Like Batman and Robin, who are partners in fighting crimes, Tong and Sammy are dynamic duo in combatting the overwhelming struggles in their chosen way of life.

“Farming may be hard, but this is our way. Together with my son, we can improve the life we chose,” Tong Buday is hopeful as he and his son adopt new farming practices after Tong’s 20 years of farming.

For Tong, a Maguindanaon, born and raised in Kabacan, Cotabato, farming was used to be an endless, almost tiring journey of insecurities with agricultural inputs requiring capital. To survive financial limitations, Tong operated a sari-sari store and tended small herd of goats.

“I can’t give up. I strive for a better life for my family,” Tong said.

His eldest son, Sammy, has witnessed his sacrifices to provide for their daily needs and education thru farming.

“My father is my superhero who solved problems with strength and willpower. These problems had transformed him to be stronger and bolder,” Sammy, one of Tong’s seven children said.

According to Sammy, his father’s turning points included not succeeding in business ventures, prioritizing who among them would be sent to school, and allowing one of his sisters to work overseas so they can make ends meet.

“Throughout hardships, he kept the faith in farming. I was inspired,” Sammy said.

In the field, Sammy prepares food for his 47-year-old father and their favorite coffee. He helps him prepare the field for planting, establish crop, do weeding, and apply fertilizers. By being his father’s constant farm companion, he realized the importance of farming and its significance to the lives of every farmer.

He decided to return to school to take up a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture major in soil science. Sammy graduated from the University of Southern Mindanao in 2017.

Tong said, “My hardships and sacrifices paid off with Sammy’s success. I’m prouder seeing him not only enjoying and loving agriculture, but also applying the knowledge he got from the course.”

Through Sammy, their family became more interested in participating and being involved in agriculture programs. Gradually, they adopted modern technologies that helped them increase their yield and reduce production cost.

They now use a combine harvester, which lessens labor expenses from reaping, threshing, and winnowing. Also from their previous farm practices, the duo used to yield 40-50 sacks (at 50kg per sack) in their 1-ha farm. Now, they are harvesting 60-70 sacks per hectare.

With their gains from modern rice farming technology, Sammy became more interested in continuing their family’s trade.

“In farming, you learn a lot. It’s a promising profession. It teaches you to be hardworking and patient,” Sammy, who still joins his father in the farm while preparing for his board exam, said.

Unlike Batman and Robin who are caped heroes, Tong and Sammy are heroes on shirts with the power to save their family from hunger and to feed millions of Filipinos. They do not need stone, potion, and influence to acquire the power. Hardwork and patience made them the everyday hero.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute