At HOPE, women empowerment is one of the key pillars that drive us to do what we do. We believe that every woman deserves the opportunity to realize her full potential. To celebrate this year’s Women’s Month, we’re highlighting remarkable women from various sectors who all use their unique strengths to enable change in their communities.
Roselyn Baylosis: The coco and choco champion
51-year-old Roselyn has long struggled to maintain her one-hectare farm in Surallah, South Cotabato. However, after gaining more knowledge and skills through HOPE’s agricultural program, Roselyn has been able to increase her yield and even ventured into organic farming! To add another feather to her cap, she also processes her cacao crops to create chocolate. This passion led her to apply for an equipment grant from the DOST to upgrade her materials and make more choco!
Juditha Crizelia Kitay: The teacher who goes the distance!
Distributing modules during the pandemic has proved to be a struggle for Juditha Crizelia Kitay or Teacher Kitay, for short. However, she believes that her strength as a woman can overcome anything in order to achieve a brighter future for her students: “Ang lakas nating mga kababaihan ay ang pagiging mapagmahal. Pagmamahal ang nagtutulak sayong paglaanan ng iilang oras na puntahan at turuan ang mga mag-aaral sa kani-kanilang lugar sa kabila ng hirap.” She once traveled a long way to the river to personally give her students modules!
Marites Enecito: Farmer by day, crop insurance advisor by night!
One of HOPE’s first demo farmers, Marites continues to increase her coconut yield while helping others protect their own. Since 2017, after learning about the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation through HOPE a seminar, she has been assisting her fellow farmers to insure their crops from potential natural calamities, plant diseases, and pest infestations. Marites has become the unofficial “insurance broker” for the whole municipality of Alabel! She has helped more than 3,000 farmers become insured. “Looking at the number of people I have helped makes it all worth it,” she says.
Eliminita Bitco: Teacher turned organic farmer!
Coming from a family of coconut farmers, Eliminita believes that farming is an integral part of society. After retiring from her career as a teacher, she found herself back to her roots as a farmer in 2006 and eventually joined HOPE’s vermiworm program in General Santos City. Since then, she has been advocating for organic farming, producing her own fertilizers, and even started supplying the program’s procurement of vermicast for other partner farmers. And she’s 79 years old!
Girlie Mae Pondias: Lagao’s daily dose of positivity
Online teaching comes with its own set of time management challenges, says, 27-year-old Girlie Mae Pondias, a teacher from Lagao Elementary School. Aside from dedicating time to her students, she also works on administrative tasks. However, she keeps her head held high and her heart full of optimism. “Kahit anong trials, kayang kaharapin. Kahit nakakapagod dahil sa call of vocation, ginagawa ang makakayanin.” Needless to say, Girlie’s work contributes to the growth of her school, which is the first agri-fishery school in the region!
Ivy Grace Labuayan: From family provider to farming expert!
Earning a steady income used to be a challenge for Sarangani-born Ivy Grace, who moved overseas at the age of 24 to help support her family. However, since becoming a HOPE demo farmer 11 years ago, Ivy has gained the necessary skills in order to convert her clan’s land into fruitful farmland. She now supports her entire family through her coconut harvest and encourages others–from relatives to her Blaan tribemates–to do the same, making her the area’s go-to farming expert!
Here’s to all the women in our lives who make a huge impact in their own little ways!