Virginia Lastima, married to Marcelito, was determined to make a living for her family. The little savings that they garnered from Marcelito’s wages was used to buy stocks for a food vending business set up in her in-laws home where they lived. Their main customers were teachers and students of the school situated nearby. With dreams of expanding, she spent her first Project Dungganon loan of PhP3,000 in 1999 to broaden her menu and buy materials to build a simple structure where customers could sit and eat. People flocked to Virginia’s eatery for tasty, affordable meals and her personalized service. As her food business grew, she was able build a modest building on the 150 square meter, roadside lot of her in-laws where she set up her carinderia (eatery) and sari-sari store(small convenience store). In 2006, she was finally able to build a home of their own by purchasing the land next to her in-laws. Securing a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Virginia and Marcelito opened a lumber business. Virginia’s loan amount has reached over PhP100,000 which is ploughed back into their businesses. She remains hands-on and involved in every aspect of their businesses. She encourages her children to work in their stores after school to learn the value of hard work and to understand each business. She explains that her success come from her customers, “It is very important that you are hardworking, disciplined and have a good relationship with your customers. I believe that one of the reasons why customers keep coming back to my stores is that I don’t mark up the price of my goods [too much]. I feel that with a small gain but with more customers patronizing your products, you will hit your daily sales goals. Repeat orders are important. I know that my businesses exist because of other people – my customers.”

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