at all to harvest them.

 

Unlike the Reyes-initiated project that concentrated cultivation in main arterial roads, the Maharlika tree planting (as the MHS dubbed the project then) cultivated in both the arterial and peripheral roads. And, in pioneer ipil tree farms inland, many of which took off and benefitted the small planters with great fulfillment.

 

It was during my monitoring sortees to the different towns of Cagayan Valley that I conducted the extra task of morale-boosting the ecology brigades and briefing the HSOs accordingly about the massive tree planting program. By the start of the 2nd quarter of 1981, we staff devoted succeeding days for immersing ourselves in the tree planting efforts, documentation and consultations with tree planters, and networking with state agencies that supported the project. We did the same thing again in 1982, and another session in 1983 (my last year in the MHS/Region II).

 

Seeing the success of the 1981 wave of ipil cultivation, the newly constituted livelihood program quickly caught the ecology fever and designed ‘tree farming’ and ‘dendrothermal’ projects, utilitizing ipil trees. They were circumscribed within the ‘agroforestry’ and the ‘waste utilization’ project modules (there were 7 such modules then). Seeing my acumen for project development, the new management pulled out pronto from community services and was directed to be among the pioneer staff for livelihood, which I so gladly accepted. I had many wonderful moments brainstorming and conceptualizing enterprise projects, from micro- to SME levels, including this wave of ‘tree farming’ and ‘dendrothermal’.

 

The seedling banks for ipil trees, both giant and small, were simply too many that they dotted the entire archipelago, including Manila. Likewise was the market for ipil so huge and well established, including the feed mills. It need not belabored that the giant trees contributed in no small measure to the oxygenation of the surrounds, and protective canopies for travelers and pasture breeds.

 

We volunteer and small planters than considered ourselves true ecologists. And, thanks heavens, there were no ‘environmentalist’ groups then, whose ceaseless sloganeering is so annoying they could have slowed down the projects altogether. I really have the great wish that these ‘environmentalists’ will immerse their hands in production and re-green the mountains, so they can join the true ecologists and exercise Oneness in spirit and action. It may not be too late for them to do just that.

 

[Writ  05 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

LOBSTERS, CRABS, FISH CAGES – BALLESTEROS VENCEREMOS! June 8, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

[Writ 07 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Writer was former Livelihood Coordinator of the Ministry of Human Settlements, PAC Gonzaga, from July 1981-June 1982. In Jan. 82 he was designated Acting Deputy Provincial Manager, concurrent with the livelihood post.]

Let me go through with my continuing journey as a young development professional, and transport you this time to the town of coastal town of Ballesteros in Cagayan. This town is famous for its crustaceans, notably crabs and lobsters. Let me stress here that the crabs and lobsters were huge by size compared to the ordinary, making them worth writing.

In the last quarter of 1982 my agency then, the MHS, finally recruited, trained and deployed Municipal Staff Assistants or MSAs. It was a great relief to acquire the “new kids on the block”, as it lifted so many burdens from us provincial staff, both technical and communicative (information dissemination of the KKK). From Ballesteros came this lanky young male staff (name now escapes my memory), with long ‘babalo’ chin. He was a no mean staff, to recall.

Mr. Bubbles (that’s how I jokingly call ‘babalo’ long chin folks) brought to my attention right away the huge potentiality of expanding crustacean production in his town. Unfazed by his rather dynamic explanation, who was almost gyrating like Elvis Presley during his presentation, I arranged for some consultations with fish farmers there (crustacean producers who operated onshore) as well as municipal fishers (who operated offshore). I simply wished to verify what my staff had reported to me then.

I found out that my staff did presented information in as truthful a manner as possible, verifying every millimeter of his report to the dot. I then arranged a visitation to the coastal area to see for myself what things were in there. To my own shock (I do get this feeling in the field at times), I realized that their ‘gears’ for fish farming was appallingly primitive (hmmm this is what I got for being an acculturated Big City boy in Manila: culture shock at local life). They used guava twigs that were planted below the sea level, after which the fish farmers would pick them up, with the ‘victims’ riding on the twigs.

