Christopher Pagas (32), was the third child in a farming family of seven. He lost his mother when he was
barely nine years old due to an unknown illness and he and his siblings were brought up by their father. At 16, Christopher and his siblings were orphaned when their father died from lung complications. The eldest sibling, Lalay was the one to look after the youngest children after their father’s death. As for Christopher, he had just graduated from high school so together with some relatives, he went to Cebu where he was lucky enough to ﬁnd a job as a waiter. A year later he applied for a scholarship with TESDA (a government training center) and did a vocational course in welding. Christopher completed his course in six months and was hired by Keppel company where he stayed until 2000.
Despite earning a reasonable salary, Christopher was unsettled as he longed to go back to farming. In 2001, he decided to go back to his hometown in Calape a town in the northern part of Bohol island. He settled in his former barangay and became a farmer again, growing rice, vegetables and root crops.
While in Banlasan, Christopher became close to Novilla (21), a neighbour and in 2011 they got married. The couple have a two year old child, Christian James. At present, the couple are staying in a house that belongs to Christopher’s relative who lives in Manila. They act as a caretaker of the one-roomed wooden
Christopher is the main provider for the family, working as a farmer. He grows rice on a relative’s plot of land and gets half of the harvest which is 15 sacks per year. He also has a half hectare of land of his own on which he grows bananas and sweet potatoes. Until June this year, he also cultivated bitter gourd but the pricing arrangement with a middleman was unfavourable so he did not replant. Christopher is keen to start bitter gourd farming again but on his own account; this is why he has approached the PSHF for a loan. He still has the nylon and the bamboo poles from the June cropping so what he needs now are seedlings, a plastic cover to keep the weeds down, fertilizers and funds to pay the ploughing costs. He will plant six rows and each row will have 60 bitter gourd plants.
Christopher is experienced in bitter gourd farming. He hopes to harvest an average of 200 kilos every six months and sell the produce at the ofﬁcial market price of 40 pesos per kilo as opposed to the 20 pesos per kilo price he obtained previously from the middleman. Christopher plans to save most of the additional income to have a house built for his family as he knows that his relative will return from Manila one day to live in his house.
Ireen O. Ingles
Christopher with his wife, Novilla and son, Christian James