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DA celebrates women empowerment in 2021 Search for Outstanding Rural Women

Author: DA Communications Group | 3 December 2021

The Department of Agriculture (DA) recognized women agripreneurs from regions all over the Philippines during the 2021 DA Search for Outstanding Rural Women (SORW), held at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Convention Hall on December 2, 2021.

In his keynote speech, Agriculture Secretary William Dar shared his vision for gender-equal agriculture. “Today, we have all made this vision a reality as you create a mark in the sector where it used to be dominated and driven by men,” he said.

He commended all the women farmers and fisherfolk in the country. “Your role and contribution to the agriculture sector are vital and empowering as you position yourselves at the forefront towards thriving, sustainable agriculture. We at the Department recognize such influence you have. That’s why in 2003, we launched the DA Search for Outstanding Rural Women,” he added

Undersecretary of High-Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn Laviña, who is also the chair of both the DA Gender and Development Focal Point System and the awards’ Board of Judges, shared how difficult it was to choose just one winner.

“Each individual woman has her own strength. And each woman has her own way of something that’s originally innate in her. And there are also different kinds of experiences in which they adapt and adjust, depending on the situation,” Laviña said.

She further explained that the award is proof of the DA’s commitment to achieve gender equality in agriculture. “The Gawad Parangal sa Katangi-tanging Kababaihan sa Pagsasaka at Pangingisda sa Kanayunan is a fitting and necessary program to remind our womenfolk agriculture and fishery and everyone else how valuable and precious they are not only to the Department of Agriculture but to the entire country,” she said.

Region V nominee Cristina Torreda, owner of Cristina’s Strawberry Farm in Catanduanes, was hailed as this year’s national winner. At the age of 28, Torreda is the youngest nominee in this year’s SORW.

During her acceptance speech, Torreda reminisced the hardships that she experienced and overcame, particularly how Super Typhoon Rolly ravaged Cristina’s Strawberry Farm in 2015. “Kung sa farming ka nadapa, sa farming ka rin babangon. No one is going to win the battles for you except you. Walang ibang magtutupad ng mga pangarap natin kundi tayo lang din, ‘di ba?”

Torreda hopes to inspire more people, especially the youth, to partake in agriculture through her influence as this year’s National Winner. “This award is not just about the prize. It’s not just about the title. It’s really about the hearts and interest of the youth na mag-venture sa farming.”

This year’s SORW awardees also include:

  • First Runner-up: Annette Patdu, Region III
  • Second Runner-up: Mercedita Cubar, Region VI
  • Third Runner-up: Gerlie Vedra, Region X
  • Fourth Runner-up: Lilibeth Arce, Region XIII
  • Lea Astrude Santiago, Region I
  • Evelyn Duldulao, CAR
  • Vilma Ynot, Region VII
  • Florencia Galinato, Region XII
  • Edelyn Suarez, Region IX
  • Arlene Lopez, Region II
  • Rebecca Crisostomo, Region VIII

The DA Search for the Outstanding Rural Women is an annual undertaking of the DA that gives due recognition to rural women who showed excellence in their field endeavors and have made both outstanding achievements in agri-fishery development and significant impacts in the lives of their fellow rural people. It also documents the success stories of Filipina farmers and fishers to focus public attention on them as role models for women empowerment. ### (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)

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