Boy: Taga-Dev ka ba? (Are you from the development sector?)
Girl: Bakit? (Why?)
Boy: Nadebelop na kasi ako sa iyo. (‘Cause I’ve fallen for you.)
Rizal G. Corales of the research sector may have this as his favorite punchline for Dr. Aurora M. Corales of the development group; but more than his humor, his loving ways contributed to their enduring story as a PhilRice couple.
The Corales couple are two of our well-known experts. Tita Au is the program leader of Rice Business Innovation Systems (RiceBIS), one of PhilRice’s development programs that aims to help rice farmers improve their income through agripreneurship (agriculture and entrepreneurship).
Sir Rizal pioneered the Palayamanan Plus (PalPlus), a rice-based farming systems model that helps farmers maximize their profits through adoption of diversification, intensification, and integration of farming activities such as crops, livestock, mushroom, and vermicomposting.
As leaders of PhilRice programs, their work as individuals and as a couple have created positive impacts in the lives of their staff and in the farmers’ lives. Both of them were hailed as Civil Service Commission Pagasa Awardees (Au in 2006 and Rizal in 2017), one of the most prestigious titles given to a government employee for outstanding contributions.
Same field, different expertise
Although the happy couple work in the same field, they both recognize that they have their own expertise and strengths. Tita Au is a graduate of BS Agricultural Engineering from the Central Luzon State University, while Sir Rizal finished his BS Agriculture degree from Mariano Marcos Memorial State University.
“Rizal and I always recognize each other’s strengths when it comes to work. He is more technically-equipped than I am because of his farming experiences. Although we sometimes view things differently, we always make sure that we respect each other’s opinions,” Tita Au said.
Tita Au also shared that Sir Rizal helps her in doing simple tasks at home such as cooking and going to the market every Sunday after mass.
“Work is part of her happiness, so I support her on that. We help each other in the household chores, and we give each other the time we need for work. I do farm activities in the morning and write papers at night. We are different; and sometimes we have conflicting ideas, but our discussions strengthen our relationship,” Sir Rizal said.
Tita Au also helps in editing Sir Rizal’s papers and preparing for his presentations. They crosscheck each other’s work and continuously exchange ideas. They also agree that listening and communication are important foundations of a heathy and satisfying marriage.
United by love and advocacy
Tita Au and Sir Rizal met in a training from their former work. They both admit it was not love at first sight. Like the many great things in their life, their love story took time. From being co-workers, they grew together to become friends, then a couple, and eventually got married in 1983.
After almost 36 years of being married, both of them agreed that the key to a happy work and married life is learning how to balance everything.
“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that it is very important to balance your time, whether you’re single or married, because we all have our families. Whether it’s with your parents, siblings, or friends, it’s essential that we spend quality time with them,” Sir Rizal said.
When it comes to work, Sir Rizal also mentioned the importance of planning and setting goals for one’s self, and allotting some time to relax to boost productivity.
For Tita Au, she centered her advice on striking a balance between her roles at work and at home. For her, the measure for having a balanced work and marriage life is knowing that they were able to raise their family well without sacrificing their performance at work. That’s how they have kept the passion alive, both in their marriage and at their offices.
“Loving is like taking care of a plant. You have to continuously water it and take care of it, so it will grow, have flowers, and eventually bear fruits. The same thing goes with marriage and work. We need to learn how to love our duties at home and at work, the way we love ourselves. Dedication, commitment, and prayer make success possible, in work, marriage, or in anything that we want to do,” Tita Au emphasized.
As Tita Au and Sir Rizal grow old together, their love and commitment for work and for each other can only become stronger, especially now that aside from being parents to three beautiful daughters, they have embarked on another journey as grandparents.