THE carabao, still seen today–by not a few farming people–as their chief beast of burden, has carried the weight off the shoulders of a former drug dependent and given a lovelorn woman in Nueva Ecija a way to momentarily forget her pain. Today, they talk about that 360-degree turn that changed their lives.
Aside from the Visayas and Mindanao, farmers in Luzon share their own great success tale that served as sidebar to the National Carabao Conference held here recently with the theme, “Nagsipag, Nagnegosyo, Nagtagumpay!”
Arnel del Bario, chief of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) based in the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija led the event for farmers engaged in the dairy industry, one of them using the corn silage technology.
Corn silage is the PCC’s latest initiative in animal production and related income-generating technology that played a vital role in helping people mend their broken lives.
PCC information officer Rowena Bumanlag told The Manila Times that through the social program of the Carabao-Based Enterprise Development (CBED), the agency’s 8,000 dairy cooperatives nationwide initiated to help drug surrenderers by way of giving them livelihood opportunities in the carabao business.
The Manila Times is sharing inspiring tales told at the conference.
Romeo Domingo, 55, dropped out of his agriculture college course at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Muñoz Science City in the mid-1980s and got hooked on marijuana for some time. Then he added methampethamine hydrochloride (shabu) to the mix. This cocktail nearly wasted him as he was still on it even after he got married and had children. He has been lucky enough that he never got involved in trouble in his village in Lupao, Nueva Ecija. His family was also going nowhere, literally, as he would sometimes note in those moments when he could still see reason.
He was heading nowhere himself until he mended his ways just in time before getting busted and jailed.
Last year, he met Isagani Cajucom, a former corporate chemist who is now successfully engaged in corn silage production, a joint effort of the PCC and the Philippine Center for Agriculture Research and Development (PCARD).
Out of curiosity, Domingo attended the carabao conference. He heard Cajucom’s testimony. From that moment on, he was hooked.
After listening to Cajucom and being inspired by the latter’s own success story, Domingo decided he wanted to learn the technology behind corn silage and maybe pursue it as a business.
Corn silage involves the processing of corn that is about to be thrown as agricultural waste and used for animal feed. With this new technology, the corn feed is placed in the silo and later on processed. Cajucom has 14 hectares of land devoted to corn silage. After four years of hard work on the land, he earned P220,000 within three months.
Domingo learned the mechanics of the trade and had aimed at building his own silage processing house in his barangay (village). The nightmares from his drug use were also gradually coming few and far between.
Today, Domingo never tires of telling his story to anyone who cares to listen, especially those who like him once kept “company” with drugs or those who have not kicked the habit. Most of all, he said, he was able to regain the family life he thought he had lost. There is joy and much laughter at home now, all hands are on deck at the modest silage manufacturing endeavor he started.
Domingo’s journey and his testimony has also led to the discovery of lives parallel to his.
Another story about a daughter of Catalina Vizda of Santo Domingo, Nueva Ecija, a member of the Pulong-buli Multipurpose Cooperative that tends 14 buffalo heads that the Carabao Center leased to them in 1998.
With this start-up, Vizda became the leading carabao milk producer in the area and found the seed from which she grew the family fortune. In the early days, everyone in her family rose at dawn everyday. At 4 a.m. they lined up to milk the carabaos. The milk is then sold at P42 a liter to the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperative. The family was able to send the four children to college from the proceeds of this venture.
A similar story of couple Anacleto and Dionisia Cabie of San Jose City tells about their daughter, Jobelle, a 3rd year Veterinary Science and Medicine student at the CLSU. She, however, was nursing a broken heart.
As everybody in the family had to wake up at 4 a.m. every day to milk their 10 carabaos, Jobelle was lazy to rise because of a breakup with her boyfriend. She was downtrodden. Noticing this, her mother encouraged her to make herself busy instead. Little by little, she was motivated to join the ritual of waking up at dawn to milk the carabaos. The small industry grew bigger. The family sold the milk at P40 a liter to the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperative and the family was able to send the five children to high school and college.
Jobelle was unhappy no more. She found solace in her daily role of helping milk their carabaos. She turned to Facebook and posted: “Nagmahal, Nabigo, Nangalabaw [Fell in love, despaired, turned to raising carabaos],” which briefly told of her love tale and got over 2,000 likes mostly from the PCC, campus students, friends and classmates.
Bumanlag confirmed the heartwarming FB posts of students and employees of the CLSU. By the way, these posts have generated more than a hundred thousand likes as of this writing.
CELSO M. CAJUCOM