Aster De Alban
CARRD’s AR work in Batangas can be best summed up in Gregorio “Ka Oyong” Ellao’s journey towards land acquisition.
Ka Oyong was born on November 28, 1947 to farmer-parents in Gimalas, Balayan, Batangas. He started assisting his father in farm work at the young age of 13. In 1970, Ka Oyong met and married Tomasa Leonardo Ellao, the woman who would be his partner for life and the mother to his five children – Froilan, Leoncio, Margarita, Ramona and Marivic.
Despite the rigors of farm life and his growing brood, Ka Oyong would find time to participate and assist AR advocates and fellow farmers in pushing for the passage of R.A. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). Like the thousands of farmers in the country, his hopes of a just and better future were bolstered through the enactment of the said law in June 1988. This was also the start of a beautiful relationship between Ka Oyong and CARRD.
CARRD, cognizant of Ka Oyong’s potential invited the latter to be an active participant in its various endeavors particularly in its paralegal efforts in the area. Ka Oyong became a member of the Center’s original group of paralegals trained to assist fellow farmers in the realization of their dreams to own the land they and their ascendants have been tilling for decades. Up to this day, despite having successfully acquired his own parcel of land in 1993, Ka Oyong remains to be one of CARRD’s most trusted and hardworking paralegals.
Ka Oyong likewise became a member of the NAGKASAMA MPC, one of CARRD’s partner cooperatives whose constituency is composed of farmer beneficiaries in Western Batangas. Ka Oyong’s admirable disposition, active participation and almost self-deprecating attitude earned for him the lasting respect of his co-members in the organization.
When asked of what he thinks of the existing land reform program in the country Ka Oyong said “Sa marunong sa batas ay maganda ang repormang agraryo pero sa hindi ito ay palso”, thereby reiterating his belief that every farmer must be given the benefit of fully comprehending the basics of the law and its implementing program, CARP.
Although, grateful that his dream of owning a parcel of land has been realized, Ka Oyong still considers the fact that all his five children are now professionals with Nautical Science, Computer Programming, Computer Science and Customs Administation degrees as his and his wife’s sweetest triumph.
Ka Oyong has this to say to his fellow farmers “Lakasan pa ang loob at wag padala sa panghihina para makamtan ang inaasam na lupa. Kailangan din ay pahalagahan ang lupang nakamit at mas dodoblihen ang sipag para gumanda ang ani.”