Ermie Mayor arrived at her mother’s house after making the rounds in Dayhagan Pilar, Balasan Iloilo. She had sold a whole bilao (winnowing basket) of banana-que (deep fried bananas with caramelized sugar on a stick) and bicho bicho (deep fried doughnut coated with brown sugar) that her mother prepared in the morning. She had been sweltering under the blazing afternoon sun while balancing a bilao on her head, stopping by the nearby school and houses to offer her mother’s special banana-que and bicho bicho. She made about 500 PHP ($11.90) in profits each week — barely enough to feed Ashley, her four-year-old daughter and Jun, her six-month-old baby.
She missed Bonifacio, her husband, a skilled furniture manufacturer, who was temporarily assigned in the beach area to make furniture for a building owner. She had met him in Boracay when she was an office assistant for a small firm. After they married and settled in Balasan, Ermie borrowed funds from Progressive Bank to finance her husband’s furniture-making. Progressive Bank’s microcredit loans come with a microinsurance product that covers the borrower and two dependents. The microinsurance offered through the bank in partnership with an insurance company is designed as a low-cost policy suitable for low-income people.
One stormy night in April 2011, Bonifacio was struck and killed by lightning. His death was a shock to Ermie and her children, but the microinsurance from Progressive Bank and its insurance partner, Pioneer Insurance Company, helped her and her family continue with their lives.