By Marita Moaje

LANDOWNER AT LAST. Lino Malasaga, 92, from Southern Leyte could not contain his happiness after receiving his land title for the land that he was tilling since he was 12. The Department of Agrarian Reform said that Malasaga was the oldest recipient in Eastern Visayas of individual land titles handed by the DAR during the simultaneous distribution of CLOAs nationwide on July 7, 2023. (Photo courtesy of DAR) 

MANILA – After tilling the same land for 80 years, a 92-year-old abaca farmer from Southern Leyte finally achieved his lifelong dream of owning that land after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) handed him his certificate of land ownership award (CLOA).

Lino Malasaga from Barangay Hantag in Maasin narrated that he started tilling the same land when he was 12 years old and that he almost could not believe that said land is now registered under his name.

Bilang panganay, inako ko ang responsibilidad ng aking ama nang mamatay siya. Nagsumikap ako sa lupang iyon para pakainin ang aking ina at ang aking mga kapatid. Kaya nga hindi ako nakapag-aral (As the eldest, I shouldered the responsibility of my father when he died. I worked hard on that land to feed my mother and my siblings. That is why I was unable to go to school),” he added.

Malasaga shared that at his current age, he never expected that the day would come when he could hold the land title that he had longed for.

Malasaga’s story was posted on the DAR website on Monday.

DAR Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Vissa Arnela Villa said Malasaga was awarded 1.2 hectares.

The same lot is part of the 6.4-hectare abaca farm that was once covered by a collective CLOA, situated in the adjacent village, Malapoc Sur.

Malasaga expressed his gratitude to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III for keeping their promise.

Now that he has become a widow, Malasaga is advised by his children to rest from his farming activities and let them continue tilling their land.

Last July 7, President Marcos signed into law Republic Act 11953, or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act.

On the same day, a simultaneous CLOA distribution was held covering 39,268.8051 hectares and granted to a total of 27,132 agrarian reform beneficiaries nationwide including Malasaga making him the oldest recipient of individual land titles in Eastern Visayas.

He said that for farmers, “ang lupa ay buhay (land is life),” adding, “Ito, sa amin, ang aming buhay, na tutulong sa amin na matiyak ang kinabukasan ng aming mga anak (This, to us, is our life, which will help us secure the future of our children),” he said. (PNA)