By Apple Jean Martin-De Leon

It is a long 13-hour ride from Los Baños, Laguna to the mountainousKalinga province, with enough rugged and steep terrain to discourage most people, but the DOST- Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) team was committed to reaching Brgy. Balbalasang in Balbalan town as part of their commitment to make the Institute’s technologies accessible to far-flung communities.

The four-day training session on bamboo craft processing and basic finishing was joined by farmers, students, housewives, local government workers, and entrepreneurs. It was designed to improve the participants’ skills in making crafts from bamboo, a raw material they have yet to use.

DOST-FPRDI experts Engineer Victor G. Revilleza, Eduardo M. Atienza, and Fernando M. Pesigan explained the proper selection and preparation of raw materials and demonstrated actual production of the handicrafts. During the last day, the participants were taught how to apply colors and stains to the finished items.

“As extension workers, it is our duty to bring our technologies to their intended users no matter how remote their areas may be,” notes Julian O. Roxas of DOST-FPRDI’s Training and Manpower Development Services Section (TMDSS). Roxas has been doing field work and training coordination for 33 years now.

“Our work sometimes entails being away from our families for days or even weeks. There were times when we…get caught in the middle of a storm while [doing] training, or…hike for hours, cross rivers, or ride a boat just to give technical assistance. It is no simple task but the warm welcome and gratefulness of the people we serve [is] more than enough motivation for us.”

Turning 65 in October, Roxas says he will forever value the lessons from his decades in extension work. “I am confident that with the younger batch of community and extension workers, the DOSTFPRDI will be able to assist and reach more forest-based groups and small enterprises.”

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2018 issue.