No grand celebration. People were seen on virtual screens. Confettis were on AVPs. Coordinations were done remotely. 

This was far from the dream that was created in the heart of each one. Not so typical, as others may say. For a milestone of having witnessed the 70th year of the institution you call your second home, what was done is far from what was planned. 

This is one side of the story.

On the other hand, you will hear statements such as “God’s grace and faithfulness have always been with us,” “We have done it successfully even amid an unprecedented time.” And so, though virtually, we have celebrated our milestone in a way it should have been. This is a testament to God’s abounding favor to us. 

This is the Bureau of Soils and Water Management at 70: Towards a Sustainable Management of Soil and Water for Agriculture.

The preparation days were both challenging and surprising given the limited resources, technical concerns, and sudden changes. But we are unstoppable. We made our way through. This started during the administrative week where the Head of each Unit has shared timely and relevant lessons to its audience. The succeeding week was then devoted to the sessions from the Technical Divisions – the Launch of the NPAAAD-SAFDZ Maps by the Agricultural Land Management Evaluation Division, the Updates on the Implementation of Presidential Decree No. 1435 by the Laboratory Services Division, the BSWM: Taking the Lead in the Asian Soil Partnership Governance 2021-2023 by the Laboratory Services Division, Soil and Water Resources Research Division, and the Office of the Director, and the Symposium on Soil and Water Research and Development Studies by the RDS Committee.

04 June 2021, the culminating activity was held, with the employees gathering online. Though not a typical anniversary celebration for the Bureau – no after-event hugs, no photo opportunities with the favorite workmates, no luncheon, still the event was a success. Adding to it was the launch of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Hymn, composed and sung by Mr. Noel Cabangon. Indeed, a mark of a milestone.

As part of the anniversary week celebration, there was also a day for the recognition of the employees’ outstanding performance for the year that has been through the 2021 PRAISE Awarding Ceremony.  

The management has also come up with an idea of recognizing the agencies, institutions, organizations, and private entities that have been partnering with the BSWM in its pursuit towards the fulfillment of its mandate on the sustainable management of soil and water resources for agriculture. This was made possible through the “Pagpupugay 2021: The BSWM Toast to Partners.” This event is aimed at recognizing the contributions of the BSWM partners through the years.

Traveling Back in Time

Looking at the walls on the outer part of the BSWM Lopez Convention Hall, framed photos of different persons will be sighted. These are the people who have guided the Bureau since 1951.

Yes. It all started in 1951. June 5 of that year, the then Bureau of Soil Conservation was organized through the enactment of Republic Act no. 622. Wherein the first-ever Director was Dr. Marcos M. Alicante. During that time, there were only five divisions — and the rest is history. It was then on January 30, 1987, when then-President Corazon C. Aquino,  through Executive Order 116, reorganized the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, to include in its mandate the sustainable management of water resources for agriculture. 

From then until now, there have been a lot of in-betweens. A lot of employees have come and gone. Several programs, projects, and activities were on the books. Many experiences and achievements were both celebrated and embedded deep within the hearts.

And the story continues…

A Glimpse of What Will Be

The success of the Bureau does not end in its 70th. There is more in store for us as we take on the challenge of being the nationally mandated agency in the sustainable management of soil and water resources for agriculture. This, in line with the Department of Agriculture’s twin objectives, “Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita,” towards a food-secure and resilient Philippines with empowered and prosperous farmers and fisherfolk

Prior to the culmination of the anniversary celebration, Director Sonia M. Salguero instructed BSWM officials to submit their respective Division and Unit’s ways forward for the next coming years. This was presented by the Director during the culminating event through a video presentation. Indeed, we have been claiming where we are headed. 

From the point of view of someone who is yet to experience a lot in the Bureau, it can be said that the presentation of the ways forward is a symbolic act on how we claim what’s ahead. We are moving forward. We are yet to attain success, double to what we have already accomplished. This is because we work together, we work in unity, we work for the common goal of being in service to the farmers and fisherfolk – the very essence of our vocation for the nation.

Here’s to welcoming another year for the Bureau of Soils and Water Management. Here’s to a celebration of a milestone. Here’s to not ending, but to moving forward to achieving more for the nation. 

Cheers to another 70 years and beyond.