From Disappointments to Appointments

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An Agriculturist’s Rise to Success

Richel, or Don-don as his peers call him, has inspired many farmers and technicians for many years through his skills and expertise. He is currently an agriculturist, a corn specialist, an agricultural trainer, and the current Training Specialist II at the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Region XI. However, the road to his professional career was not entirely a smooth highway.

Humble Beginnings

Richel was raised by a simple family at Bunawan Aplaya, Davao City. His father was a mechanic, while his mother was a plain housewife. As the eldest son of three children, he toiled day and night to finish
high school.

“Grabe jud namo ka pobre sa una. Nakapangita jud ko ug trabahoon para makahuman lang jud ko ug eskwela (We were extremely poor. I tried looking for work just to finish high school),” he said while gazing at a far distance.

At an early age of 13, Richel ventured to any kind of job he could get. He worked as a construction laborer, sold barbecues in their locality, and a mat vendor. “Mo bangon gyud ko ug alas singko sa kadlawon kada adlaw para makasugod ug pamaligya,” he proudly said. It was certainly a hard-knock life. (I had to wake up at five in the morning everyday to start selling.)

In 1995, he finished his secondary education with a desire to pursue AB English. Sadly, due to financial constraints, he had to stop.

Favor in Bohol

Discouraged, he decided to go to Bohol to assist in his aunt's general merchandising business—leaving the opportunity of tertiary education to his siblings.

While in Bohol at the age of 16, Richel saved hundred percent of his weekly salary worth P150.00. He also joined dance groups to perform in several competitions and other engagements for additional allowances and savings.

Months later, Richel's determination to get a degree in college triggered when he met the Barnabites Fathers, a group of missionary catholic priests who were looking for seminarian scholars for St. Paul's Academy. Richel passed the entrance exam and was invited to meet the priests in Davao.

In March 1996, Richel went back to Davao City expecting to meet the Barnabites Fathers again. He exclaimed, “Ni uli ko ug Davao kay too nako nga makigkita sila sa ako pero wala man sila nisipot.” (I went home to Davao thinking that (Baranabites Fathers) would meet me but they didn’t show up.)

Disappointments to Opportunities

Later on, Richel met a relative who worked at the University of Mindanao (UM)- Campus Ministry. He encouraged him to enroll for a Diploma in Agricultural Technology at Mt. Apo Science Foundation College. To his delight, Richel went back to Bohol to withdraw all his savings for his study.

Albeit his withdrawn savings, he was still in need of a sponsor. He expressed, “Naay ni suporta sa ako pero kadali lang man to.” (Someone sponsored my fees but it didn't last long.) The head of the foundation promised to look for someone to support his studies. One day, somebody by the name of Saturnino Petalcorin pledged to sponsor him until his graduation. Petalcorin was the Executive Vice President of the University that time.

Two years later, Richel received his Diploma for Agricultural Technology. Aside from that, he received a Loyalty Award and Most Outstanding Project Manager in the Piggery Department. Petalcorin was so proud of his achievements that he offered Richel two options—a job opportunity or a chance to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Technology at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP). Consequently, Richel chose the latter. And in return, he offered his services as Petalcorin's mango farm consultant at Tres de Mayo, Sto. Rosario, Davao City.

Richel was very keen on finishing his bachelor's degree while working at his sponsor's farm. In March 2000, he graduated as cum laude from the University.

A Step to Government Service

Like any other fresh graduate, Richel was jobsearching. Then, he met a friendly couple in his cousin's funeral. He learned that the couple were both government employees. When they realized Richel was looking for a job, they recommended him to apply at the local government unit of Davao. In less than a month, he complied all the requirements and was scheduled for an interview.

In December 2000, Richel was appointed as an Agricultural Technologist in the Local Government of Davao City. He was assigned at the outskirts of Paquibato District. There, he strived to improve the commodities in Paquibato District. One of his notable accomplishments was when he facilitated the 1st Corn Harvest Festival, in partnership with several private companies, in 2003. On the other hand, he helped hybridize a 100-hectare corn field at Barangay Sumimao, Paquibato District, under the Quedancor Credit Institution.

Despite his professional career in the government, he has never forgotten the foundation that molded him. Richel returned to Mt. Apo Science Foundation College tosponsor students who cannot afford their fees. Later on, he helped three scholars finish studies. Also, Richel and his wife traditionally purchase school supplies every December for selected day care students in Paquibato District.

Due to his dedication towards agricultural extension, Richel was accepted as an Expanded Human Resource Development Program Scholar of the ATI in 2010. With this, he took a Masters Degree on Extension Education at USEP, Tagum City, Davao del Norte and graduated on time. In 2014, Richel became a recipient of the 2nd Quality Corn Achievers Awards as an Outstanding Agricultural Extension Worker under the Corn Program during the 10th Philippine Corn Congress in Cagayan de Oro.

In January 2016, Richel was accepted at the ATI Region XI as a Training Specialist and, at the same time, a focal person on Agriculture and Fishery Mechanization and an alternate focal person for Corn.

“Dili basta-basta akong gi agi-an. Maong akong tema sa kinabuhi kay, ‘Poverty is not a hindrance to success.’ It never stopped me.’” (I have been through an uneasy life. That’s what my life’s theme is, ‘Poverty is not a hindrance to success.’)

Story by: Michael Angelo A. Resueño

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Extension services continue to evolve. With the challenges that extension workers and farmers face, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) continues to explore various strategies to improve its efforts as the extension and training arm of the Department of Agriculture. In over 30 years, the ATI has celebrated various successes and learned from the lessons during hard times. Nonetheless, we are proud to be standing the test of time through the support of our partners and the clientele themselves. This is the ATI Today, more committed to bring you extension services beyond boundaries.