For Lhea Mallillin, 38, a full-time teacher and a weekend farmer, love for agriculture is something that arose from her childhood experiences. “I grew up in a barangay where the major source of living is farming rice. My siblings and I enjoyed our childhood playing in the rice field, we used to fly kites and play agawan base. That is very memorable for me,” said Mallillin.
Reminiscing about her early years, she shared that her parents would grow food in a small backyard that they didn’t own in order to survive and to have something served on their table. This experience taught them the importance of growing food. “I remember when we were relocated three times because the owner of the land we settled on had to sell it. Those financial challenges during our childhood inspired us to work hard for what we are enjoying today.”
This farmer stayed true to her roots and continued the passion that she got from her farmer parents. In 2012, Mallillin, with her sisters Mhelba and Catherine, bought their first parcel of land together.
But because her sisters had hectic work schedules outside farming, they let her manage the farm. Soon after, Mallillin ended up buying her sisters’ shares instead.
Cultivating and preparing the soil for the first time has consumed a lot of her energy and resources. Mallillin initially planted cassava and corn, but because the weather was the major threat to these crops, she ended up switching corn to pineapples on more than a hectare of her farm as it can withstand extreme conditions like storms and drought. After four years of developing the farm, she was able to improve crop production and was able to build a farmhouse, water system, and fence for farm animals.
WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE
Mallillin is a full-time teacher on weekdays and a farmer on weekends. On her days off, she often brings her paperwork with her while overseeing the things that need to be done on the farm. She has been farming since 2014, but she started growing pineapples last 2018. Her inspiration in cultivating pineapples is her aunt Nenita, who has been farming pineapples for six years. She says, “During harvest season, I saw them delivering tons of pineapples to nearby provinces, including NCR. According to her, pineapples from the town are very easy to market because of its remarkable sweetness and juiciness. She inspired me when she revealed how much I can earn from switching corn to pineapples.”
She calls her farm Sangui Gold Farm, which is yet to be registered. Sangui Gold Farm is a 4-hectare farm situated in San Guillermo, Isabela. “Sangui” is derived from her town San Guillermo, while “Gold” refers to the color of their town’s major crops: pineapple, corn, banana, and cassava. It also means that there is gold in farming these crops, particularly pineapples and corn.
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