Rhemilyn Z. Relado, a woman of strength and conviction, takes her new post as the new PhilRice branch director in Los Baños and accepts the challenge to create a positive impact on the station and across Regions IV-A and IV-B.
Rhem, who started her career at PhilRice in 2003, is the youngest PhilRice director to be appointed at 36. Currently, she is working on strengthening and enhancing partnerships with Los Baños-based international, national, and local agencies.
Making of a leader
After completing her masters’ degree from a university in the United States, Rhem was appointed as the head of the Institute’s Socioeconomics Division (SED) – a position she held for 8 years before becoming the acting branch director of PhilRice LB. At SED, aside from her management tasks, she researched on the technological and socioeconomic status of rice-based farm households in the 42 major rice-producing provinces across the country. She also led the “Statistical Series on the Rice Economy” project, which gathers, processes, and updates rice statistics and makes the information available to rice stakeholders. She is also one of the authors of the book, “Competitiveness of Philippine Rice in Asia”; profiling the Asian rice farmer and comparing productivity and management practices in pesticide applications.
As a passionate researcher and development worker, she is leading the project Lakbay Binhi, a mobile seed center that “responds to the challenge of having the right amount of high-quality seeds delivered to farmers” in the most remote areas. The project was awarded as the Most Relevant Re-entry project by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in 2016.
The project was cited for “promoting the institutionalization of an internal [PhilRice] system to increase availability and accessibility to high-quality rice seeds by improving the complementary processes of rice breeding, seed production, promotion and commercialization, and evaluation. Her re-entry project is a significant move towards achievement of the PhilRice’s mission to help increase productivity, profitability, and thereby attain rice sufficiency in the country.”
Preparing a leader
Rhem, who hailed from Misamis Oriental, finished AB Sociology, cum laude, at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She intended to take up law after graduation but the opportunity to work at PhilRice has gradually changed her views in agriculture and development.
“The interdisciplinary encounters manifested in agriculture make its work very broad,” she shared. The processes involve “from seed to seed” and marketing largely cover social and economic aspects that can help deepen the understanding of the rice industry.
Rhem continued her studies with MS in Agricultural and Extension Education at the Pennsylvania State University. Her stay at the top research university widened her perspectives on the importance of strong extension work. It has a holistic approach at extension education that tackles cooperative extension with a specific program for youth and families.
“It made me realize that a holistic view on extension and advancement in rice science and technology can lead to the significant progress in farm households,” she said.
Rhem also finished her Master in Development Management at DAP and was awarded with Highest Honors in 2016. She is a member of the UPLB Sociology Society, UPLB Mindanawans, AMiCUS – UPLB Chapter, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi (UP Chapter), and Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Pennsylvania State College of Agricultural Sciences.
Getting to know the leader
To her friends and colleagues, Rhem is known as someone who loves to share hearty laughs and witty banters. Amidst this amiable personality is the ability to command authority with her eloquence and strong personality. She spends her vacant time playing Plants vs. Zombies and word games. She also devotes most of her Sunday afternoons going to malls, even jokingly shares that she could stay in a mall until its closing time.
Rhem is also regarded as a considerate, compassionate, and rational leader who is thoughtful of her staff’s welfare. She does not rest on her commendable achievements but remains focused and committed to the work at hand.
Taking the lead
During the turnover ceremony last January 5, 2018 at the Field Service Building of the station, Rhem expressed her gratitude as she takes responsibility of being in the forefront in steering PhilRice LB.
“Magtulungan tayo,” she said; emphasizing the importance of working together in attaining the station’s plans and goals.
Rhem’s topmost priority for the station is on strengthening and enhancing partnerships with international, national, and local agencies that are housed in Los Baños.
“We need to capitalize on partnerships to deliver a better impact among regions IV-A and IV-B,” she said. The established partnerships and the upcoming partner-organizations can consolidate the resources that the farmers need to increase their harvest and income and make them competitive.
On her list also includes enhancing the station’s internal capabilities and capacities. She will also look into the station’s thrust to address the future needs of R & D and intends to expand on the work of past leaderships through innovations.
With her management skills and achievements, Dr. Rex L. Navarro, member of the External Program and Management Review committee, said that Rhem is the kind of leader needed at PhilRice LB matches.
“She was honed and prepared to be at where she is serving right now. PhilRice Los Baños is in good hands,” he said.