Carrying a heavy load of grocery items that he bought from a retail chain in the neighboring town of Balamban, Rogelio Cuyos or “Elliot” as most people call him, was on his way to his motorcycle parked just a few meters away from the shop’s entrance when a man on a motorcycle suddenly stopped in front of him.
“Bai, ikaw si Elliot?” the man asked. A woman riding with him in the motorcycle nudged the man in protest, “Hoy, imong storyahan?”she asked the man. “Oo, kadungog ko maayu man kuno ni siyang tao, angay lang luwason.”
“Oo bai ako si Elliot. Ngano man unta?” he asked suddenly feeling uneasy.
“Asa man ka ni agi pag padung nimo diri? Naa ba kay lain maagian? Kung pwede ayaw lang og agi balik sa imong gi agian ganiha,” the man replied then rode off with the woman.
His whole body trembling in fear unsure of what to do after hearing the man’s warning, Elliot reached for his phone and dialed for help.
Elliot always recalls this time in his career between 2006 to 2007 when he received a lot of threats every time he is asked what he remembers most while working for Virginia Farms, Inc. under its subsidiary farm Asturias Farms, Inc.
Back then, he was already the Community Relations Officer of the company and was tasked to implement all the measures decided upon by the owners.
“That time the farm was slowly establishing its boundaries and with that, painful decisions have to be made including having families, whose houses have encroached into the property, transfer to another location.”
Elliot said, while the company provided for a relocation area, there were many who did not welcome the development and thought that it was his doing, so some began to send him threats – sometimes in text messages, calls or intimidating him by stalking him in his home.
But it was not how he feared for his life that he remembered that time for, it was how the company assured him and kept its word to protect him and his family during that very difficult time.
He admitted he almost gave up. He wanted out because he feared for his life and for his family but Operations Manager Mr. Rolando E. Tambago, now President of the company, convinced him not to.
“I remembered he told me ‘By quitting, do you think their harassment would stop? Stay with us, the company will not leave you, we have the means to protect you’. Despite the fear I felt, I decided to trust his words,” he said.
From that day on, Elliot just did his job bridging the company to the community and eventually succeed in making the community feel that the farm’s presence provided opportunities to the neighborhood.
He visits the neighborhood, converse with them and help get their concerns to the farm management and vice versa. He also helps establish programs that will benefit the community working hand-in-hand with the local government officials.
Soon his name become familiar to the people in the community. He becomes the person they reach out to for help like when a son or a daughter is in need of a job.
Fast forward to 2018, Elliot, being now close to the people in the community, was elected Barangay Councilor of Barangay San Isidro in Asturias.
He joked that he was voted by the people because they already know him through the work he does for the company.
“People started to know me because of the company. I am able to help them while also doing my job. I could say that what I’m doing is very rewarding, I feel happy being able to help.”
Elliot first joined the company in 1986 as an Electrician and then became the Maintenance Supervisor for Piggery 1 in 1987. He, however, left the company in 1999 to start his own piggery business.
In December of 2005, he was invited by Mr. Albert Chiongbian to join the company again, this time as Community Relations Officer.
He said he was hesitant at first since he was already 45 years old then and may no longer be effective in delivering his job, but the owners managed to convince him saying they need him to become the bridge between the company and the people around the community.
Having worked for the company for 14 years, Elliot said that he never regretted his decision to join the company and to trust in the company.
“I am very proud to belong to a company that takes care not only of its people but also of the people around the community it operates. I bear witness to this being the person who talks to the community on their behalf.”
Even now retired, Elliot continues to help the company saying he will continue to help Asturias Farms and the people, especially so now that he is an elected public servant.
“I learned that when we give or help, we actually get more than what we give. There is that feeling of satisfaction that no amount of money can provide,” said Elliot.