SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR – A 62-year old farmer and chieftain of Agta Tabangnon Tribe in San Vicente, Buhi, Camarines Sur is this year’s regional winner in the Search for Outstanding Rural Woman or Katangi-tanging Kababaihan sa Kanayunan in Bicol.

Vilma Coronel received the P50,000 cash award on September 13, 2023 during the simple awarding ceremony held at the PMED Audio Visual Room at DA Compound.

Coronel cultivates a 2.9–hectare integrated farm where she grows rice, corn, vegetables and coconut. She also processes coconut husk into different products like ropes and plant holders. But the major income earner on her farm is her hybrid corn. Just recently, she harvested 220 sacks of dried hybrid corn (at 50 kilos per sack) from her 1.3-hectare corn area which she sold at P18.00 per kilo in a local comprada. Hence, she earned a gross sales of P198,000.00. Based on her harvest, her average yield is 8.46 MT/hectare which is a far cry from the 2022 regional average yield of 3.92 MT/Ha.

She was teary-eyed during the awarding as she admitted that it was her first time to be recognized for an award. “Bilang leader po ako ng tribo, ngayon lang ako nakaranas ng ganitong patimpalak, May karapatan din po pala kami bilang tribo. Dae ko po talaga malilingawan an tabang kan DA dahil halos gabos po na pangangaipo nyamo, hali po igdi sa DA region 5 saka sa LGU ng Buhi. Dae po matatawaran an tabang nindo samo. Lalo na pag may mga kalamidad, yaon po tulos an pag responde ninda,” she said.

She thanked DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla, GAD focal person Aloha Gigi Banaria and other DA staff for the support extended to her.

Meanwhile, the 1st runner-up was Mercy M. Bajado of Bula, Cam. Sur. She received P30,000. The 2nd runner up was Judith Tolledo of Gigmoto, Catanduanes. Tolledo received P20,000. She was accompanied by Mayor Vicente Tayam of Gigmoto. Gilda B. Rafer of San Vicente, Cam. Norte and Maria Luz Barcelon of Daraga Albay received P5,000 consolation prizes plus garden tools.

Coronel is Bicol Region’s contender to the National Search for Outstanding Rural Women and she was one of the seven contenders who qualified for the national competition.Aloha Gigi I. Banaria, GAD focal person, said that the search for Outstanding Rural Woman is an annual undertaking to recognize the efforts and contributions of rural women in nation building. She added that another awarding ceremony will be held in Sonrisa Farm in Magarao, Cam. Sur on October 12, 2023.

Mayor Vicente Tayam of Gigmoto thanked the DA. “Natawan importansya an kahigusan kan mga kababaihan, lalo na ang mga IPs. Sana padagos pa an arog kaining programa….Kan mga naka-aging aldaw may nag-abot samuya pirang trucks nin abono kaya an bilog na paraoma kan Gigmoto, maugmahon. Willing kaming mag receive kan gabos na programa kan DA,” added Mayor Tayam.

The awarding was graced by Regional Technical Director for Operations Luz R. Marcelino; 2017 Outstanding Rural Woman and RAFC Sectoral Committee Chairperson on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Rebecca S. Purisima; members of DA 5 GAD focal system including representatives from BFAR, ATI, and PhilFIDA. (Lovella P. Guarin – RAFIS 5) (Photos by Eduardo Collantes, Jr. and Hermito Privaldos)