The sun hasn’t even risen in Barangay Cagumitan, Tuao, Cagayan, but Peregrina is already up to start her day. She starts by boiling water for her youngest son’s bath; preparing breakfast and cleaning the house. After doing the household chores, she would go their two-hectare rice fields and check whether the rice crop is getting enough water.
In the past, Filipino families tend to follow a patriarchal family structure—the woman manages the household chores, while the man provides the food and other necessities. It is a reality in rural areas as customs are usually passed from generation to generation.
“I have double roles. The work of a man is my job also, but I am still able to get by,” 51-year-old Peregrina said with a hopeful smile. She is a farmer-recipient of inbred seeds under Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
As farmer’s wife, her husband first taught her how to operate the irrigation equipment. Then she began joining him in farm activities until she was well-ready to manage their farm like him. Little did she know that everything she learned will be vital for their future.
Before 2019 ended, she lost her husband to a spinal disease. Left with their three sons, Peregrina mustered a lot of strength to stand alone to support her children.
“I am a substitute [of my husband]. I am trying to balance everything now that my husband is gone,” the Ilocana farmer said.
For Peregrina, it is tough to deal with a lot of struggles when needs to be a full-time mother and a farmer at the same time. While other farmers spend a whole day in the field and go home with meals already prepared by their wives, Peregrina would still need to cook for the family.
Even if doing all the work alone can be tiring and hard, she manages to live because of her faith in God and her dreams for her family.
“I dream for my children to graduate in college. This will be my pride,” she said with a hopeful smile. When her eldest son did not only receive a degree but also passed his licensure examination for Public Accountants in the same month that his husband passed away, she was proud and happy.
“This was the blessing that came into our lives, which ultimately replaced the sorrow that we felt when my husband died,” Peregrina shared with so much pride.
While gradually recovering from her husband’s loss, she’s facing a hard blow as a farmer.
She shared that when the price of palay was at P24/kilo, they gained about P200, 000. Sadly, price went down to P12 giving them only P20,000 for two ha.
“Our farm is far from irrigation system. So we bought our own water system from farm earnings when palay price was still high,” Peregrina said.
She also experienced losses for two cropping seasons after harvesting empty grains during the milking stage because they spent most of their finances on her husband’s treatment when he was ill.
Despite challenges, Peregrina enlisted herself in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) and received two bags of NSIC Rc 222 from RCEF-Seed Program in Tuao, Cagayan.
For Peregrina who is familiar of the hardships of farmers, receiving free rice seeds lessens the burden that farmers like her carry.
“This will go a long way,” she said hoping that the high-quality inbred seeds she received from RCEF would be the start of overcoming farmers’ woes amidst more rice supply coming from the international market.