Visiting Kiva Borrowers in Siquijor Island, Philippines

Keith Baillie | KF19 | Philippines

I recently voyaged to Siquijor Island to visit the Larena Office of my Kiva partner, Paglaum Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PMPC). I was accompanied by Lysette, the partner’s Kiva Coordinator:


Larena is a 6-hour ferry ride from the PMPC head office in Plaridel, Mindanao, so the ferry provides bunk beds. At the port, children dive to entertain the passengers who throw coins.

Composite_ferrySiquijor is a relatively undeveloped island, with fishing and tourism as the predominant industries.

ImageMotorbikes are the transportation of choice on Siquijor. On Wednesday, we ride “habal-habal” (3 or more per bike) to visit our fist Kiva borrowers outside of town. The local office offers Kiva loans predominantly to group members (groups range up to 25). Our visits are unannounced and about half the borrowers are absent – probably at the local barangay (district) fiesta. We track down 4 borrowers:

  • Genie, who runs a “sari-sari” (general) store.
  • Valeriana, who runs a palm wine store and had a loan for a piglet, which she sold.
Genie and Valariana
  • Jeanalie, who buys clothes from her friend in town and sells them locally.
  • Rosalie, who bought a piglet for breeding, which is now pregnant.


We eventually break for lunch and half the office heads to the local fiesta district to eat at a friend/relative’s house.


On Thursday, we visit 7 more borrowers:

  • Rufo, Emma, and Michael all took loans to buy new fishing nets.


  • Gloria makes a shrimp/pork condiment called “alamang” and gives me a sample jar.
  • Julita invested in a hog, which is already pregnant.


  • Marelyn sells gasoline (in Coke bottles) to motorcycle and tricycle taxi drivers.
  • Marlyn has a “sari-sari” store.


My PMPC colleague, Marlon, introduced me to Marelyn and Marlyn at the same time. You can imagine what a mess I got in keeping all the documents and references to the 3 Ms straight.

Thursday afternoon, there is a group loan disbursement in the office. All the members of the group show up and Marlon, lectures them, with good humor, on their responsibilities and distributes their loan schedules.

Loan Disbursement
Loan Disbursement

Friday is a public holiday and there is no boat directly back to Plaridel until Sunday, so I take the ferry to Damaguete on Negros and another to Dapitan on Mindanao. Damaguete was founded by nuns and Dapitan was where the revered Filipino intellectual, Rizal, was exiled to keep him far from political influence. He focused his energies on education and farming improvements and would undoubtedly have supported the contemporary cooperative movement.

Nuns Arriving in Damaguette &Rizal Arriving in Dapitan
Nuns Arriving in Damaguete &Rizal Arriving in Dapitan

Fortunately my ferry was bigger than these. This completed my field visit to Siquijor.

About the author


Keith was born and raised in a lower middle-class family in London. He studied Physics and Philosophy at Oxford University and postgraduate Education at London University. He has traveled extensively (on and off) worldwide. Keith’s first overseas experience was teaching maths and science in a bush school in Kenya. Most of his subsequent career was in software documentation and training - in England, Saudi Arabia, France and California. Keith has now lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20+ years. He interned earlier this year at Kiva HQ doing IT documentation and is currently trying to reinvent himself.