“I am just a cancer survivor po. Naging VAWC victim din po ako. Pero salamat sa Panginoon dahil lagi Niyang itinatayo ang bandera ko ng pagkababae—na dapat ipaglaban ko ito para sa sarili ko, para sa mga anak ko, para sa komunidad, at sa buong mundo lalo na sa mga kababaihan. Kasi kung wala pong lalaban para sa ating mga sarili, sino pa ang tatayo po para sa atin?”
Mylin V. Tayapad conveyed a mix of joy, disbelief, and gratitude in her acceptance speech as she bagged the National Winner award of the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s Search for Outstanding Rural Women (SORW) 2023.
The 43-year-old mother of six hails from Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, where she cultivates a two-hectare land using organic and eco-friendly farming practices. She is also a respected woman farmer-leader in her community, a steward of agriculture, health, and women’s rights as well as for bridging the gap between members of her community and the DA.
“Sana po marami pang kababaihan ang maengganyo ngayong mag-serve sa kapuwa natin. ‘Wag kayong mag-expect na may kapalit kasi ang Panginoon, nagbibigay po talaga Siya ng blessing sa tamang panahon. Maglingkod lang po tayo nang walang measure at all,” shared the SORW 2023 National Winner.
Tayapad also acknowledged the DA which, she said, paved the way for her to reach greater heights.
“Ang [DA Regional Field Office X] Director po namin na napakabait po at saka ang mga staff po ng DA. Kasi kung hindi nila ako nakita, hindi po ako makakarating dito. ‘Yong katuparan pala ng pangarap ko—na sana ma-recognize man lang po ang mga paghihirap ng women sa rural areas dahil akala ko hanggang doon lang kami na magbasok-basok ng lupa, maglampas-lampas—ngayon, nandito na ako sa malaking stage at nakakapagsalita nang ganito.”
The SORW is an annual recognition bestowed by the DA through the Gender and Development Focal Point System (GFPS) to Filipina farmers and fisherfolk from the rural areas who have exhibited stellar performance and contribution to agricultural and community development.
This year, six other nominees also took home recognitions. They are:
- Marivic C. Dubria, Region XI (First Runner-up);
- Josephine P. Lay-os, Cordillera Administrative Region (Second Runner-up);
- Thelma T. Alabon, Region II (Third Runner-up);
- Gina B. Deypuyart, Region XII (Fourth Runner-up);
- Vilma O. Coronel, Region V (National Finalist); and
- Agrifina A. Gabres, Region III (Special Citation).
The nominees were selected and evaluated by the Board of Judges (BOJ) led by DA Undersecretary for Finance Agnes Catherine T. Miranda in her concurrent role as Chairperson of the DA-GFPS. She is supported by the DA-GFPS Vice Chairpersons, namely Assistant Secretary for DA Inspectorate and Enforcement James A. Layug and DA Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs and Department Legislative Liaison Officer Genevieve E. Velicaria-Guevarra, as well as the members of the SORW National Technical Committee (NTC).
The BOJ is composed of Psyche Mae A. Asencio from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Maria Kristine Josefina G. Balmes from the Philippine Commission on Women, Sem H. Cordial from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, Mira Leah B. Patio from the Land Bank of the Philippines, and Mary Ann P. Sayoc from the East-West Seed Company.
“Kinakatawan ng ating SORW 2023 national awardees ang kuwento ng bawat kababaihan sa kanayunan—ang kanilang matapang na pagharap sa diskriminasyon at iba pang hamon ng buhay; ang kanilang madiskarteng pagtugon sa nagbabagong klima, mga sakit at peste, at iba pang suliranin ng kanilang kabuhayan; at ang kanilang pagbabahagi ng mga kaalaman, oportunidad, at inspirasyon sa kanilang kapuwa,” said Usec. Miranda.
Through the Undersecretary, Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel relayed his message of support to the country’s rural women, specifically noting some of the DA’s GAD-related achievements. These include the allocation of over P10.5 billion for GAD initiatives, provision of production support services, distribution of agricultural equipment and machinery, conduct of capacity-building activities, expansion of marketing opportunities, and extending access to financial credit and services.
“Habang kinikilala at pinararangalan natin ang talino, galing, at sipag ng SORW winners natin, magpasya tayong pagbutihin pa lalo ang ating mga pagsisikap na maiangat at mapabuti ang buhay ng mga kababaihan sa kanayunan. Let us recommit ourselves to the national effort to make ours a country where women are accorded the respect and opportunities they rightfully deserve. And let us double our efforts to allow them the support they need to raise their families in peace and to contribute to national progress and food security to the best and fullest of their talents and abilities,” Secretary Tiu Laurel expressed. ### (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)