A couple’s story: Teacher-and seaman-turned carapreneurs

Beyond idyllic beaches, Olivia and Manuel Palazo of Brgy. San Roque, Alaminos found their “white gold” in carabao’s milk. Their tenacity in dairying brought them out of their unfavorable situation and led them to a new start and better tomorrow.(Photo by Charlene Joanino)

Alaminos City is a 4th class municipality in the province of Pangasinan, which entices local and foreign tourists for its famous Hundred Island National Park. For many tourists, it is a common favorite because of the well-protected scenery.

The islands, which are believed to be two million years old, can easily mesmerize tourists, thus, provide business opportunities for local residents e.g., island and beach hopping.

While this is so, a couple from Brgy. San Roque chose to fix their eyes on a different, albeit more challenging venture. Theirs was to mine a treasure that they consider as “white gold”.  This is not the precious metal that is used to make jewelry but the nutrient-rich whitish liquid that is buffalo’s milk. 

Manuel and Olivia Palazo had no regrets shifting from one profession to another. While they were earning more than enough as a seaman and as a teacher, respectively, they both agree that dairying is a better choice.

“It’s easy money and we don’t need to work long hours every day so we get to spend more time with each other now unlike before,” Olivia said.

The couple believes that working with the family makes everything worthwhile. For them, it’s more than just a job, but a way of life and they see themselves engaged in this business for as long as they can.

Rough Start

Manuel and Olivia got involved in dairying in 2013 and just like many dairy farmers in Pangasinan, they started with crossbred buffaloes. While they were already producing milk, they slacked off and eventually totally stopped collecting and selling because of the lack of market demand.

They then ventured in various businesses such as soft drink dealing, poultry supply distributorship, and livestock raising. While these provided for the family, the business was taking up too much of their time and required more labor and capital.

New Market

With the hopes of selling their produce, Olivia opted to vend on the side of the street hoping that motorists and passers by would notice. The seemingly unfavorable situation paved way for new patrons— Indians who are willing to pay for milk higher than the regular price. Working only for at most 4 hours a day, they are now earning 900 to 1,100 pesos daily.

“What we are producing is not enough to supply their (Indian) demand. We needed to produce more,” Olivia added.

It may be a bumpy start but Manuel and Olivia pinned their hope on the potential of dairy buffalo business. In 2017, they were back in full swing and decided to sell all their other livestock to focus on buffaloes.

Great Tandem

Working together as a team is an important part of their daily lives. Manuel is in charge of gathering forage while Olivia prepares the animals for milking.

“Once a teacher, always a teacher.” This old adage still rings true with Olivia since she did not lose her passion for learning and teaching. It is Olivia’s task to participate in training and seminars and share all her learnings not just to her husband but also to the other farmers in their community. She is an accredited Farmer Livestock School on Dairy Buffalo Production (FLS-DBP) facilitator. She facilitated the first FLS-DBP in Pangasinan together with her co-facilitators trained by PCC.

With the couple’s committed teamwork, they are able to achieve promising results. The income they earn from dairying not only provides for their daily basic needs but also partially pays for a property, which they initially planned on selling someday to finance their daughter’s education. This plan, they said, might not pan out anyway because they are both faithful that their sales from milk can afford their daughter’s educational expenses.

Dreaming on together
With continuous hard work and patience, the Palazos hope to someday not only produce but also process  milk and put up their own processing facility. It is a dream that they are starting to work on. 
Their goal, however, is not to prosper just for themselves but for others as well by encouraging them to venture into dairy production.