She doesn’t look like the small drop cookies founded in the 1960’s, but she has more similarities to the virtue as her name suggests in. At the age of 80, Pacencia G. Malanog is still up and about on her daily routine of farming.

Born on December 21, 1939, Nanay Pacing, as she is fondly called, has relied mainly on rubber farming to support her family.  She started rubber farming when the price per kilo was 10Php. Nanay Pacing was all smiles when she recalled those times when the price of rubber rose to above a hundred pesos per kilo in 2011.

“Daghan kaayo kong mga butang nga napalit adtong panahona. Nakapalit kog bag-ong mga gamit sa panimahay nga hangtod karon naa pa gyod.” (I had a lot of beautiful things bought during those times. I purchased new household items which I still have in my home today.)

When she lost her husband in 1988, it was her strong sense of determination, courage and faith in God that steered her to survive life’s challenges. Although one of her sons Antonio is living nearby, Nanay Pacing lives alone in her humble abode in Barangay Camul, Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte. Her other children have their own families and were living in other places.

Nanay Pacing takes pride in personally cultivating the parcel of land awarded to her through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). In fact, she continues to wake up early every other day to tap rubber trees in her one-hectare rubber farm situated two kilometers away from her house.

In the afternoon, she spends her spare time tending to her small vegetable garden in the backyard. Her church duties continued despite her age. Nanay Pacing still leads prayers and is strong enough to kneel down the entire duration of the prayer rites. Age and gender did not stop her from living a fulfilled life though she is alone. Neither did those factors define her as a person. She defies the norm.

As a member of the Camul Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CARBEMCO), Nanay Pacing considers the Project Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (Project ConVERGE) of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as heaven sent. Through this partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), support services interventions have reached even to the remotest of barangays in the Resettlement ARC Cluster. From the provision of budded rubber seedlings, farming tools and equipment, agricultural inputs and capacity development trainings.

Moreover, technical trainings were conducted for individual farmers to maximize the use and realize the expected increase in yield as a result of the fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other agricultural inputs distributed.  According to Dr. Edwin B. Templado, a local rubber expert, Nanay Pacing is undoubtedly the finest lady rubber tapper in the Municipality of Tampilisan. This statement was declared during the conduct of the Rubber – Based Integrated Farming System Training organized by the Project Management Office of Zamboanga del Norte in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte where Nanay Pacing was one of the participants.

Since the project inception, there is no doubt in the abundance of financial support, astute ideas, techniques, plans, strategies, and the like. Though these factors clearly contribute to the success of the project, triumph cannot be made possible without the multi-functioning mode of one indicator – the project implementers. In fact, it needs barrels of patience, truckloads of persistence, a thousand tons of perseverance, of sweat, of efforts, of unyielding dedication for one’s job and of enumerable amount of kindness to all the project stakeholders.

There is no easy way to success – that much is true. Apart from the most sought recognitions of accomplishments, the essence of triumph lies the fact the project has slowly achieved its goal of reducing poverty. In the Zamboanga del Norte Resettlement ARC Cluster, economic improvement is evident in the lives of many.

She gives her gratitude to Project ConVERGE for supporting their area and providing necessary equipment for rubber farming. In 2018, she was provided with rubber seedlings for new plantings in her farm area. With the seedlings provided, it could be said that she was good to go with the knowledge she had in farming, but the Project made sure that Nanay Pacing, along with the other beneficiaries, knew even better agricultural practices than they have practiced before. With various hands-on trainings conducted and tools provided for them, Nanay Pacing and the others can cultivate more from it for the next years to come.

 “Dako kaayo ko ug pasalamat nga naabot ning klaseha sa proyekto dinhi sa among lugar.” (I am very much grateful that we have this kind of project in our area).

From someone whose economic life through rubber farming has changed so much, Nanay Pacing couldn’t be happier.

As she continues to battle life’s journey, doing work people half her age would rather shun, Nanay Pacing is confident that she could indeed defy age and gender.  She is truly a league of her own.