BY Ma. Christian A. Ramos, PGIN-CMO
“There were times I felt like giving up, pero dahil may pangarap ako sa buhay — yung gusto kong umangat mula sa kahirapan, yung kagustuhan kong tumulong sa pamilya ko at lalo na sa aking sarili — nagpursigi ako.”
Hazel H. Achuela uttered the remarks after she landed Top 9 in the recent licensure board examination for agriculturists.
Her mantra is to never give up until the family is lifted from poverty. She belongs to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary.
She is the eldest among four siblings in a family of farmers from Paoay, Ilocos Norte. At seven years old (after her mother passed away), she would sometime spend early mornings selling vegetables in the public market before heading to school.
With these challenges, Achuela considered that chances for her to pursue for higher education were slim. However, encouragement coming from her mentors drove her to enroll at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) Laboratory High School – Science Curriculum in Batac City. She then went on to study college at the same university and earned a degree in Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (major in Animal Science), graduating as magna cum laude.
She studied under the MMSU – College of Agriculture, Food, and Sustainable Development (CAFSD) thru the Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation.
Achuela represented MMSU as a delegate at the Asian Association of Agricultural Colleges and Universities (AAACU) Study Tour held in Tokyo, Japan. AAACU aims to improve human welfare through the fields of agriculture, education, research, and extension. The tour was hosted by the Tokyo University of Agriculture.
“This [success] is also for them — for my mentors. They were always there to help me and were diligent and caring, kanayundak a panpanunuten. Idiay ko met a na-realize a nakaananusda kanyak. Isuda amin iti nang-mot-motivate kanyak,” shared Achuela.
(This [success] is also for them — for my mentors. They were always there to help and were diligent and caring, lagi nila akong iniisip. Doon ko napagtanto na napakamaalalahanin sa akin. Sila ang nag-motivate sa akin.)
Achuela is certain that the sacrifices of the people who helped her are now paying off. After taking the Agriculture Licensure Examination last November, she ranked ninth among thousands of examinees nationwide.
“Life itself is a challenge — we may lose some; we may win some. If you never give up, our sacrifices have its rewards.”
Even before the board exam, MMSU – CAFSD hired her as an instructor. Equipped with her passion for farming, she continues to inspire young people to be involved in and explore agriculture; as it is one of the prime livelihoods of the province.
“Farming is our way of life. Kahit na ang pangarap ko ay maging guro, gusto ko na ang ituro ko ay agriculture. Nowadays, population not only here in the Philippines but also worlwide is geometrically increasing, yet food production is decreasing.
“Food production is function of agriculture, so why not teach them how to produce food, not only by cultivating crops, but also by raising farm animals?” she said.
The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) thru the Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office’s (INYDO) annual Sirib Awards is set to name Achuela as one of its awardees. The awards program is dedicated to recognize young Ilocanos who brought prestige and honor to the province. Some awardees include national and international competitions, as well as exemplar academic achievers.
Governor Imee R. Marcos lauded Achuela’s achievements and expressed pride in the young Ilocana.
“Talaga namang kitang-kita ang kinasirib (katalinuhan) at kinatan-ok (greatness) ng mga Ilocano na muling pinatunayan ni Hazel Achuela ng Mariano Marcos State University.
“Indeed, high-quality education is offered at the premier state university dito sa Ilocos Norte, ang MMSU. Lahat ay pwedeng mag-aral. Lahat, pwedeng mangarap. And now that we have free education, free tuition fees, nothing is impossible for poor yet deserving students,” says Governor Marcos.
Promoting world-class quality education, MMSU was recently listed by Local Pulse, a news website, as one of the best universities in the whole country. It also ranked fourth among top-performing nursing schools in the Philippines with four topnotchers in the recent Nursing Licensure Examination. — (Ma. Christian A. Ramos, PGIN-CMO)