Issue of October 1, 2017
Mt. Province

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Farmers unite

It is not easy to be a farmer. One makes sacrifices which often involves ones’ health, just to ensure that the quality of agricultural goods is excellent for the contentment of consumers. Almost every couple of months, prices of fertilizers and sprayers get higher; fuel and maintenance cost of transportation increase followed by other basic commodities while prices of perishable goods remain on the base pay. If ever there is an increase, it can be described as “snail paced.”

In the market, we do not dictate the price of our produce. Prices are usually dictated by the middlemen. They directly buy the goods from the farmers and then sell it to the customers. Often, the price double or triple but farmers take the least remuneration. The goods are often treated as surplus while the middlemen can gain much by re-selling the produce at a higher rate, much more than what the farmer was paid.

Whenever we go to the market to sell the fresh produce and demand is high, the middlemen meet us cordially on the street pleading to buy them. When the demand is low and the supply is high, they love to bargain while other traders are aloof, as if they did not see you at all.

At present, the middlemen set the prices of agricultural products while we the farmers who work every day, rain or shine in the fields, are silent and follow this process. A lot of middlemen can afford to build expensive homes.

I have met fellow farmers who got sick, or worse, died because of hard labor – the effect of spraying pesticides, or working inside the greenhouse during the day, working late, and having to wake up early just to care for the produce. These are just among the common challenges faced by a farmer, and there is no insurance one can receive from the government or even from the middlemen for all the effort. A lot of the traders belittle you while they demand much for the sake of fulfilling their selfish interests.

When would be the day that farmers unite and be the ones to the price of our goods in the market? This remains a social dilemma. How can farmers sustain and improve farming as a livelihood in this country if we do not recognize them to function as leaders of their own trade? When can the Philippines enact a law recognizing farmers’ rights to command the price?

Now should be the time to rise. If the major oil companies can command the price of their products, we farmers must be able to do the same. How can we encourage the younger generation to continue this noble profession if this livelihood is not financially attractive?

We, the next generation of farmers, must see this issue clearly and unite to survive. We should be the one dictating the price of our goods in the market. we should also have the freedom to sell directly to the consumers.


The making of a coach

There is a joke among teachers preparing students for competitions: That it is not the coach who made the student; instead it is the student who made the coach.

If we look back on the years of coaching and mentoring our students in different events, we have, one way or another, learned something from them. We coached these students, we mentored and guided them through the theories and technicalities of different topics, lessons, or activities they encountered. We saw their potentials that led us to enhance their skills and talents.But we have to admit that many students we handled are inherently bright and intelligent. Our 21st century learners are smarter than we have expected. Many times, they can debate with us or they can give innocent but witty answers.

It is truly amazing to be with these millennials. Many times, in or out of the classroom, we are puzzled with their mood swings. We become impatient with their stubbornness and most of the time we are completely challenged with their character. More significantly so, being with these children make us feel younger, their energy makes us excited and eager to teach them more. Their positivity is an encouragement to a teacher’s weary soul.

With all these, let us thank our students for the exchange of learning simple or complex lessons. Let us acknowledge that because of our students, we are able to go places during competitions. Whether we accept it or not, these kids made an impact in our lives – as teachers and as a person. They are one of the reasons why once in our career we received a commendation or promotion.

We celebrate Teacher’s Month not just because of our contribution to society. We rejoice not only because of our collective efforts in making a difference in the lives of our students but also, we delight in the truth that we have become effective and efficient teachers because of our students. When we are caught amidst the pressure of work and life, our students become our anchor and they have taught us again about patience, kindness, and the value of little things; at times when we want to resign they remind us of our passion – to serve others.

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