Jesus Cortes, 42 years old from Mandaue City, vowed to use his prize money of around P30,000 to improve a garden space as an expansion of his containerized vegetable gardening project in response to the food security initiative of the Cebu Provincial Government dubbed as "SUGBUsog (Sugbuanong Busog, Luwas ug Himsog)."
Cortes won in the provincial level of the contest and received his award Wednesday, August 26, in Consolacion town with Governor Gwendolyn Garcia handing out the prize and certificate, along with Mayor Joannes "Joyjoy" Alegado, 6th District Rep. Emmarie "Lollipop" Ouano-Dizon, 6th District Provincial Board Members Jovito Thadeo "Jonkie" Ouano and Glenn Anthony Soco, among others.
Cortes' top prize worth P8,000 was doubled as Congresswoman Ouano-Dizon pledged another P8,000 as a counterpart. Dizon also raised the prize money for the other two winners in her district.
Cortes utilized only 100 square meters of gardening space via the containerized garden category in his home in Purok 4, Barangay Canduman, Mandaue City.
He lost his job as a tricycle driver after a lockdown in March was imposed as a government response to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and decided to plant vegetables using the free SUGBUsog seeds provided by the Provincial Agriculturist's Office led by Dr. Roldan Saragena.
Cortes looked at the pandemic as a portal which opened an opportunity for him to consider farming despite the lack in experience and expertise.
He was able to put food on the table amid the health crisis and sell 50 containers of Chinese kangkong and pechay.
"Mihangyo ko sa among barangay nga mo-display ko. Wala pa'y thirty minutes hurot na ang Chinese kangkong ug pechay," Cortes shared.
His place is now a tourist attraction because of the attractive quality of the produce.
"Organic man gud ang atong fertilizer. Tubâ ni nga gisagula'g tubig unya giasukaran. Kanang brown sugar or kanang kinugay. Ayaw nang white. Mao ni gihimo naku nga pang-spray against insects and worms," he narrated.
"Wala gyud ta mogamit og harsh fertilizers kay mao na’y maka-cause og cancer," Cortes added.
"SUGBUsog offers hope. Kon wala nay paglaum wala na'y kinabuhi. Di man mahimo nang manago ta tungod sa kahadlok sa Covid. Molihok man gyud ta aron manginabuhi," Governor Garcia said.
"Ang kinabuhi maanindot gihapon taliwala sa mga hagit. Bisan sa mga suliran nga atong gisagubang misulbong na usab ang paglaum nga kitang tanan sa Probinsya sa Sugbo molambo. Mao kana ang rason nganong duna ta niining SUGBUsog," she added.
Winners in the Municipal level in household backyard and containerized gardening received P3,000 for 1st prize, P2,000 for 2nd prize, and P1,000 for third prize.
Purok backyard and containerized gardening received P5,000; P3,000; and P2,000 for top three prizes, respectively.
Household backyard and containerized in the District level: P5,000 for first prize, P4,000 for 2nd prize; P3,000 for third prize.
Purok backyard and containerized: P8,000 for 1st prize; P6,000 for second prize, and P5,000 for third prize.
Provincial level household backyard and containerized gardening category prizes are P10,000 for first place; P8,000 for second place; and P6,000 for third place.
Purok backyard and containerized category winners get P20,000 as 1st prize; P15,000 as 2nd prize, and P10,000 as third prize.
Next wave of awarding will be in December based on the criteria on the financial assistance granted by the Province to the municipal level at P500,000 and barangay level at P100,000 to sustain the program. (Eleanor Valeros)