PASAY CITY, METRO MANILA – “Nag-umpisa kami sa sobrang hirap sa buhay na kung hindi ka magsaka hindi ka aani. Dun nabuo yung motto ko na kung hindi ako magtatanim, wala akong aanihin, wala kaming magandang buhay,” said corn farmer Angelita Cerillo of Brgy. Libod Tigaon, Camarines Sur as she recounts her humble beginnings.
Winning the Most Outstanding Corn Farmer Award, Cerillo was among the 20 awardees during the 48th Gawad Saka Parangal sa mga Natatanging Magsasaka at Mangingisda Awarding Ceremony held at the Philippine International Convention Center on October 22, 2019. She was the first female corn farmer from Bicol to bag the said award. She received a certificate of recognition, trophy and P250,000 cash award.
An innovator and early adopter of agricultural technology, Cerillo’s five-hectare farm served as a venue for techno-demo projects and as a model farm for the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bicol’s Site Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM) research. With careful application of innovative production technologies from seed selection, land preparation, planting, pest and diseases management, harvesting to postharvest practices, her farm boasts an average production of 11 tons per hectare.
“Na-encourage ako ng Department of Agriculture, na-build up nila ako, nahubog nila ako sa mga bagong kaalaman na nai-share nila sa akin para makamit ko ang magandang ani, magandang buhay para sa aking pamilya… Talagang hindi matatawaran ang aking nakamit na tagumpay at ang aking nakamit na premyo o karangalan sa buhay kong ito. Sana maging model po ako at inspirasyon ng kapwa ko magsasaka ng mais,” she said.
DA-Bicol OIC-Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla and Tigaon Municipal Agriculturist Lea M. Beltran accompanied Cerillo at the stage together with the representatives of the DA-Bicol Gawad Saka Committee.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin M. Andanar, who represented President Rodrigo R. Duterte during the occasion, regarded the awardees as heroes for their perseverance and sacrifices in providing food for the Filipino people. He also reaffirmed President Duterte’s vision to give every Filipino a life of comfort and dignity with the basic premise of adequate food on every table.
In his message, Department of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar thanked the farmers, fisherfolk, researchers scientists and other Gawad Saka awardees. He also underscored the DA’s renewed commitment to champion the farmers and fisherfolk’s causes and advancing their welfare. Gawad Saka is the most prestigious award being given by the DA to exceptional farmers and fisherfolk with valuable contribution to growth in the agricultural and fisheries sector. The 48th Gawad Saka Awarding Ceremonies honored 11 individual and 9 group achievers in 5 categories namely crops, livestock, fishery, institutions and agricultural research. #Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita(Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)