Municipal and City Agriculturists steam up Naga

We might say that the 9th National Convention of the Devolved Agriculturists of the Philippines, Inc. (DAPI) held May 13 to 15, 2009 at Villa Caceres Hotel in Naga City was punctuated by announcements… some were good, some very good, and a few not so good.
 
Before the Opening Program, the Master of Ceremonies, the Ms. Zeny Marcos of Region 12, announced the happy news that a mobile phone left by a delegate from Region 1 inside a tricycle was returned by the honest tricycle driver. That brought out applause from the participants.
 
Mr. Frank Mendoza, City Administrator of Naga and concurrently Budget Officer as well as Acting City Agriculturist, who gave the Welcome Message, said that DOH had just declared Naga City A-H1N1 virus-free. Tests on a child suspected to be infected by the virus proved negative. That was at least one worry thankfully out of the way.
 
During his Message, the steadfast helmsman of ATI, Director Asterio Saliot, said he had received text messages from several DAPI members who will not attend the convention, either because their local government units could not support their travel and registration expenses, or they themselves opted not to attend because “nothing was happening” -– they no longer cared, they were discouraged, and they would not attend the convention anymore. Director Saliot expressed his disappointment that they waivered in their fight. The Local Government Code had repercussions, yes –- painful ones. Impassioned and candid, Director Saliot announced what is plain to see -– there is no going back. ATI formed the Extension Bill to pick the pieces up and once more define the vision of agricultural extension workers.
 
Among other things, the bill’s passage would mean that the national government will dispense programs to the local level (which is already happening) and will provide the salaries for its agriculture workers (which is not happening), agriculture workers’ salaries will be standardized across national agencies and local government units (except high-income LGUs that already pay good salaries to their workers), as well as subject matter specialist positions and more room for promotion will ensue. It was however the Director’s announcement that should the Extension Bill be enacted, appointment of agriculture personnel at provincial, city and municipal levels will done by the Secretary of Agriculture or the Director of the Extension Bureau (after conferring with the Governor or Mayor), that the delegates visibly appreciated.
 
Early the second day, it was announced that the Municipal Agriculturist of Lebak, Sultan Kudarat, Ms. Nenita Frias, had a mild stroke and was brought to a hospital. Deeply concerned, the delegates rushed to collect voluntary cash assistance to support the medical expenses. The day before, it was announced that a delegate had lost her kit, inside which were the very necessary meal tickets and plane ticket for the flight back home. It turned out the delegate was Ms. Frias. We hope and pray that she is better now, and whoever inadvertently took her kit found the good grace to give it back to her.
 
A bonus for Catholics -– a Holy Mass was held on May 14, which was feast day of St. Matthias, the officiating priest said. After the Ascension of Jesus, the apostles elected another one to take the place of Judas who had betrayed Jesus. An apostle is “one who is sent,” the priest said. Not one who follows, as I would have thought. An apostle is an ordinary man or woman who does ordinary things in extraordinary way – i.e., with extraordinary love, explained the Mass celebrant. Would you not say that the Good Lord is trying to say something to us government workers here?
 
Needless to say, Director Saliot, Undersecretary Jesus Emanuel Paras, ATI Assistant Director Alberto Maningding, and Ms. Niet Arceo our adorable Chief of Knowledge Products and Services spiced up the occasion. After Ms. Niet’s usual informative and interesting discussion, she announced that those interested to register for an online course would be welcome and would be assisted in the rear part of the hall. A great number of delegates flocked to the area to be registered or enrolled in a course.
 
DAPI’s National President, Ms. Jesusa Noveda, acknowledging Director Saliot’s concern for agricultural workers, called him “our every- loving director” without whom there would be no DAPI to speak of.
 
Who would not find inspiration in the passage read by our Director from his phone? “Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is already gone. Do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. It is better to fail in doing something, than to excel in doing nothing,,, people who have no failures also have few victories, or no victories at all. Sometimes a winner is just a dreamer who never gives up.” More about the 9th National Convention of DAPI at ATI-RTC 5's website at http://www.ati.da.gov.ph/bicol/.