RMTU 2012: Solidifying its Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development and Climate Change Adaptation

(Speech delivered by Hon. Teofilo Q. Inocencio, DAR Regional Directorof Central Luzon during the 12th Commencement Exercises of the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University (RMTU) South Campuses)

 

Sa ating pinakamamahal na University President, Dr. Feliciano S. Rosete, Faculty at Staff ng Ramon Magsaysay Technological University, mga magulang, mga estudyante, lalo’t higit sa ating mga graduates, isang magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

Kung sa nagdaang apat na taon, naging bida ang mga guro dahil sa mahalaga nilang papel sa paghubog ng kabihasnan at kalinangan sa inyo, ngayong umagang ito hayaan ninyong bigyan natin ng pugay ang mga graduates dahil sa kanilang matagumpay na pagharap sa mga hamon ng buhay bilang mag-aaral ng Unibersidad na ito.

Exactly 39 years ago today, I also dreamed of attaining a high degree of education with a bright future always in mind. It has always been my belief, as I still hold dear now, that education is a valuable means to transform one’s ideals and dreams into a reality not only for oneself but for the country as well. And today, I must proudly say that having served the government for more than three decades, that dream has now become a reality!

Indeed, your commencement program’s theme may be lofty in its vision, its dream of sustainable development but very realistic in the truest sense. For how can we achieve real growth and progress when our mother earth, the environment, is not truly cherished. The painful lessons of the past bringing death and destruction to the human population as a consequence of human neglect visible in forest destruction and denudation, water and pollution, etc. should move our hearts and minds together to consider proactive and lasting solutions in protecting and caring for the environment.

Just recently, Pres. Noynoy Aquino signed into law the National Greening Program of the government that seeks to germinate and propagate various species of trees to the tune of 1.5 billion trees in six years time beginning 2011. This is a convergence initiative program involving the DENR, DAR and DA. The vision is to cover as much area as possible, from cliffs to the plains and the rivers or seas, where trees are not just planted and literally left on their own but are taken care of consistently and responsibly until they reach the stage of maturity capable enough to protect and save our mother earth. With this vision, hills and mountains, forests and the fields, riverbeds and shores will be at the forefront of protecting natural and human resources against calamities or nature’s harm. Under this dream, everybody – meaning all sectors of society are expected to pour in their contributions in any way possible. What is at stake after all is the Philippine population.

In the same token, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna has developed rice varieties that can withstand worst flooding that may afflict the countryside. Initial test results have shown inspiring anecdotes and in the very near future these rice varieties will be made available for every farmer living in flood-prone areas especially in Region 3.

What this indicates is the fact that with the fast changing environment brought about by climate change, the Filipino people will not stop at developing ways and means to strike a balance between changing phenomenon and human adaptation. And within this perspective, the academic community where you belong has a particular role to integrate human values in the classroom setting aimed at fortifying our resoluteness to care and protect for our dear environment.

My dear parents and graduates, this sense of purpose starts with a clear vision. Allow me then to share my personal experience.

As the regional director of DAR in Region III for the past six years, and having held various positions before, climbing one step of the ladder to the next so to speak, transforming farmers’ lives into agents of change has become more than just a passion, more than just a vision. I must say that helping farmers attain competitive edge among other sectors in our society has evolved to be my vocation, a particular commitment to serve the underprivileged, oftentimes at the expense of my own biological family. Through the years, I must admit that the family I truly cherish now in my heart includes the farmers and their own families and communities.

At this point, I must confess that attaining this dream is not a walk-in-the-park. Before joining DAR in 1990, I first worked as a senior agriculturist at the Department of Agriculture.  This is where I trace my connectivity with the farmers. And for the past six years that I’ve served as regional director for DAR in Central Luzon, the region has consistently surpassed its land acquisition and distribution or LAD targets. 2005 was the most remarkable as Region III registered a 119% accomplishment in LAD given its 5000-hectare target for that year.

As you might have known by now, Agrarian Reform in the Philippines traces its roots with the enactment of RA 3844 in 1963 by then President Diosadado Macapagal. This law sought to institute land reforms in the Philippines including the abolition of tenancy. Nine years later or in 1972, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos decreed the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of the soil through PD 27. And 16 years later or in June 15, 1988, the return of democracy in the country paved the way for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP by President Corazon Aquino through RA 6657. This law covers all agricultural lands regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced. In 1995, RA 7905 was passed strengthening the implementation of CARP. Three years later or in 1998, the lifespan of CARP was extended for another ten years through RA 8532 by Pres. Fidel Ramos. And true enough, Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo passed into law RA 9700 in 2009 giving CARP another five years for its full and final implementation until 2014.

It might interest you if I may be allowed to state for the record the state of agrarian reform in Central Luzon from its newborn stage in 1963 to its full-blown implementation in the name CARP until last year. For thus purpose, we will only dwell on the physical component of CARP, meaning, the transfer of ownership of agricultural lands in the hands of its program beneficiaries through the Certificates of Land Ownership awards or CLOAs.

Your DAR in the central plains of Luzon is mandated by the Department to distribute around 450, 904 hectares of agricultural lands to its identified program beneficiaries until the expiration of CARP in 2014. Most of these lands are located in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga which account for 73% of the 450, 904 hectares. And looking back now, I can humbly say that your DAR in Region III has effectively trimmed down the balance to just about 4% with 434, 101 hectares already distributed to the beneficiaries. The next question now is what are we supposed to do within the less than 3 years of CARP.

