BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY, TAGUIG. Cherrie Atilano, AGREA President and Founding Farmer, represented women in agriculture at the Women’s Summit 2019 last 8 March 2019 at Samsung Hall, SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City. She joined the panel of speakers on the session entitled “Magnifying Women’s Voices and Participation: Creating an Equal World.”
Together with her in the panel were Senator Risa Hontiveros, Ambassador of Austria to the Philippines Bita Rasoulian, and Lt. Col. Jan Chavez-Arceo of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The panel was moderated by international news anchor, Annalisa Burgos.
The primary goal of the summit was to contribute to the promotion of women’s rights and welfare, by raising awareness on violence against women, women’s economic empowerment, and women’s socio-political involvement.
Cherrie’s journey in magnifying her voice and participation in agriculture was never an easy path. Her advice in getting through challenges is: “For you to be a role model in your field, you have to surround yourself with people who empower you to be your best.”
“We all need a support system that can help us achieve our goals for the common good,” she added.
Cherrie shared her inspiring journey, in the ever-challenging agriculture sector in the Philippines. She cited four turning points in her life, which steered her towards her lifelong mission of making Filipino farmers world-class. These turning points were instrumental, in magnifying her voice and participation as a woman, to lead agriculture and food security initiatives in various communities here in the Philippines.
First was her first business pitch, which was convincing her mother to buy her a bicycle as a gift for her twelfth birthday. With this bicycle, she was able to teach farmers sustainable ways on farming that she read from a book. Second, was during her valedictory speech in her high school graduation. She was not able to finish her speech when a truck full of farmers raised a banner saying: “Congratulations Ma’am Cherrie, our teacher.”
These two turning points in Cherrie’s life at a young age, led her to take an Agriculture degree. Her heart and mind were set to serve and uplift the agriculture sector.
Third was her pioneering work in BayanAnihan, a program arm of Gawad Kalinga. BayanAnihan established 1,300 Community Farms around the Philippines, impacting 60,000 families. And fourth was her volunteer work in training 1,000 prisoners in Bilibid Prison every Saturday. She trained prisoners about farming techniques that can help them have access to nutritious and healthy food.
These turning points are pivotal experiences in paving Cherrie’s vision and mission for AGREA.
AGREA is an innovative inclusive business based in the Marinduque, an island province in the Philippines where Cherrie is President, CEO, and Founding Farmer. AGREA aims to create a living model of a replicable one-island economy that is zero hunger, zero waste, and zero insufficiency. Its social mission is the cultivation of human beings through livelihood that is indigenous to the land.
Cherrie Atilano is just one of the many amazing people in the agriculture sector who are “breaking the grass-ceiling” every day.
Women’s Summit 2019 was made possible by The Office of the Vice President of the Philippines, and SPARK!, supported by the Embassy of Sweden, the Austrian Embassy, the United Nations Population Fund, and the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. -Christine Jodloman/The AGREA Team