By: Noemi Beth G. Macario

Taken from BAHANDI, A collection of inspiring stories in Farming.

He is a known warrior – looked up with either reverence or fear, whichever part of the spectrum one belongs. But to those who knew him, it takes very little to make Malic teary-eyed.

I first met Malic Macabato during the inauguration of the barangay health center donated by the Asisi Foundation to his Barangay where he sits as the Barangay Captain. There I saw the tough looking Malic giving a speech and holding his tears in bay. He later explained that for the longest time, they haven’t felt that they have somebody on their corner. They never even felt the presence of government agencies in their quest for survival. That is why any small help you extend is met with gratitude and tears. With partnerships established with Asisi Foundation, the Department of Agriculture, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and the full support of the Local Government of Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte, Malic is very optimistic about the future.

Aside from the development in his Barangay, Malic’s farm is a testimony of how far he has gone. From an unproductive farm, his 1.7 hectare farm is now a hive of various farm activities. The P 300,000 assistance given by ATI were used to plant more crops, make fishpond and construct a one-bedroom cottage and one training hall. Under the coconut trees in the farm are crops such as upland rice, various vegetables such as lettuce, cauliflower, bell pepper, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, tomato and many others. He also planted fruit trees like durian, mangosteen, lanzones, pomelo, kalamansi, dragon fruit and marang. He has also free-ranged chickens, goats, carabao, cow and even guinea fowl in his farm.

Reaping the Harvest

His 70 sq.m fishpond is filled with carp and tilapia. He has started giving fingerlings to another Barangay Official who went to visit his farm. He has even sold his fish catch at the Lanao del NorteAgri Fair, a yearly activity of the province. Malic together with his wife Tata is also regarded as one of the biggest single producer of organically grown upland rice. His rice produce sold like hotcakes when he displayed his produce at the National Organic Congress at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila. He is also earning from the fruit trees, coconut juice and various poultry and livestock. Harvest from his vermibeds were used as fertilizer in his vegetables.

Developments and Partnerships

His farm is also being developed by the ATI and the Municipal Agriculture Office as a Learning Site. Students of the Ladderized course conducted by the DLSPA (a School teaching Practical Agriculture), the People’s Development Foundation and ATI spent 15 days in his farm for practicum. There Malic and Tata taught the students on how to plant various crops, how to feed poultry, livestock and fish. His farm also became the Farmer Field School site showing the Palayamanan concept. Palayamanan is an integrated farming concept, the improved version of the “Bahay Kubo” as it incorporates livestock, fishery and other components in the farm. Malic is also proud to say that almost everyday, visitors come to his farm- farmers, local officials and government officials.

Malic also attended a lot of trainings and exposure trips conducted by ATI and with full support of the Local Government Unit. These trainings and exposure trips has opened his eyes to development opportunities. The learnings that he gained were applied in the development of his Barangay and his farm. Unlike before where he never viewed farming as a good income earner, now he regard farming as his ticket to good fortune for himself and his family.

For all his successes, Malic attributes to ATI, Asisi Foundation and the LGU to have played a significant part. He is keeping his fingers crossed that his good fortune will continue in the years to come. Who would have thought that a mere Grade 2 drop-out would have come this far?