I paid a courtesy visit to the Center Chief of the Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CVIARC) in Ilagan, Isabela. I handed in my introductory letter to the clerk and after few minutes, I was let in inside the Chief's Office. The Chief was reading my letter when I came in. All of the sudden, he spoke in a familiar language of Maguindanaon! Wait a minute! How did he knew this language? We are on the extreme north in the land of Ilocanos and Ybanags and perhaps only Maranaos have gone this place. I recheck his name. He name is not Maguindanaon. But I admit, he speaks Maguindanaon very well. Sensing that I don't have a clue of what he is saying, he backtracked a bit and said, "You don't know Maguindanaon?". "I am sorry sir, I don't", I said. "I am Orly Lorenzana, like you, I am an alumnus of USM. Welcome to Isabela".
Far north in Cagayan (I mean Cagayan in Luzon not Cagayan de Oro), I did my fieldwork for my thesis. I am about to interview a group of farmers. The usual pleasantries, introduction from where I come from. I mentioned I came from USM. "USM as in University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, Cotabato?" One NGO worker asked. "Yes, I am," I said trying to discern how did he know about USM. Then, he asked, "Do you know Sir Boy Cena?". Then they went on explaining that Dr. Romulo Cena and Dr. Naomi Tangonan were their consultants in their cacao production projects. As part of their agroforestry project under the Success Alliance and World Cocoa Project, that village pretty much know USM and our expertise in Cacao.
|In Brgy Cabbo, Penablanca, Cagayan|
We were dining in an eatery in a remote area in Ilagan, Isabela, when two ladies approached me and asked. "Sir, are you from USM?". They introduced themselves and said that they are alumna of BSND at USM. They are currently conducting survey of the nutrition status of kids in far-flung, "red" areas for the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in Diliman. They claimed that their "training" in USM makes working in conflict-affected areas a piece of cake. They can go to places, other nutritionist are wary of going to. Talk of how tough our graduates are!
|"with the tough nutritionists"|
In one of my sessions with Isabela farmers, someone asked what rubber looks like. The conversation went fine that some farmers suggested to go to USM! Their wish was granted when two of them visited USM last June. They were so impressed with USM's landscape. "Nalawa! Napintas!". We visited the Vermicomposting Center, PCC, USMARC, and PPSM. They were impressed with "basket of technologies" available in USM. But what impressed them most is the way scientists in USM explain their respective technologies. "Ang galing ng mga professors ninyo. Hindi namimilit sa mga technolohiya at binibigay ang advantage at disadvantage ng bawat teknolohiya. Kumbaga, kami ang bahala kung saan ang gusto naming gamitin. Sa paraang yun, mas malinaw at kumbinsido kami. Bakit kaya hindi ganyan sa amin?"
|"Sino nga yung cowgirl na professora sir?"|
|"Ito pala ang cacao!"|
|"Paano kaya naging gulong ito?"|