As usual, my team’s task was to conceptualize what innovation to introduce there. That’s why our job is called ‘development’. To recoup from my initial shock (I really had to criticize myself silently), I quickly arranged for consultations with the technical staff of the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources) who became our constant partners in the area (they were so elated at our arrival there), as well as the professors of the Cagayan State University (CSU) –Gonzaga branch (agriculture & fisheries campus). From the consultations and research of my staff, we pieced up information about the techno-component that would be simple to operate and utilize local resources for inputs.

Since we already had municipal fishing with bagoong making in Gonzaga, my team, with the nod of our BFAR partners, decided to focus crustacean fish farming in Ballesteros. So we had this double task of convincing the municipal fishers in the town to sideline as fish farmers if they wish to benefit from the KKK enterprise finance program there.

Our simple innovation introduced to them was the ‘fish cage’, or ‘crustacean trap’. It was made of wooden and tree branches, with grill-fashioned openings to let the smaller crabs & lobsters get in, where they’d stay and feed. As soon as they grew in size, it was difficult for them to go out if at all (experiments have shown they don’t go out as they acclimatize to the domicile). Simple indeed, but so sensible as it increased the yield of the marine farmers.

We also had to convince the fish farmers to apply as individual proponents. The parameters in the area were different from that of neighbor Gonzaga where offshore fishing was the primary engagement. It was more fruitful if each individual would work on his ‘crustacean yard’ (by the sea), though collectively they would have to secure the area together (there are always thieves everywhere, remember).

Project approval was fast for this one. I don’t recall now the exact figures per project. But my recall is sharp regarding the approval, financing, re-training of fish farmers, take-off, and the most important: taste of the final result. The lobsters and crabs using the traps were even larger than the previous pre-trap days! I’m sure you’d agree with me that these crustaceans warm up the heart and brighten your day when you see, feel and taste them.

 

GONZAGA’S BAGOONG BRIGHTENS UP YOUR DAY June 4, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Two towns away to the east of Appari, Cagayan is the town of Gonzaga. Like its neighboring towns of Sta Ana (to its east) and Ballesteros (to its west), and those other coastal towns north of Cagayan, Gonzaga is home to fishery engagements. These are largely small fishers, or municipal fishers who could only go fishing by as much as ten (10) kilometers from the shoreline.

A town in the doldrums economically, this town though had the luck of being chosen as the site for the Provincial Action Center (PAC) of the Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS) for Northern Cagayan & Batanes. The PAC building itself was newly done in 1981 when we respective personnel occupied it. No sooner had we sat down there, I being the new Livelihood Coordinator for that area, when we got swamped with inquiries about the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran or KKK, the new enterprise finance program of government.

It was from this town where my team encountered many small planters and fishers. One group of fishers comprised of gentlemen who each had some fishing gears to operate, comprising of a 12-18 foot canoe (made from wood) with out-trigger, fish net, volvo outboard motor, and accessories. In contrast to the capital town of Tuguegarao where the experience was an attitude of luke warmth-to-indifference of folks towards the KKK, here there was enthusiasm about the program.

After some discussions with them, my team arranged for visitations of the operation area (coast). We had to be careful in dealing with these guys, because that town was home to the insurgent New People’s Army (NPA), and any mistake would turn out risky and costly. Without them telling us, I sensed that some of the folks were in fact doing espionage work for the NPAs. Instead of getting scared of that situation, I took it as an opportunity to show to the folks that development work is sincere, that if we can deliver the goods these same folks would cooperate well with the “new kids on the block” (team of development managers & implementers). Even the NPAs would admire us and not bother us and our beneficiaries for ‘revolutionary taxation’ which they never did.

It took us almost a month of discussions, visitations, and preliminary data gathering before we could decide what to counsel the folks. First, the fishers knew how to go about with their business, but their lives aren’t improving much, so it must be made clear to them that there is a gap in their competencies including technical (their gears are backward, though indigenous to the area). Second, we had information about the fishery resources in the locality, and knowledge about how to expand their markets. Third, we got the extra information that the town folks produced bagoong, or fermented fish, though production was primitive (home-made fermentation using terra cotta jars).

