Essay

Our Tatay, a farmer

My father used to tell us their five children to make sure we finish a college education, because farming will not be an option for us once we raise our own families.

We took his admonitions to heart. Our eldest sister is a doctor of education, currently a school head; the second is a public school teacher; I am a lawyer; my younger brother is an engineer working in a private firm; and our youngest sister is a nurse in Germany.

Now, our father is old, and although I am starting to grow my income from pig raising, probably no one among his children will focus on farming as our primary source of income.

Last year, Cebu Daily News featured my father in the context of our declining farmer population.

We will forever be thankful to our Tatay Vicente “Inting” Isles for giving us a fighting chance in life, and for his foresight in realizing that we each have to have a college education, otherwise we will be following his farming life, a life he had foreseen will be difficult.

This was even before the government passed the Rice Tarrification Law which allowed cheap rice to come into our country, with expected further reduction income of our rice and substitute crops (such as corn) farmers.

Our respective fathers each had their own struggles; we could say proudly that our own made the best guidance for us under the circumstances. It is just unfortunate that in our case, it meant leaving the life of farming – our parents’, grandparents’, great-grandparents’, ancestors’ lives – and further putting a strain on our nation’s food self-sufficiency: but our father had to decide the best for us under the circumstances, and I truly understood why he tried and succeeded in pushing us away from a life of farming.

No one among your children will probably be a farmer like you, Tay, but what I could do is to push for government policies to protect better our Filipino farmers, so that one day, maybe not in our generation or our children’s generation, no farmer father will be forced to turn away his children from a life of farming because it is not a viable economic option for them. Happy Father’s Day!

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