My dear graduates and parents, land distribution is not the only parameter where DAR’s performance is ultimately gauged. Developing the full potentials of farmers into highly productive and competitive sector is equally crucial. This is the reason why with the pioneering spirit of your humble servant, the Department crafted the Programang Unlad Nayon Lakas Ani Program or PUNLA to boost farmers’ productivity and income. As a result, the average production of 84 cavans per hectare in palay before has been significantly raised to 108 cavans. And the program’s intense use of certified seeds and organic fertilizer, among others, gradually developed into a national program of DAR.

The use of organic fertilizer alone is a clear example of caring for the environment. Hind po ba kayo nagtataka kung bakit sa mga nagdaang taon ay halos wala tayong nahuhuling palaka sa mga bukid? Dulot po yan ng sobrang paggamit ng kemikal sa ating mga palayan, pansinin ninyo ngayon, dumarami na ang mga palaka na pwedeng pakinabangan sa hapag-kainan.

On a more personal note, yours truly is a farmer by and large. Sa isang maliit na farm sa Concepcion, Tarlac kung saan ako ipinanganak at lmaki, puspusan ko pong ginamit ang teknolohiyang handog ng punla kung saan sa pagitan ng mga pananim na kalamansi ay matutunghayan ang iba’t ibang uri ng gulay para pakinabangan ng aking pamilya at kapitbahay. Hindi po madaling gawin ito lalo na sa dami ng aking trabaho at laki ng responsibilidad sa DAR at pamilya.

Maraming balakid at hadlang along the way. Minsan ay nanghihina ka rin at nawawalan ng lakas ng loob. natural lamang po yan. Sa mga pagkakataong ito, suporta ng pamilya ang nagsilbing inspirasyon para malampasan ko ang anumang unos o bagyo na dumaan sa buhay.

My dear graduates, pamilya rin ang inyong matibay na sandigan tungo sa minimithi ninyong mga pangarap sa buhay. Wika nga nila, “no mountain is too high for a brave and tested climber.” Bawat isa po sa atin ngayon ay maituturing na isang mountain climber. May mga matatayog tayong mga pangarap na nais marating at abutin. But remember, “Vision without action is merely a dream, action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Ito po ay mga kataga ng isang nagngangalang Joel Barker. At ito rin po ang mga kataga na magsisilbing gabay sa ating pag-akyat sa bundok ng mga pangarap na masasabi kong buhay na buhay sa ating mga nagsisipagtapos ngayon.

Mga minamahal na graduates – our dreams, our visions become meaningless unless and until we put the right fuel in the engine of our own lives – correct attitude, a brave heart, and a real dedication and determination to put the flame of our vision afire.

Transformation, after all, begins with our own selves. We cannot change the world unless we change the ways that do not help us realize our dreams.

I would like to share with you the thoughts of Hannah Arendt. Ang sabi niya, “what really distinguishes this generation from earlier generations is its determination to act, its joy in action, the assurance of being able to change things by one’s own efforts.”

Tila po hindi nagkulang ng paalaala sa atin si Hannah Arendt. Kung tutuusin, ang init at alab ng damdamin na nagliliyab ngayon sa bawat puso ng ating mga nagsisipagtapos para sa inaasam na pagbabago sa buhay sa pamamagitan ng pagsisikap sa pag-aaral ang siyang daan at susi para sa magandang bukas na ating sinisikap na maabot.

This whole process, though, does not happen overnight. Pagod, panahon at pera ang katumbas ng pagbabagong ito. At kadalasan, sakripisyo ng bawat miyembro ng pamilya ang katumbas ng matayog na pangarap na ito. Hindi lingid sa ating kaalaman ang pangingibang-bayan ng mga magulang at mga kapatid o kaanak para matustusan ang pag-aaral ng kanilang mga anak. Hindi rin lingid sa ating kaalaman ang tiyaga at sakripisyo ng isang magsasaka para may maihain ito sa hapag-kainan. Wika nga ng isang kanta, “bawat butil ng palay ay butil ng pawis at dugo.”

Tama po. Pawis at dugo ang siya nating puhunan para sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap tungo sa isang magandang bukas. Ito ang daan na matuwid na nagsisilbing inspirasyon sa atin ng Pangulong Noynoy ngayon. Alam ko po na hindi madali para sa lahat. Pero sa tingin ko po, ito ay hindi imposible kung gugustuhin natin. The desire to transform one’s life towards a better future, towards sustainable development and towards a better society begins with a single step. Wala pong shortcut sa daan na ito!

My dear graduates, the real battle to change or transform the world begins in here and now. Kayo ang simula at sandigan ng pagbabago ng ating bansa. And the process begins now, hindi bukas o makalawa. Ito ang mensahe na tatanggapin nating mga diploma ngayong umagang ito. The end is just about to begin!

            Marami tayong mga inspirasyon para sa laban na ito – ang laban ng pagbabago sa sarili at ng bayan. Kailangan lang nating magmasid, mag-usisa at makialam. Tinitiyak ko po sa inyo na malayo ang ating mararating kung bukas ang ating kaisipan sa tunay na pagbabago na nais marating kakambal ang isang mahinahon na pag-akyat sa ating mga pangarap.

Uulitin ko po, graduation is a meaningful step towards the realization of our dreams, towards a better future, towards a brighter tomorrow!

Once again, congratulations my dear graduates! Pasalamatan natin ang ating mga magulang, ang unibersidad na ito, ang mga guro at lalo’t higit ang Poong Maykapal kung hindi dahil sa kanila ay wala tayo ngayon sa makasaysayang araw na ito!

Sa inyo pong lahat, maraming salamat at magandang umaga!

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