Piecing up the information together, including what institutional innovation to introduce, we then counseled the fishers confidently of the following: (1) instead of individual proponents, the group will cooperativize; (2) certain technical skills, including the management of the cooperative, the finances and control systems, and the marketing strategies, will be taught to them; (3) bagoong production will be the forward integration component for processing of small fish types (notably the dilis); (4) fishing nets will adjust to the larger team of fishers, so that bigger nets can be utilized and bigger outputs yielded.

After getting the clear nod of the group, we went about with our partnering business, taking another month to produce the business plan, begin cooperative training and assist in processing document, designing the tank for the bagoong production site (we had an engineer who helped us design a concrete tank), and other tasks.  The funding then was so open, so when the group submitted their documents and I endorsed the project for approval (funding at P350,000), it didn’t take a month for final approval (by the regional office) and the release of first tranche of funds.

Construction of the bagoong site began immediately, coupled with acquisition of larger boats, nets and gears. In no time at all did the contractor finished the ‘factory’ site, which had a concrete tank of 10 feet long by 4 feet width, and 2 feet height. Fermentation formula was 1:4 (1 can of salt for every 4 cans of fresh fish). The upper portion contained a faucet located 6 inches below the top, which released the patis (fermented sauce) that floated on top.

Upon launching and initial catch plus initial fermentation, our team and the proponents were so elated at the result. The bagoong tasted really good, so was the patis qualitatively good, it didn’t take the group a hard time to market them. So with fish catch (sold pronto in the coast to middlemen traders) and bagoong + patis as sideline, the fishers finally tasted better life. This is truly bagoong for better living, and remains among the legacy of Gonzaga.

[Writ 07 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

 

LONG LINE TUNA MAKES EVERYONE HAPPY June 2, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Tuna sandwich, tuna adobo, grilled tuna, and more tuna. We’re surely a happy people here in the islands, based on Asian researches showing that in fact we’re the happiest people. I’d say tuna is among those fauna that satiates our appetites and make us happily fulfilled.

In case you fellows would want to know what gears are used to catch tuna—that would not damage the environment nor the infantile tuna—let this be told. Muro ami and purse seiners are still in among some commercial fishers here, but these are stoned aged gears. The purse seiners scrape the coral reefs below sometimes, thus damaging the spawning areas of fishes. Muro ami exploits children who are used with the gear, and threaten their very lives.

In the early 1980s, as a junior executive then with the Ministry of Human Settlements, I had the opportunity to eco-scan the offshore areas of Cagayan, with fisheries experts and investors tugged along. Among the enthused investors were the executives connected with Dr. Edward Litton who was at one time the richest man in RP (he owned Litton Mills, and was into food exports). I also had at some times interacted with the billionaire himself, in his Wac-Wac home in Mandaluyong City (Manila).

What caught my attention then was the opening salvo of new technologies to catch, store, pack and retail tuna without the damaging effects of the stone age gears. At that time, the Long Line Tuna equipment was freshly released, and our neighbor Taiwan was producing the gears in mass scales. It cost P1 M then to purchase a long line tuna which comes with the big boat, the long line, sashimi-grade storage, and packing. That is roughly P18 Million today.

If one would add at least four (4) months of working capital, the funding requirement for a Long Line Tuna Project would cost P1.5 Million in 1982, or roughly P27 Million today. Former executives of Dr. Litton, namely Atty. Pefianco and Efren de Castro, put up their own trading firm, and was the proponent of a start-up project funded under the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran or KKK. Their company though, the EFCI, had joint undertakings with the old boss, Dr. Edward.

The gear surely fascinated me. It didn’t use nets, but rather a long line that could stretch to 7 kilometers long. Using floaters, the long line would be situated just above water, with the hooks containing tuna feedlots just a few feet below the waters. Upon hauling a catch, the tuna is pre-processed right away, cleaned and pre-cut to large sizes, and stored as sashimi-grade products in the built-in refrigeration. The gear could go out to sea for days, at most for four (4) weeks assuming that provisions would be complete.

Another news that fascinated me then was that over 3 Million tons of tuna—that traverse the Pacific towards Taiwan and Japan—die every year due to old age. It means no one is catching them, so they simply die naturally. The point is, why not catch them en masse, catch even just a few thousands of tons? The byline worked, I was convinced of the production side to the project, and I had it be endorsed for approval in late 1982. Loan requested then was P1 Million, with the rest declared as equity.

