BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR) bids adieu to Field Operations Division (FOD) chief Virginia Atmosfera Tapat as she steps down in public service, leaving behind a remarkable legacy that is considered a benchmark for younger employees of DA-CAR.
Prior to her employment in DA-CAR, she was a fresh cum laude graduate who majored in Agriculture Education trying her luck in entering the academe where she was supposed to teach after she was promised to but failed to do so after a shift in administration.
As she needed to support her family in Abra, she was supposed to work as a technician in a remote area in Lagangilang, Abra.
But before she even started to take her role, she was advised to apply to DA-CAR as there were many vacancies at that time. She entered the department in July 1989 as an Agriculturist II through a recommendation by a municipal agriculturist to former Assistant Regional Director Antonio Balneg and continued this position until December 1993.
She was then promoted as a Senior Agriculturist from December 1993 until May 2013 under the Operations Division. She was again promoted as a Supervising Agriculturist from May 2013-June 2015.
She then leveled up as a Chief Agriculturist and served from June 2015-July 2020. She also served as a Project Management Officer V from June 2020 to July 2023.
Simultaneous to her promotion as a Supervising Agriculturist, she was designated as the OIC-FOD chief, and finally served as a full-fledged FOD chief a year after until 2023.
Because of her exemplary performance, she had a short stint as the OIC-Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations in 2022 when Atty. Jennilyn M. Dawayan was designated as the OIC-Regional Executive Director (OIC-RED) of Region I.
During the course of her career and leadership, she has significantly contributed and led many successful national programs and projects being implemented in the region, especially banner programs under her supervision. Tapat has been a hands-on leader as she always ensures the success of these programs and projects that champion the farmers.
One of her notable achievements was leading the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP). Being under the Rice program, she led the project together with the Research Division (ResD) chief Magdalena T. Wanawan, in collaboration with PhilRICE and International Rice Research Institute. The HRP paved the way for the said indigenous commodity to finally be recognized as a significant commodity. The project underscores the importance of its preservation as this also provides livelihood to rice farmers, and a huge potential economic, environmental and ecological contributor.
The project focused on enhancing productivity and livelihoods and conserve in situ on-farm farmer-preferred heirloom/traditional climate-resilient varieties and upland food crops by providing rice genetic resources and management options to smallholder groups and enterprises as models.
Aside from her leadership, her management skills, dedication and commitment in public service are among her many noteworthy achievements throughout her 34 years in service, which were highlighted by her former and current colleagues.
Former regional director chief Wanawan particularly described her personality and work ethics through her nickname ‘Virgie’ as an acronym: Versatile/Vocal, Industrious, Responsible, Galante, Impartial, and Enthusiastic. “She truly embodies her surname ‘Tapat’. Tapat isuna iti trabaho, tapat isuna iti pamilya na. Tapat isuna iti friends and clients na. (She is honest in her work, she is honest with her family. She is honest with her friends and clients). That summarizes her as a person,” she said.
DA-CAR OIC-RED Atty. Jennilyn M. Dawayan expressed her gratitude to Tapat for her undying dedication in work as she was still extending her services even when she was on leave before the day of her retirement. Dawayan also reiterated Tapat’s excellent skills as a leader of FOD as she witnessed the division’s close-knit relationship and their exceptional performances. “This speaks much of her as a leader. That is why we would have recommended you again to be the OIC-RTD for Research and Regulations but knowing you are retiring would also be unfair. I was in fact giving instructions without realizing that you are retiring during the PBBM visit in Abra. I guess my brain was resisting the fact that you are leaving. But looking at the young people that you have mentored over the years, I think we will be having a lot of mini Virgies in the long run. It’s a consolation to DA-CAR that these people have received your mentorship that hopefully will be of help to the Agency,” she said.
In an emotional message, Tapat expressed her gratitude to all her colleagues that assisted and stayed by her side during her entire time serving the farmers in the Cordillera. She said that her successes in DA-CAR will not be possible without their assistance. She likewise expressed her regrets in leaving her post for more important and personal reasons. “I would like to acknowledge the people who assisted me during my 34-year journey in DA-CAR. I am truly grateful for all of your help. I would like to thank all the staff that helped me and made my work easier. I also apologize for I know I have let you down for my decision, but I am thankful for your understanding for my reasons. But I promise that I will continue to help the Agency on my own small ways, especially in PAFES, HRP and in Abra to make your work easier. I will never let others criticize our Agency and the works we do. I will remain loyal to the Department even as a private sector,” she expressed.
Undeniably, Tapat will leave behind a remarkable legacy that will be inherited by the employees next to her and will live up to her name as one of the most hard-working, dedicated and committed public servants. Her contributions to DA and to the farmers of the Cordillera will also leave a mark that will forever be embedded in the Agency’s accomplishment in shaping farmers’ lives. By CEWaytan