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Holy macaroni! | Pandemic challenge gives birth to macaroni chicharon in Siquijor

Re-packing of the macaroni chicharon, a healthier alternative to the favorite Filipino snack, pork chicharon. Filma Sucuano’s macaroni chicharon business is one of the success stories of DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program in Siquijor. (DSWD photo)

Initiative, industry, and resilience mixed with a caring and sharing spirit. These are the core ingredients that enabled a family in Siquijor to cope and eventually thrive throughout the pandemic. 

When Filma Sucuano’s husband lost his job amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew they had to find another way to earn an income for their family.

Living in the town of Lazi, Siquijor, the opportunities for an income stream was very limited especially in the middle of the pandemic. So Filma and her husband went online to look for ideas on what kind of business they can start. 

In their search, they stumbled upon macaroni chicharon, which was trending at that time as people were looking for healthier food options. 

Nag search mi sa YouTube ug unsa gud ang angayang buhaton or makakita mi ug negosyohon. Mao to nga nag trending ang macaroni chicharon so amo ra pud gisulayan. (We searched on YouTube for business ideas and we saw macaroni chicharon, so we gave it a try),” said Filma. 

After a few weeks of trial and error, the couple were able to come up with the taste they wanted. 

Nag trial and error mi hangtud nga nakuha na gyud namo ang insakto nga templa. (We had trial and error and we achieved the taste we were looking for),” she said. 

Filma then applied for a livelihood grant from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is offering the Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG) under their Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

LAG offers financial assistance for low-income families and calamity-affected households. 

Filma qualified for the grant and used the money to fund her small business. 

Usa ko sa nahatagan ug ayuda adto nga panahon, so kadto siya nga kuarta mao toy among gigamit aron magama namo ang among negosyo nga macaroni chicharon. (I was one of those who were given assistance. The money that we received was used to start up our business for the production of macaroni chicharon),” she said.

Filma Sucuano (far right) demonstrating the drying process in the macaroni chicharon production. (DSWD photo)
‘Healthy’ chicharon 

Macaroni chicharon is a snack made of dried macaroni pasta coated with batter and then seasoned with flavorings. 

It gained popularity during the pandemic as a healthier substitute to pork chicharon. 

Filma explained that 50 kilos of macaroni can produce 200 packs of macaroni chicharon. Each pack is sold at P100. 

She said they earn between P18,000 to P20,000 per production. 

Filma’s macaroni chicharon business has thrived since she and her husband started it in 2022. They have expanded and are earning enough that Filma is able to help others. 

Hangtud karon, nagpadayon gihapon mi ug gama ug kalooy sa Ginoo nakatabang pud mi sa uban kay naa pud among estudyante nga niapil pag repack, nahatagan pud namo ug suhol, mao pud to ilang magamit para sa allowance. (Until now we are making macaroni chicharon. With God’s mercy we were able to help others because we have students who are doing the repacking. They get paid, which they use for their allowance),” shared Filma.

Paying it forward

Filma’s niece, Sheena Sucuano, works as one of the re-packers in her macaroni chicharon business. Sheena is grateful for the opportunity to earn not only for her studies but also for her family. 

Nagpasalamat ko’g dako kay tungod sa chicharon ni Ate Filna, nalibre na akong balon kada semana, nakatabang pa gyud ko sa akong ginikanan kay nay usahay makaputos ko ug ikatulo sa usa ka semana. (I am very thankful because my income from repacking Ate Filna’s chicharon provides for my weekly allowance. It even helps my parents because sometime I can repack three times in a week. The earnings that I got from them, I give to my Mom),” Sheena said.

Another re-packer is Mark Niño Bayubay, a student of Siquijor State College. He is able to pay for his boarding house in Larena town from what Filma pays him. 

Dako kaayo ko ug pasalamat aning akong trabaho nga nasudlan karon kay usa ni siya sa nakatabang para sa allowance nako ug bayad sa boarding house. (I am very thankful for this job because it is one of the things that helped me have my allowance and pay for my boarding house in Larena),” Mark said. 

Delivery man Palito Aso is equally grateful that he landed a job working for Filma. 

Nakatabang gyud ning macaroni nila kay nakapalit palit pud ko unsay kulang sa balay pud. (The macaroni business has really helped me because I was able to buy the things we need in our house),” said Palito. 

Filma said her earnings may not be that much, but she is happy that she earns enough that she is able to help others. 

Bisan ginagmay ra no, naa gud siya’y kitaon. Nagtabang gyud nga ginagmay kay mohatag pa man pud ta, nakasuhol pud ta sa atong tig repack, mosuhol pud ta sa atong delivery, bahala na lang basta kay naangay angay pud. (It may seem small but at least we are earning enough to pay for the labor, from repackers down to the delivery. It’s a small income but it is good that we are able to share it with others),” she said. 

Filma thanked the government for giving her a chance to start a business that is now helping other people. 

Filma Sucuano’s macaroni chicharon business has thrived since she and her husband started it in 2022. They have expanded and are earning enough that Filma is able to help others. (DSWD photo)

Nagpasalamat ko ug dako sa atong gobyerno nga pinaagi sa ilang programa, nahatagan ko ug higayon nga makabangon pagkahuman sa pandemic nga nawad-an mi ug trabaho. Mapasalamaton ko ug dako kay dili lang ako ang nahatagan ug grasya, pati na akong mga silingan ug akong mga kaila, nakatrabaho pud sila nako ug apil. (I am very thankful to the government that I was given the chance to earn when so many lost their jobs during the pandemic. I am now able to share my blessings with others),” shared Filma.

SLP success story

Filma’s macaroni chicharon venture is one of Siquijor’s SLP success stories. 

According to Provincial Development and Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Abelardo Pusod, LAG is DSWD’s core program focused on the provision of livelihoods to poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged communities. 

Since it was implemented in 2022, there are a total 1,785 LAG recipients in Siquijor province. 

Of the total, 12 were from Enrique Villanueva, 396 from Lazi, 569 from Maria, 156 from San Juan, and 652 from Siquijor. 

In 2023, there were 512 beneficiaries who availed of the livelihood program. 

Pusod said they are currently monitoring 2,022 SLP projects provincewide. 

These are composed of 200 Livelihood Settlement Grant beneficiaries and 1,785 LAG beneficiaries in 2022, and 21 SLP Regular and 16 Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa projects. (RAC/PIA7-Siquijor) 

About the Author

Rachelle Nessia

Assistant Regional Head

Region 7

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