NAGA CITY – “What we need in the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) are people (implementers) with the heart, para mai-angat sa kahirapan ang pinakamahihirap na mga Bicolano,” Dr. Elena B. delos Santos, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director and SAAD Bicol program director challenged the 23 newly hired SAAD program implementers as she welcomed them to the DA family. “Please have the heart to implement the program, because if you have the heart, nothing can go wrong,” she added.

Over 50 project implementers of the DA’s newest program Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) in Bicol attended the Strategic Action Planning and Workshop on the SAAD program and orientation on DA’s banner programs on January 4 to 5, 2018 in this city. It was also their first day in their new jobs as area coordinators, information and technology staff, and administrative assistants.

Director delos Santos urged the implementers to focus more on social preparation – the first component of the program – being the most difficult one. The other components are food production and provision of livelihood to the poorest of the poor communities.

Rodel P. Tornilla, DA Bicol OIC RTD for Operations and Extension and SAAD Bicol focal person cited that among all the 20 provinces nationwide which are now included in the SAAD under 2018 budget, Bicol region is among the recipients of the biggest chunk of budget as it has three provinces included – Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon, compared to other regions with only one province as SAAD beneficiary.

SAAD national program Director Bernadette San Juan affirmed RED delos Santos’ directive saying that with the right state of the heart, the mind and action will follow suit.

As starters, the SAAD implementers underwent training on community needs assessment and logical framework approach which were discussed by Justin dela Rueda of SAAD national program management office. To further equip them for the job, the SAAD implementers will also undergo series of training on community needs assessment geotagging and extension methodologies in the last week of January.

One of the newly hired SAAD area coordinators was Jose Barquero, 43 of Poblacion Mandaon, Masbate. He used to be an OFW in Dubai, and has worked as a community organizer for an NGO in Masbate. He is also a farmer tilling 4 hectares of rice and vegetables. He saw the SAAD vacancy posted in the DA Bicol facebook account and applied as area coordinator. Luckily, he passed the exams and he is looking forward to do his job as he said it is indeed a blessing to help his constituents get out from the quagmire of poverty and at the same time earn a living from it to support his growing family.

Sarah Jane Clemente, 27 of Virac Catanduanes is an Environment Management graduate from the Ateneo de Naga University. She said that her experience in a US-based NGO particularly in needs assessment and as a former DENR enforcement division staff, can help her hurdle the challenges she can see in the project implementation as the deliverables of the program were laid out to them during the orientation.

Meanwhile, Daisy Guadamor, 50 of Sorsogon City used to work as NIA irrigators development officer. She learned the vacancy from the DA Bicol website ( She is very confident in her new post as area coordinator of the selected program sites in Sorsogon as those areas are very familiar with her as she used to do ground works there while she was with NIA. She also worked as training officer for an NGO in CARAGA region.

With their educational qualification, training skills, expertise and experience, SAAD Bicol faces a bright prospect of a successful implementation. (Lovella P. Guarin DA RAFIS 5 / photos by Eduardo Collantes, Jr.)