Discrimination, in any form, exists. That is why a person with disability (PWD) like Mr. Raul Portes Banjawan of Brgy. Lipata, Allen, Northern Samar is being criticized as an individual who has a limited capacity to do anything, with not much hope to succeed in life.
At the age of 9, he accidentally fell from the carabao he was riding, which resulted in a devastating backbone deformation. People were making fun of his appearance, calling him the local hunchback. The accident deeply affected him as he prevented attending classes.
Eventually, Raul has accepted his fate and somewhat managed to live a normal life, ignoring the day–to–day criticisms he suffered from people due to his unusual look. He decided to go back to school and was able to attend college, enrolling in a Radio Operator course. However, he was not able to complete the course due to financial problems and was brought to the municipality of Palapag by his parents in 1988.
During those difficult times while he was in Palapag, Raul got interested in farming. He realized that there is a potential to earn a decent income from planting vegetables. After saving enough money, he returned to his hometown in Allen in 1989 to continue his vegetable farming and started a family of his own.
On the average, Raul earned around Php 11,000.00 to Php 13,000.00 every month from his vegetable farming, cultivating pole sitao, pechay, ampalaya, eggplant, and okra as his bestsellers. During harvest, he just calls or texts his regular buyer, a middleman, to come to his residence in Brgy. Lipata to pick up the vegetables.
On February 6, 2019, Raul and 70 other farmer-beneficiaries of Allen received interventions under the Enhanced Poultry Production Project of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA). The purpose of the project is to complement the existing livelihood of farmers by providing extra source of income, thereby providing food security for the households.
The 2017 project in the barangays of Lipata and Guin–arawayan in Allen has a total cost of Php 921,360.00. This translates to about Php 12,976.90 worth of inputs provided to each of the 71 identified beneficiaries.
Each beneficiary received 6 ready–to–lay chickens, 1.2 bags layer mash, and ½ roll polynet green. They were also provided with the necessary technical training conducted by the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP).
Raul is very happy that aside from cultivating vegetable, he also earns from his layer chicken. He presently earns an additional Php 530.00 a month from the 160 to 175 eggs he sells at Php 6.00 per piece.
He is also saving money to buy additional chickens to add up to his current inventory. He also debunked claims of other project beneficiaries that there are no gains from the project. For him, it’s just a matter of applying what has been taught to them during training, especially on feeding ration to gain profit.
During the last monitoring visit after the lifting of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) due to the CoViD-19 pandemic in Northern Samar, Raul was pleased to share that his livelihoods were not heavily affected by the restrictions imposed and his farming activities were still allowed during the lockdown.
With the easing of the GCQ protocols and transitioning to the new normal, Raul is poised to further his existing farming ventures. Now at age 61, his newfound interest in raising layer chicken makes him very optimistic about the future, thanks to the experience and training provided by SAAD Program.
At the end of the interview, Raul was asked how he managed to weather the challenges of life despite his not–so–good experiences in the past. According to him, being a PWD is not an excuse to stop dreaming for a better life. It’s a matter of putting one’s perspective in the right place. For, if one can’t help himself, who else will? ###
Writer: Peter Paul E. Floralde, Area Coordinator II, PPMSO–Northern Samar
Copy editor: Natalianne Marie O. Delos Reyes, PR & Comms Officer- SAAD NPMO