SALVADOR "BUDDY" SOLMIANO JR., grandson of farmer Felomino Solmiano, has finally received the Emancipation Patent (EP) for his family's cherished land after 45 years of struggle.
The 2.3-hectare land planted with rice, vegetables, and fruits is located in Barangay Telegrafo, five kilometers from San Jose proper, Camarines Sur.
"Growing up, I witnessed the daily struggles faced by my grandfather’s family in tilling the land. I promised myself that I would carry on their legacy because this land has been feeding our family for decades now," said Mang Buddy, a farmer-fisherman.
Mang Buddy's grandfather and father struggled for their land title for nearly 45 years, dealing with a difficult bureaucratic process and enduring multiple setbacks.
He was one of the fortunate farmers who met President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. when he came to Camarines Sur on March 16, his first presidential visit to this province.
"While I was waiting for my turn to receive the motorized banca from BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), President Marcos approached me. I am grateful to our President for letting me to speak with him at that moment."
Mang Buddy got the President's ear by telling him about his family's stories and concerns.
"I conveyed my sentiments to him and was not disappointed. He listened promptly and acted quickly on my plea," he recounted.
"The President's prompt intervention paved the way for the issuance of the land title, which I am now holding," he said.
Mang Buddy is one of the 1,172 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Bicol who received electronic land titles (e-titles) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Friday, July 7, at the Fuerte Camarines Sur Sports Complex in Pili, Camarines Sur.
President Marcos signed the New Agrarian Emancipation Act of 2023, which will write off the P57.56 billion debt owed by 610,054 ARBs countrywide.
"I'm emotional today because my grandfather and father have both died without seeing their dream of owning the land become a reality. Now that I am close to 63 years old, I am overjoyed because I am one of the thousands of farmers from Bicol and around the country who have witnessed this historic moment,” said Mang Buddy during his acceptance speech at the event.
"I have waited for this for a long time, from my grandfather and father, and now the land finally belongs to me, to our family," he added.
Mang Buddy envisions a brighter future for himself and his family now that he has possession of the land title.
"My heartfelt thanks to President Marcos, and Secretary Conrado M. Estrella III for this land. I now don’t fear the future because I have this land to pass on to my children. This land title symbolizes not only ownership for us [farmers], but also an answered prayer, fulfilled dreams, transformed lives, new hope, and the promise of a bountiful future for our families and our nation," he said.
Mang Buddy likewise thanked DAR Regional Director Reuben Theodore C. Sindac, DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officers Renato O. Bequillo, Rodel C. Martirez, Adonis H. Dolanas, and Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Jemma C. Belaro, who stood by his side and provided unwavering support throughout his long struggle.
"The land you have given is a gift from God that I will cherish, ensuring that my family's connection to the land continues for many years to come. I swear to improve this land to the best of my ability, with the help of my family and the Divine Creator. Thank you to everyone," exclaimed Mang Buddy.
Mang Buddy's victory exemplifies the strength of perseverance and becomes a beacon of hope to other farmers facing similar situations.