Crossing mountains and fields, Leonardo Macalam, 60, farmer, walked for almost 3 hours for three days – from August 29 to 31, 2017 to reach the training venue before the 8:00 AM start time. His journey starts from their house in Brgy. Sawang to Brgy. Macalas, Romblon, Romblon with his pair of slippers as his so-called “transportation means”.
Brgy. Sawang is almost 20 kms. to Brgy. Macalas where the Training on Gender and Development themed “Empowering Rural Households through Mushroom Production” was held. Leonardo said, if he will pass by the town, he will have to walk for 30 minutes from their house to the town and ride a tricycle (usual means of transportation in the area) that will take 1 hour to the venue. But unfortunately, during the time of training, he had no penny in his pocket, thus, to quicken his trip, he took a shortcut, crossing mountains and fields.
“I started walking at 5:30 AM, because I don’t want to be late during discussion. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to learn by being late,” Leonardo said.
After more than two hours of hiking uphill and downhill, walking under the sun’s heat, Leonardo finally arrived at the barangay hall of Macalas. He was already soaked in sweat, weariness evident on his face.
But he said that his tiredness was eventually gone when the resource speaker started the discussion and gradually learned the process of mushroom cultivation. Leonardo together with his co-participants also experienced the hands-on activities on mother tissue culture and spawn production.
On the second day, it was raining and the slopes became slippery and dangerous, causing his slippers to break. However, it didn’t hinder him to attend the training. With broken slippers, he walked through rain and mud just to get to the venue. After he changed his shirt which was wet from the rain, he eagerly listened again to resource speaker and participated. He learned the proper fruit bagging and putting of cultured tissue in the fruit bags.
After they finished all the hands-on activities and open forum, the training shifted to the discussion on Gender and Development. “It was a very worthwhile discussion,” said Leonardo. “We became aware of the rights and contributions of women, that we, men, should value,” he added.
As the training ended, each of the participants brought home their outputs during the hands-on activities. Also, Leonardo said that since he already knew how to cultivate a mushroom tissue culture, he will do it at home. Although, some materials needed for the production is not available in the area, but he will find a way to have those.
Leonardo also received a pair of slippers in exchange of his broken slippers and a gift for his sacrifices and dedication for coming in on the training.