The fish boat of the long line tuna gear was at that time already the automatic steering type. It was programmable in such a way that, all by itself, it can sense blockages along the way (eg. rock formations, small islets, vessels) and avoid them by re-routing, before it traverses the same path programmed for it. Amazing gears!

Today we could just imagine how the gears for catching tuna and game fish, the real large ones, could have evolved. Great catchers can use the usual fish line to catch a bull as large as 300 kilograms, such as my sibling Emerald who is an expert on game fishing. In Mexico, the Tuna Cage is now in operation, where cages are used to trap baby tunas that are then raised in the same cages placed just below the sea, under the fish boat.

As a development official then, and even after that (as private person), I found it wonderful to go out with fisherfolks for the early morning catch. I can never forget the experiences in Cagayan, Quezon and Batanes in particular. Privately, in California, I’d go out with sibling, bringing along our family speed boat there that also dabbles out as fishing vessel. It was really fun, learning, and thrill altogether.  

[Writ 06 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

SAMURAI PRODUCERS OF LARION May 14, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 01 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

Samurais in Tuguearao! That must be a farfetched chimera, but truly in this capital town of Cagayan province (Northern Philippines) is located a village of cottage industries run and managed by marginal artisans. Their chief craft was, and remains to be that of bladed metal works.

 

I was pretty busy scouring for bankable projects in my own hometown (my basic education years were spent in Tuguegarao) as early as 1981 when news came to me that a certain group of Larion craftsmen desired to bolt away from their tradition and diversify into hmmm samurai swords. Already a junior executive of the Ministry of Human Settlements after barely out of college, I had the luck of having among my personnel a driver who was bona fide resident of Larion village (barrio was the term then).

 

The driver (Rolando Tumpalan), an Ilocano like all of his neighbors in Larion, was very vivid in his presentation to me one day of the plan of his neighbors to diversify into samurai swords and accessories. I knew since childhood that Larion produced bolos and knives, made from cast iron scraps, even as my own family abode possessed couples of the same products. But to say of samurai swords, well, my encyclopedia set was telling me that the original thing was made of a specially forged steel alloy. Besides, I knew by then that samurai craft (it was home industry in Japan) was dying if not dead already. Japanese considered themselves as Western people and had nothing to do with seemingly phoney items from their past, including kimonos and samurai blades.

 

Before some Larion guys might be playing tricks on me, I summoned my operations manager (Mia Calimag) and Livelihood Coordinator (Bong) to immediately set a rendezvous between the regional director of the National Cottage Industry or NACIDA (name now escapes my memory) and myself, with our technical staff around. The NACIDA was one of our partner agencies in implementing the KKK and was already in operations way ahead of us in the region (my agency was regionalized only in mid-1981).

 

Well, thanks to this magnanimous NACIDA official, he came right to my office, breaking protocol by visiting the office of an erstwhile official of lower rank. We than set our joint agenda and modus operandi first of all, updated each other about initial enterprise support operations of our respective agencies, and determined whether the Larion metalworkers were worth supporting. To my own surprise, this director (quite a fat guy but very intelligent) was very enthusiastic about the samurai project.

 

This being so, we immediately arranged for a visit to the proposed project site in Larion, had a chat with the officials of the cooperative (the coop served as beneficiary), inspected their facilities, and then delivered pep talks to the members. We were then shown models of the proxy swords produced by them, and wow! My eyes almost popped out of wonderment. The products were splendid! The intended captive market was the tourists, with domestic tourist resorts and trade exhibit sites serving as primary forward linkages.

 

The funding support from the KKK (Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran) was needed to procure extra machines (metal lathe included), mini-furnace, increase the volume of raw materials (steel scraps), improve the storage area, hiring marketing & sales staff, re-train the artisans, and for around three (3) months of working capital. Funding level was past P0.5 Million, with approval done merely at our regional level (past the P1 Million it has to go to central office).

 

The Larion coop members were very elated over the support shown by us state officials over their venture. Such an elation would extend throughout the processing of their documents and pre-operational trainings, and on through their appearances in some KKK Recognition Days (held once a month).

