Persistence Makes Sense

Success Story


(A DAR Farmer Beneficiary’s Story of Courage and Success)


“Ti nawadwad nga biag ket masarakan iti kaaw-awayan” (Bountiful life is found in the farms), Manong Kokoy said.


Not minding the burning rays of the sun, his eyes looked directly on the horizon towards the north in a green field as he uttered in excitement, “Those grains will fill our tables, the harvest seems to be plenty. Unlike other cropping periods in the past, this one is very good”. Asking his secret to a greener harvest, he said, “I have learned a lot in organic farming, it truly helps”.


The house is surrounded by a U-shaped fishpond teaming with fish.  Two floating rubberized plastic barrels about four and a half feet in length and three feet in diameter cut in halves serve as fishing boats. A self-made bridge was securely constructed above the fishpond to give access to the other side of the farm. The farm is planted with different fruit-bearing and non-fruit-bearing trees. A perfect place for a family who loves the countryside and a perfect place for a vacation.


On the west is a wide tract of agricultural land planted with corn owned by his brother Manong Kokoy. His machinery lies everywhere ready to pick up when needed. He owns a dump truck, two jeepneys being used for hauling products from the farm, a Pajero for family service, a tricycle, a single motor, and farm implements.


Roglen B. San Jose, fondly called Manong Kokoy by his family and friends, is a jolly fellow. He is born in a peaceful village in the heart of Tadian, Mountain Province on July 29, 1962. Looking for greener pastures and a wider tract of land to till, his parents landed in Liwan, Rizal, Kalinga when he was nine years old. When he was at the age of 23, he worked at National Irrigation Administration – Chico River Irrigation Project (NIA-CRIP) in Bulanao, Tabuk where he met his better half, Aida Bugnay Waking from Conner, Apayao. They got married in 1991. They were blessed with three children. The first child is a nurse in Finland, the second is with them on the farm and the third is working at the Bureau of Customs in Manila.


Originally, the subject lot was owned by a relative who migrated from Mountain Province to Kalinga, who eventually migrated to Nueva Vizcaya. Manong Kokoy’s grandparents purchased the lot sometimes in the 1980s but the papers were not perfected. Manong Kokoy narrated: “In the 1990s, my grandfather was lured to avail of farming equipment from the Rural Bank of Rizal through the loan.  He was not able to pay the amortizations until it was foreclosed. We had a hard time fixing the papers transferring from the original owner who was dead several years, to our names. It was hard because of the encumbrances on the original title. Thank God, DAR came at the right time for rescue. They processed all the papers, they worked on behalf of us until the individual titles reached our hands, this is the greatest legacy of the government to us and to any farmer who experienced the same.”


“I  started life as a farmer, and I will always love farming”, he said. “It was twenty years ago when we started developing this farm. We started with a small nipa hut here (pointing to where his concrete bungalow house lies now). This lot was idle before, no crops nor trees growing, just a wide tract of cogon grass. Only a small portion over there (pointing to where the corn was planted) was tilled by our parents and a few patches of rice land.  My father has a great dream of making this land a green scenery where his children and grandchildren find the joy of living, I realized my fathers’ dream was mine too”. He narrated.


He started the idea of planting bananas. If wild bananas thrive well in a place, then farm bananas can also live well there. He went as far as Paracelis, Mountain Province to get subual (banana shoots) from his friends and relatives and planted it. “Bananas grow well in this type of soil. They easily reproduce and we were able to propagate it. The banana shoots were distributed all over Liwan. That’s how banana came to Liwan,” he narrated.


“There is no wide rice fields in here but there is a promising source of water. I worked with the NIA at that time when my salary is meager to support a family of five. With all courage, I often hire farm equipment to improve this lot. I had worked with the NIA during the day and worked on this field after office hours too late in the evening. More rice fields were made and this empty pond before gradually turned into fishpond”. He told us.


He and his wife are also active members of the Rizal Multi-Purpose Cooperative (RIZAMPCO) and Bulanao Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BMPC). These are DAR-assisted cooperatives in Kalinga. Both of them are also members of the Tabuk Multi-Purpose cooperative - the billionaire cooperative in the province, where many members are DAR farmer-beneficiaries.


He recounts that during emergencies, when they are short of money to run the farm, the cooperatives are there ready to serve them. They borrow, they pay, and vice-versa. They also have access to the income-generating projects of the Rizal Multi-Purpose Cooperative. He proudly said in the Ilocano language “Adda met a ti mainaynayon diay share capital mi nga tinawen” (an amount is being added to our share capital yearly) referring to the dividend and patronage refund.


Rizal Multi-Purpose Cooperative offers programs such as loan, savings and marketing. Aside from these, they were given assistance by other stakeholders such as the barangay food terminal from the Department of Agriculture. Not only these, but they were able to acquire a water refilling station in which source of funds came from the income from tractors awarded by the DAR to them.


Manong Kokoy said that he often hires the farming implements given by DAR to the cooperative to use in his farm. Cooperative members availing of these implements are given discounts as stated in their policy.


He learned many things through training offered by DAR and other implementing agencies. Through these learnings, he said his knowledge is enhanced and his skills are improved. He is also a member of the LinkSFarm (linking smallholder farmers to the market).


He said, that through all this assistance, a farmer’s interest in farming is nurtured and hope arises. “Farming is a business. If you want to become a successful farmer, you need courage even if hope seems grim. You need to take risks, and you learn to love the heat of the sun. Farmers produce, not just for himself but for the others”, Manong Kokoy added.


Looking ahead of time, Manong Kokoy sees his farm as a fulfillment of his dreams, a greenfield where his seeds continue to nourish and cherish after him. – Kalinga Information Office.