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PIA Press Release

Aklanon is 2006 top national outstanding GAD Rural Woman achiever

by VG Villanueva

Kalibo, Aklan (5 October) -- The country’s top winner in the DA-GAD Search for Outstanding Rural Women 2006 is an Aklanon.

To receive this plum award on October 10 at the Sarabia Manor Hotel in Iloilo City during the National Rural Women Congress is Hon. Medialin P. Barcelona, Altavas, Aklan Sangguniang Bayan member, Chair on Women and Family Affairs, an entrepreneur and rural farmer.

Department of Agriculture OIC Regional Executive Director Jindra Linda I. Demeterio, in her letter to Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez said the conduct of the National Rural Women Congress aims to acknowledge the contribution of rural women to the development of the agri-fishery sector which is reflected in this year’s theme “Rural Women: The Key to Food Security and Poverty Alleviation in the Countryside.”

“Expected to the Congress are about 200 Rural Women Leaders across the country together with the Department of Agriculture national and regional Gender and Development Coordinators,” Demeterio said in her letter to Gov. Marquez.

Highlights of the Congress are the Awarding Ceremonies for Outstanding Rural Women Achievers, exhibits of products of the region, technology demonstration and paper presentation. Other outstanding women achievers to be honored in the Congress are Ms. Justina Buenviaje-Yu of Region XI, Ms. Corazon Tangalin of Region IX and Ms. Nelia Villasana of Region II, who will all received Special Citations.

The winner and the three with special citations will be awarded with plaques and cash prizes, according to Catherine Mae G. Santos, Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary, who emphasized in her communication to various DA regions with winners “that all of the nominees this year are winners in their own right considering their significant contributions for the development of rural women”.

Barcelona represented Region 6 in the search.

At the Women Congress in Iloilo City, the famous piña cloth of Aklan will also be showcased, including the various procedures from fiber extraction to actual weaving of the cloth.

To make this possible, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist here, headed by Delano T. Tefora will be bringing on October 10 to the Congress several of Aklan’s piña weavers to demonstrate the piña technology and some rural women entrepreneurs to exhibit piña products.

“This will be a great opportunity to showcase the pride of Aklan to rural women from all over the country,” Demeterio stressed.

OPA-Aklan sources said top awardee Barcelona’s edge over the three other national contenders is the big impact of her livelihood projects to her community and the change in the quality of life of the rural people especially women.

Besides being a local legislator with focus on women and family, Barcelona tends an organic vegetable garden, a piggery, an inland fishpond, practices the Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) and planted this with high-value crops, and operates a roadside restaurant that help much in Aklan’s tourism industry, being made as a stop-over eating and resting area of passengers of buses plying the Strong Republic Nautical Highway route from Caticlan to Iloilo and vice versa.

Barcelona said her restaurant is a big help to Altavas rural women as it serves as a “bagsakan” and display center of their produce like fresh vegetables, fruits, food products and native handicrafts. Hotel and Restaurant Technology students from nearby Altavas College are also accommodated in the restaurant as job trainees.

Her organic vegetable garden planted with pechay, eggplant, ampalaya and pipino interspersed with bananas and pineapple plants earns P3,000 a day, with the produce bought wholesale by traders from as far as Caticlan, Malay to be sold in Boracay island, and local public markets in mainland Aklan.

Earning enough for working in her vegetable plantation, the son of the caretaker/helper-family has finished college already while the others are still studying. The quality of life of the family has also improved much.

Operating her inland fishpond also provided livelihood opportunities to the people in the area. Caretakers have their own houses in the area. Workers are employed to feed the bangus, crabs and prawns in the fishpond. All vacant spaces in the fishpond area are planted with bananas, cassava, pineapple and vegetables too ensuring food sufficiency for the caretakers.

Prior to being adjudged as the best among the country’s rural women achievers, Barcelona also received a Recognition Award recently from DA-ATI in Bacolod City as the Most Promising Entrepreneur “for engaging in diversified farming enterprises that resulted to more economic activities, higher income and improved living condition.” (PIA) [top]

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