 

The project did take off and operate successfully, and made the name of Larion blade makers shine brightly beyond their previous marginal state. It’s now over a quarter of a decade since that project commenced, and I wish the Larion samurais had graduated to global standards in any way.

 

ONE-ARMED EX-CONVICT SUCCEEDS IN BOTTLED CRAFT May 12, 2008

Bro. Erle Frayne D. Argonza

[Writ 01 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

Hi Fellows! Kumusta kayo! (How are you doing!)

 

You may wonder how a man, convicted for murder and imprisoned for a long period, possessing just a single arm (he was amputated of his left arm), would survive life after prison. This is the success story of a man from Solana town, Cagayan province (northern Philippines), whose name now escapes my memory when I met him in 1982.

 

Solana is a new town carved out of its mother town, the capital town Tuguegarao, and lies just across the mighty Cagayan River from the capital town. 700,000 years ago mammoths roamed this area, whose remains, including those of Paleolithic man, were freshly discovered by anthropologists in the 1990s. This town could very well be the ‘cradle of mankind’ in Southeast Asia, who knows?

 

But among those news that enlivened the quite sleepy town in 1982 was about its scion, whom I’d call Asyong here. Freshly out of prison, possessing nary a thing but a few clothes, he “jumped the gun” right away and took on the challenge of heading towards a successful middle income life, minus his left hand. His town was notorious for producing Jesse James-type assassins, and without him telling me what he did then, I knew he was a dreaded Jesse James (besides my staff whispered the fact to me hmmm).

 

He was morbidly repentant of what he did in the past though, as I can see in his face and aura (I was already a spiritual seeker than and had started doing yoga meditation). I was the designated Deputy Provincial Manager of the Ministry of Human Settlements for Cagayan, and here was this man whom I thought was bankable and would fit our search for human interest stories of our livelihood program (funded through the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran or KKK). I was also dabbling as concurrent Regional PR Manager, edited our KKK newsletter, was on radio every Saturday of the week for livelihood talks, and here was this petite but dangerous artisan of murder who now wanted to mutate into a genuine artisan of a preferred craft.

 

Dangling behind his back was a handbag containing a bulging thing. And were it not that one knows his real intention for coming, the bulging thing might be suspected for a caliber 45 hand gun. It turned out to be his model of his craft that he learned inside the Muntinlupa correctional (prison), a transparent 750 gin bottle that now contained inside it a replica of a house surrounded by a mini-garden. It was beautiful! How did this one-armed jack ever do the trick? Well it was no trick but craft, serious craft.

 

Selling for a mere P35 apiece then, I immediately ordered for three (3) pieces, one would be mine while the two others would be for gift items. I also did the peddling within my office by urgently meeting my staff and informing them of the product, while the Livelihood Coordinator and his assistants did the selling for this humble and short man (he must have  been mid 40s then). After hearing his sad travail, I instructed my staff to prioritize this beneficiary, and expected the business plan be done in a couple of weeks or less. His project will be funded pronto upon completion of the biz plan and fast-track training.

 

Just by viewing the esthetics of the prototype, I was convinced that the product will sell. That was all I needed to establish: the marketability. The rest would be marketing strategy, branding, and packaging. With my good staff behind me to prepare the business plan, it did turn out in the cash flow and income statements that the project was highly feasible. Seeing the bullish biz mien of the proponent himself, it didn’t take long before my staff would complete his training so he and his assistants (he had apprentices) could handle the organizational, financial and marketing aspects fairly well.

 

The project, funded again through the KKK, did take off not soon after my first encounter with this reformed ex-con. In couples of KKK Recognition Days (we held one every month), I requested this beneficiary to be around so he could be duly recognized. In some occasions I also requested him to do some talks before the audience, which he shyly complied with.

 

So  Fellows, from mammoths and Paleolithic Man to ex-con producing wonderful craft, this town of Solana had it in the 1980s. It’s worth visiting, this town, which now has tour resorts, and hopefully that man (he must be early 70s if he were still alive today) had more than amply exhibited to his town-mates the true way of the Solana Man: a harbinger of civilization.