Inspiring Couple Starts From Nothing
Zenaida, 55 and Domingo Guray, 60 of Maria Aurora, Aurora started with nothing when they got married in 1979. They never experienced having expensive gifts unlike other newlyweds who started comfortably.

All they can remember was a small piggybank. The couple grew up poor so they were used to living in poverty. Zenaida was working as a household help when she met Domingo or Domeng, a farmer.

When they decided to get married, life became harder for the couple that at times they have nothing to eat.

They even experienced sleeping in a portion of a small pigpen. They used old cartons as walls and beds to make the pigpen more suitable for living.

"Only a carton wall separated us from the pigs," recalls Zenaida.

To make a living and overcome the difficulties of life, Zenaida and Domeng did odd jobs like working as planter and harvester for landowners. Zenaida miscarried twice because of extreme hardship.

From the P5 salary every day, the Guray’s survived their daily meals just by having bagoong (fish paste) and rice.

The couple knew the reality that they have nothing. That is why they strive hard and saved spare amount of their earnings for their piggybank. They tightened their belts even more and was able to save P500 which they used to buy their first piglet.

"We cannot afford to buy feeds so we just gathered leaves like kangkong and camote to feed our piglet," says Zenaida.

It took seven months for it to grow and be sold for P2,000. They bought another one which they were able to sell at P5,000. Usually, pigs fed with commercial feeds grow faster and can be sold after four months.

Things are going well for the couple when tragedy struck and left Domeng incapacitated for a long time. Because of what happened Zenaida decided to stop the business as she need to take care of Domeng.

"When my husband got involved in an accident, I had no choice but to stop our business because I cannot gather leaves for our piglet anymore. I need to take care of my husband," relates Zenaida.

After several years, Domeng was able to recover from the tragic episode and they restarted their hog raising business. The couple decided to buy one sow and raised their own hogs.

"We bought our first sow to save money, and although it was more difficult, at least we could raise more hogs," adds Zenaida.

In the early 90’s, Domeng's uncle entrusted him with a one-hectare rice field. The income from the farm and piggery enabled them to expand their business and build a tilapia fishpond.

Having experienced the difficulty of not having their own house, Zenaida took a housing loan from Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI) program and built a small house for them and for her father. She also availed other loans to purchase commercial feeds for hogs, construct new pigpens and add more piglets for fattening.

They now have a three-hectare land giving them good returns every harvest season. They were able to construct additional pigpens and open additional fishpond for growing tilapia.

From living in a section of a pigpen before, Zenaida and Domeng are now comfortably living in their own house and managing their profitable businesses. Knowing how it feels of living with nothing, the couple decided to involve their relatives in their farming activities for them to live out of something.

Helping their relatives is one of biggest achievements for the couple, "We help our relatives in sending them to school. We know how it is to be poor, so we should help our families rise out of poverty," Zenaida shared.

Zenaida and Domeng dared to step out of their boundaries. That is why in 2008, she was given a special citation during the awarding ceremony of the Microentrepreneur of the Year Award as the most inspiring awardee for turning extreme hardship to productivity.

The Guray’s did not dwell much on their being poor, never regarded poverty as a curse; they rise and prove to themselves and to others that poverty is not a hindrance to success.
"We help our relatives in sending them to school. We know how it is to be poor, so we should help our families rise out of poverty."
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