Melecio P. Reguindin Jr, 45, of Ramos Tarlac, is not your typical farmer. He became an ultimate pride of his community after winning the National Gawad Saka for Outstanding Local Farmer Technician for two consecutive years in 2015 in Cebu City and just this April 2016 in Resorts World, Manila.
He never thought even once that being a full-time farmer is his true “calling”. He supposed that farming is his very last option for he knew he can do better in the academe than plowing the field.
Reguindin finished a vocational course in Information Technology in Tarlac. For eight years, he worked as an instructor at the United School of Science and Technology before he became as one of the incorporators of the Tarlac City Colleges.
In 2009, her father died leaving him and his 9 siblings a four-hectare farm land to till. He resigned from work and decided to manage their farm instead.
Before, he was persistent to try other options aside from farming, Mel as he is fondly called put up a small computer shop while conducting trainings for Alternative Learning System by DepEd and occasionally tapped as resource speakers by TESDA for its spearheaded short courses on computer repairs.
Hesitant at first, he began attending trainings on farming by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and later on became an active partner of DA and LGU Tarlac in promoting and disseminating rice farming technologies widely known as Local Farmer Technician (LFT).
Although he grew up in a farm and farming is the only living they rely on, he was one of the few who do not stick to conventional farming.
“Even when I was young, I am already exposed to farming because it was my father’s job, but only now did I discover that if only I had put my concentration in this field before, it would be more than okay if you would ask me. Managing the farm for me is an attainment, you can enjoy your work while earning. I believe that the money is in our farms, now that we have a technology called diversified farming system giving us a lot of options to choose as compared to the sector where I came from which is only limited,” Mel shared.
His persistence and willingness to learn is remarkable which made him one of the recipients of Palayamanan Project by the Department of Agriculture co-implemented by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Tarlac.
Palayamanan is a farming system that encourages farmers to diversify their farming ventures based on their capabilities and resources. The approach aims to maximize land use and combat malnutrition and poverty in the community.
Mel allotted 1.5 ha farm into a technology demonstration site which he now utilizes in planting different vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, eggplant, siling panigang, pechay and malunggay. He also allotted a portion of land for livestock and a small area for his tilapia production. His farm now serves as agricultural show-window where farmers and agricultural extensionists from the different LGU in Tarlac conduct its exploratory tours.
“Maganda po kasi kung diversified ang pamamaraan ng pagsasaka, marami pong pagkukunan ng income, kaya pag dating ng mga bagyo, marami kang options ng pagkukunan ng kita (It is good if the farming method you use is diversified, your sources of income is limitless, when typhoon strikes, you have plenty of options from your source of income),” he said.
BLESSING IN DISGUISE
In 2015, Mel won 2nd place in the Palayamanan project initiated by the Department of Agriculture. Along with the accolade, he was given a Php 50,000 worth of materials for the training center he was planning to establish.
He said his objective is to build a centralized training center for practical agriculture for the whole community of Ramos, Tarlac which will cater all the knowledge that he learned in Palaycheck, Palayamanan and Repair and Maintenance of Small Farm Engines.
Mel considered the training on Repair and Maintenance of Small Farm Engine a blessing in disguise for he already planned the programs that he will be integrating for the training center.
Together with the DA-LGU of Ramos, Tarlac, Mel was one of the LFTs chosen in Region 3 to attend a 6-day training on Repair and Maintenance of Small Farm Engine held last November 2015 at PhilSCAT.
“When I found out that PhilSCAT is conducting a training on small farm engine repair, I already knew that this is one of the courses that I will integrate for the learning center, because for sure if a farmer has a water system, there is also a water pump and it is indeed very timely learning,” Mel recounted.
He said that at first, he was uncertain if he can finish the training for he didn’t know anything at all about engines.
“When I took the pre-test and saw the questions, I said to myself, it’s not my line of work; but I really did persevere; after the training it so happened I got my exam and almost perfected it, maybe that is why they chose me as Most Improved and Most Active Participant during the training,” he recalled.
Mel said that this training is very efficient for farmers like him, for they will not worry anymore should the unit accidentally bogged down in the midst of work for they themselves can identify the problem and fix it firsthand.
Being the chairman of the Golden Pance Multi-purpose Cooperative and being a proactive LFT in their community, Mel helps his fellow farmers and the whole community by teaching them the knowledge that he acquired through the trainings he attended. He has a soft spot for his fellow farmers which made him more aggressive and eager to uplift their quality of lives.
He allots a day in a week to teach his members on Repair and Maintenance of Small farm engine by echoing the things he learned from PhilSCAT.
Mel uses an old gasoline engine water pump which he borrowed from his brother for demonstration purposes. He even uses his old hand-outs from the training and shoulder the production cost of the print materials for his co-farmers.
According to Mel, his SFE farmer-participants alone is close to 1,000, and soon as the training center materializes, he will be able to accommodate other willing farmers in the entire community of Ramos.
This is also what keeps him going, “through voluntary knowledge sharing I can somehow uplift their lives and also I believe in the saying teach man to fish instead of giving him a fish, whereas if you only give them what they need, there is a tendency that they might ask for it again when it’s gone.”
“Talaga pong masipag siya, matiyaga po syang nagtuturo sa amin kung ano ung mga parts ng makina, dati po wala akong kaalam alam sa makina, nagtatanong pa kami sa ibang mekaniko, ngayon po kayang kaya ko na (He is really diligent and persistent to teach us the different parts of the engine, before I don’t have any knowledge on engine repairs and ask other mechanics instead, now I can do it by myself,” Erwin P. Reguindin, 28, one of his brother and assistant recounted.
Because the award he received from the Palayamanan project is only for the materials of the center, Mel and his brother shouldered the labor and other expenses of the construction from their own pockets and hope to finish it by the end of the rainy season this year.
He said that he has continuous support to his co-farmers even after training. “My support to my co-farmers is continuous, I cannot let them down until their farm income is not yet sustainable, and that is my main objective.”
GOOD SEED, REAPS THE SWEETEST
Mel said that agriculture should not be taken for granted, because most young people nowadays have a hard time considering agriculture as a possible career.
He pointed out that one cannot shift himself and excel in a certain career if he doesn’t possess the passion for it.
“It really depends on one’s advocacy, if he is more than willing to learn it is not a problem to lead someone to go into agriculture, only if they are well guided. A child should be exposed to agriculture while they are still young, and most importantly, the values has to be instilled to them. When you sow good seed in a child, it will definitely reap sweet and carry it until they grow,” Mel said.
He said he will not get fulfilling his a mission. His optimism is remarkably inspiring for not every day that we see a devoter farmer like Mel.
“If you have a mission to fulfill, it seems like you are always strong, you are always inspired, you should not think of failing, that is my mindset every time,” Mel wrapped up. Patricia P. Bernal