Rice is considered as a staple food in Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines. This makes farmers a vital part of society. They farm to provide food for the people. This includes Rosemarie Centina, also known as “Tita Mayeth”, a 61-year-old farmer who hails from Luisiana, Laguna.
Tita Mayeth is the eldest in a brood of 10 and, as a child, her parents taught her how to farm. She and two of her siblings ventured into rice farming as it was through this that her youngest siblings were able to finish college.
“Sa pagsasaka kinuha ang pampa-aral sa kanila. Yung dalawa kong kapatid parehong chemical engineer na. Tapos yung isa ay teacher,” Tita Mayeth shared.
Taking the responsibility
When her mother stopped farming due to old age, Tita Mayeth, being the eldest child, took the responsibility of taking care and managing their rice field.
For almost 20 years, Tita Mayeth has been into the farming business. Before, they were only tenants until they bought it in 2000. Today, her family owns three and a half hectares of rice field.
Building farming capacity
Countless trainings have been on the list of priorities for Tita Mayeth. She was awarded as the “Outstanding Rice Farmer” from 2005 to 2007.
“Kapag my sinabing seminar ako nama’y pirming ready. Dahil ang katwiran ko nga, hindi ka matututo kung hindi ka a-attend ng mga seminar. Di para sa sarili laang, para makatulong din sa iba,” she said. She added that attending trainings lessened expenses and resulted in an increase in rice yield.
She described that “Noong ako ay di pa naga-attend ng training, napakadami nang nagagamit na binhi. Nitong ako ay naka-attend ng mga seminar, ang 40 kilos na binhi ay nagkakasya na sa isang ektarya, yun ay certified. Pero ‘pag sa hybrid, nagkakasya na ang 10 kilos. Yung 20 kilos ay talagang sobra-sobra na. Kaya napakalaking natitipid. Sa ani naman ay talagang nakaranas kami halos na naging triple ang palay. Nakaranas kami dito ng isang ektarya, nung ako ay mag Gawad Saka, ng hanggang 180. Nung kami ay nag-hybrid noon, umabot ng 10 tons isang ektarya.”
To date, Tita Mayeth still attends trainings and workshops to continue learning and apply techniques in rice production.
When her husband died, farming became the main source of income for the family. “Nung mga anak ko ay nag-aaral sa highschool, ang gastos talaga ay kinukuha sa pagsasaka ang pambaon. Hanggang sila ay mag-college, sa pagsasaka ko pa rin kinukuha,” she highlighted.
The eldest child, Rosalyn, graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Commerce from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. While her two youngest sons, Rodolfo Jr. and Ricardo, both graduated from Electromechanic Technology in Dualtech Center, Canlubang, Laguna. They are now both working in a renowned aircraft company. Rodolfo Jr. is happily married with a daughter and currently working in Etihad Airways based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates as a structural mechanic. The youngest child, Ricardo, has been working in Lufthansa Technik in Pasay City, Philippines for nine years as a Senior Toolkeeper.
Aside from rice farming, Tita Mayeth also plants organic vegetables as another source of income. She also has fish (tilapia) pond. As a member of the Rural Improvement Club, she also makes dishwashing liquid and is into food processing as well.
In spite of all her triumphs, Tita Mayeth also experienced struggles in life. One of these was the calamity brought by typhoons. “Nakaranas nga kami noon na pag-bagyo, ‘pag tumingin ako sa aking gulayan at yung palay, talagang lahat ay nakabuwal. Ang tingin sa tubigan ay parang dagat,” she recalled.
However, never did Tita Mayeth think of giving up and lose verything she has started. Instead, this misfortune only made her better and continue doing great things. “Sabi nga ni nanay ay para man ding ‘di ikaw namomroblema. Kitang kita mo na sirang sira. Eh ‘di pag nasira ayusin. Taniman uli, magtanim uli,” she quipped.
Tita Mayeth advices other farmers to continue learning and adopt new technologies for the progress of their rice fams. “Huwag silang titigil ng pag-aaral. Kahit sabihin na tayo ay nasa pagsasaka ay kailangan dire-diretso ang ating pag-aaral para makaranas tayo ng magandang ani. Kung ano ang tinuturo ay sundin naman,” she expressed.
Indeed, Tita Mayeth sets a good example and serves as a true inspiration not only to her fellow farmers but also to all Filipinos.
Story by: Jamila Monette B. Balmeo