Who would have thought that this unique finger food—the Macaroni Chicharon—would bring a stable livelihood to a family, whose breadwinner lost his job as a seafarer during the pandemic?

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, it affected everyone, testing their resilience to stay safe and put food on the table. Some people turned to online work or selling goods to survive, while others lost their jobs, including Filma’s partner, Cielito Bryan Maghanoy, a seafarer.

Filma shows off her packed chicharon, ready for delivery.

Filma Sucuano, a mother of a 7-year-old daughter, lives in a quiet and peaceful place near the beach in Simacolong, Lazi, Siquijor.

When the news about the pandemic and her common-law partner’s sudden unemployment broke out in 2020, Filma felt the impact and wondered how their family could move forward. “We were downhearted at that time because the crisis affected us,” recalls Filma.

To cope with the crisis, government agencies implemented amelioration programs. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) implemented programs and services, including livelihood, through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). The program provided livelihood assistance grants (LAG) to help low-income families greatly affected by the pandemic improve their economic conditions.

The province of Siquijor has 3,855 LAG beneficiaries, some of whom have flourished in their livelihoods and even helped others in crisis.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Filma’s family, they prayed and searched for ways to earn money. Since everyone stayed home, they tried online selling and searched the internet for ideas.

Nag search mi sa YouTube ug nakita namo nga patok kaayo ang macaroni chicharon, so mao to among gisuwayan (We searched the YouTube and discovered that macaroni chicharon has become popular, so we tried it),” Filma shared.

They faced many challenges as they went along the production process and made several mistakes before perfecting the recipe and getting the right taste and crispiness. They started selling and delivering the product to their community and nearby stores.

When regular classes resumed after the pandemic, the family included selling the tasty macaroni chicharon in schools. Eventually, due to increased demand for the product, they hired helpers to pack and deliver the products to patron stores in schools and the market.

Filma’s student helpers pack the chicharon.

Now, Filma has three (3) student helpers and one (1) delivery man; they helped Filma and also gained additional income for their financial needs.

One of the helpers, Marc Nino Bayubay, a student from Larena, Siquijor, shared that he spends his free time and weekends helping others pack macaroni chicharon. He shared that his income from packing macaroni chicharon has helped him pay for his boarding house. The remaining amount goes to his allowance.

Filma expressed her gratitude to the government and the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program for allowing her to recover from the pandemic, provide additional income to her family, and provide for and help some members of her community. ###

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