Right in the center of Barangay Tagumpay, Coron-Busuanga, Palawan is the store and manufacturing site of an 82-year-old lady entrepreneur by the name of Lita Escarda.
We were amazed at Nanay Lita’s story as she narrates her journey from being a small time supplier of cashew nuts to being the most popular cashew manufacturer in Coron.
Nanay Lita said she started small by simply planting, harvesting and selling cashew nuts to bigger stores and business outlets. However, the biggest setback she experienced 40 years ago, was when a business partner failed to pay her after receiving the supply. Nanay Lita admitted that although she had the desire to sue the company, she could barely do so because she felt that she lacked the means and education. She was not aware of her legal entitlements and felt the she has no capacity to pay a lawyer, considering that they were already broke.
Financial desperation led her to sell her own harvest. She said she had no choice, otherwise, they would have nothing to eat after the mishap. It was not easy at first, but later on, when she learned about the tricks of the trade, they were able to get by, until her cashews became popular among tourists and even foreign investors.
Nanay Lita shared that a foreign investor from Bangladesh even offered to market her cashews in their country. However, she refused the offer because she had no machines to supply the required amount of products on a regular basis. Besides, cashews are also seasonal fruits, abundant during summer but low on Christmas.
We were surprised that nobody offered support to boost her business, considering that her store and manufacturing site is already considered a tourist attraction. Nanay Lita said she needed more advanced machines to speed up processing.
Nanay Lita’s cashew nuts tasted so good. We witnessed locals and tourists buying her products attesting to its superb quality. We hope that the local government and officials in charge of tourism in Coron, Palawan could extend help. Her business is an asset to the place, providing income to cashew workers, mostly students who are in need of part time jobs for sustenance.
If you happen to visit Coron, make sure to visit the factory of Lita Escarda’s Coron Harvest, and treat yourself with her cashew delicacies: Garlic (very crunchy), Sun Dried, Brittle (Sweet and cooked with honey), Bandi (Traditional way of cooking the cashews, sweetened and caramelized with a hint of coco flavor), and Toasted Cashews. Her products are Filipino pride!