Negros native and LANDBANK scholars find hope in Agriculture

Friday, April 20, 2018

“There was a time when I wasn’t able to eat for four straight days because I really had no money left.” – Kenneth Catinoy, 23, recalls of his undergraduate journey at the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) as a BS Agriculture Student.

A native of Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, Kenneth has been exposed to the challenges of farm life at an early age because of his father who is both a farmer and a fisher. This encouraged him to take up agriculture and contribute to the development of the field.

“I feel like Agriculture, as an area of expertise, is being neglected by incoming college freshmen. This made me more passionate in pursuing this course because I believe that it should be the primary economic driver of our country,” he said.

The fourth among six siblings, Kenneth became the first in his family to finish college when he graduated last month with magna cum laude honors to boot. But this sweet ending did not come easy for him. Aside from the typical student’s struggle of maintaining good grades, he had to overcome major financial constraints.

For his first two years in college, his parents would send him P1000 per month for allowance which he struggled to survive on to cover his food, fare, and school expenses.

On his junior year, Kenneth knew he had to look for a scholarship program if he wanted to continue his studies. Luckily, that was also the year when the LANDBANK Gawad Patnubay Scholarship Program (GPSP) came to their university.

Hoping to ease the financial burden of his family, he tried his luck and applied for a grant through GPSP. After thorough screening and deliberation, Kenneth was awarded with a scholarship and became part of the pioneer batch of GPSP scholars in NORSU.

“I still consider myself blessed and fortunate to be one of the recipients of the GPSP. With this grant, I was able to pursue my dreams as an agriculturist and create an opportunity to serve others, be it my family or my community,” he shared.

LANDBANK Gawad Patnubay Scholarship Program

Kenneth is only one of over a hundred scholars that LANDBANK GPSP supports across the country.

GPSP is a scholarship program that supports underprivileged but deserving students who want to specialize in the fields of agriculture and fisheries. The program specifically targets children of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries taking up agriculture-related courses who are able to demonstrate the drive to finish their studies and pursue careers in the field of agriculture.

Additionally, GPSP has an education-to-employment (E2E) component that aims to help scholars secure agriculture-related jobs at the end of the program through a 10-week internship program in LANDBANK and its partner-institutions such as the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Rice Research Institution (PhilRice), Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), and HARBEST Agribusiness Corporation (HARBEST) to name a few.

“LANDBANK believes in investing on our youth to hone future professionals and trailblazers in the field of agriculture and fisheries. In turn, we hope that they will be instrumental in boosting the growth and productivity of our agriculture sector,” LANDBANK President and CEO Alex V. Buenaventura said.

The scholarship covers full subsidy of tuition fee, including monthly stipend, book allowance, thesis funding, licensure examination review and examination subsidy, financial award for honor students from P30,000 to P50,000 cash incentive.

A new generation of hope

Kenneth, who is now preparing for the Agriculturist Licensure Exam in June, hopes that the Bank will continue to fund the education of less fortunate but deserving college students in order to breed a new generation of farmers and fishers.

“I am so thankful to all Landbankers for their selflessness to make the GPSP possible. My educational success would not have come to fruition if not for their generous hearts,” Catinoy said.

The program has a unique funding scheme wherein LANDBANK’s 8,000-strong employees voluntarily donate a minimum of one hour’s worth of their salary, which then forms 50% of the total program funding.

Since its inception in 2013, the LANDBANK GPSP has supported over 100 scholars, with 80% of its graduates now successfully employed in LANDBANK and its subsidiaries, in partner-institutions such as IRRI, PhilRice, PCC, HARBEST, and other agriculture-related firms, through the E2E internship component of the program.

A new set of scholars stand to benefit from the program with the ongoing screening for this year’s GPSP applicants.

LANDBANK currently accepts scholars from 17 State Universities and Colleges across the country. These include Benguet State University, Mariano Marcos State University, Isabela State University, Central Luzon State University, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Marinduque State College, and Central Bicol State University of Agriculture in Luzon.

For the Visayas region, University of the Philippines Visayas (Miag-ao Campus), Bohol Island State University, Visayas State University, and NORSU are LANDBANK’s partners in this program.

In Mindanao, the Jose Rizal Memorial State University, Central Mindanao University, University of Southeastern Philippines, University of Southern Mindanao, Surigao del Sur State University, and Mindanao State University complete the list of LANDBANK’s partner SUCs.

Interested applicants may inquire with the Student Affairs Offices of their respective schools for the requirements and the screening schedule. For more information, log on to www.landbank.com.