Tilling the soil with just one hand

A FARMER in a village in Palawan works just with his left hand, while his right hand is conspicuously hidden in one of his pockets.

His way of farming is not an exhibition of sort, but the only way which can allow him to continue working to support his family.

Why? Because several years back, he and a companion figured in a freak accident along the highway after the motorcycle they were riding crashed which permanently incapacitated his right hand due to serious injuries.

Despite his disability that caused pain and misery, Sonny Tesado has to continue with his slash-and-burn (kaingin) exploits in the mountainous areas of Palawan, a process which is done by illegally cutting down and burning trees in order to commercially produce charcoal.

While he managed to elude arrest during that time, Tesado said several of his friends were already caught and some of them are still languishing in jail.

But in the brink of being demoralized due to his situation, word spread around the community that a farm is being developed in Barangay Bacungan sometime in 2017.

However, Tesado was so hopeless to be hired as a farmer or even as a helper due to his disability.

Little did he know that luck is coming his way when the farm’s manager, Barangay Kagawad (village councillor) Daniel Anjan, approached Tesado and offered him a job.

At that time, luck was really on his side because his wife Retchel likewise got a job as a helper at the farm’s kitchen and mess hall.

Now, the 38-year-old Tesado can be seen taking care of the thousands of sunflower plants at the Yamang Bukid Farm in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

Together with the other farmers now employed at the farm, Tesado usually reinforces the sunflower plants with thin bamboo slats with just one hand to protect the sunflowers from being bent by winds or by torrential rains.

While the sunflowers are in full bloom, Tesado and several other farmers take turns in taking care of the flowers at the hilly portion of Yamang Bukid Farm.

Even during the night, several farmers were placed on duty to water and take good care of the sunflowers against the rising temperatures of the recent summer months, which became worse due to the recent El Niño phenomenon.

Because of his diligence in taking care of the sunflowers, Tesado can now be regularly seen doing his rounds at the Sunflower Garden of Yamang Bukid, which has gained the reputation as an emerging agri-tourism destination in Puerto Princesa City.

In some instances, Tesado also extends his “helping hand” to his fellow farmers to take care of the other plants and vegetables being cultivated at the Yamang Bukid.

Despite being physically challenged, Tesado has been observed to be a reliable and a hardworking farmer.

In fact, Tesado was among those who unselfishly extended his services to take care and water the wilting plants at night during the onslaught of the recent El Niño months. ([email protected]/PN)

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