“Wala kami nagduha-duha sa pagtambong sa mga tapok-tapok, paghugpong tinabangan sa DAR ug NGO, nagdahum ug nagsalig na maangkon ang yuta nga gitikad bisan kini gipanag-iyahan sa mga dagkung tag-iya sa yuta.” (We did not hesitate in attending meetings, organizing ourselves with the help of DAR personnel and NGO, believing and trusting that the land we till will be awarded to us even if the land is owned by big, powerful, resistant land-owners.)
Paul Bagaoy Agsaway, after two years of working under a land owner Avancena Landholdings, he was awarded with approximately 2.5 hectares under CARP. Paul stated that because of the land awarded by DAR, plus the support services and capability building interventions coupled with their own steadfast, appropriate utility and development techniques of the awarded lot, it brought blessings to their family. When Paul was 16 years old, he went to E. Luna, Cabadbaran to live with his uncle, a farm-worker of Sixto Eyana. He then worked in the farm where his uncle worked. In 1980, he met Teodora Modoc and got married in 1984.
Insurgency problems in E. Luna in 1985 drove them to Sanghan, Cabadbaran.
From 1986, Paul became a lessee of the Atega Estate in Sanghan, cultivating one-hectare of land. During the 1990’s, the DAR issued a notice of coverage for the 160-hectare landholding of spouses Antonio and Carmen Avancena. The tenants and farm workers of the Avancenas preferred to side with their landlord, they never believed that the DAR can cover and distribute the 160 hectares. Hence, they did not heed the call of DAR to accomplish required documents for the land transfer. DAR then enlisted qualified farmer-workers in the adjacent landholdings that included Paul Agsaway. Paul and the rest of the potential beneficiaries of the Avancena Estate who believe in the mandate of CARP eventually received the CLOA in 1992.
From 1986 to 1997, production costs for the cultivated 3 hectares rice land were sourced out from external borrowings. Fortunately, Brgy. Sanghan was launched as an Agrarian Reform Community in 1993 and various support services poured in. From infrastructure facilities (communal irrigation project, FMRs, PHFs) to institutional and agricultural development support.
The farmers availed the production loans extended by the Agrarian Reform Support Project (ARSP) and later on with the Cooperative Bank of Agusan del Norte. What made them prosper as rice farmers is that they invested money, effort, and time heartily in the farm lands.
While waiting for the harvest, they planted vegetables and crops (ampalaya, tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, beans) earning a net income of P 7,000 per week. Their income from the vegetables and crops was more than enough to sustain their daily needs and for the schooling of their 3 siblings. Moreover, the farmers were able to pay in full the rice production loan. Every year, the farmers allocated and paid P 5,000 to the Land Bank of the Philippines for their land amortization. With their savings out of their farm income, starting 1999 they have already self-financed their rice production. Harvested “ Palay” were also no longer disposed to traders, but instead stored and sold as milled rice.
The couple, both active officers of the Avancena Beneficiaries MPC since their struggle in 1990 until to date, voluntarily made themselves available to their cooperative and farmer-members as farmer-technologists.
The couple also said that, “Ug sa tanan nilang nakab-ot labi na ang yuta, kini ila gigamit sa ensakto, gipalampo ug gapahinungod sa ginoo.” (For all the blessings and properties they acquired, especially the land, they make sure to it to use it properly and continually make them productive, dedicating them to God Almighty.)