French couple built modern Leyte Rice Center ; gets praise from Duterte

French couple built modern Leyte Rice Center ; gets praise from Duterte

It is always pleasant to hear a good news about Filipinos doing good for the benefit of the community.
But to hear foreigners who is living the so called “life” ditching that to help alleviate poverty in the Philippines is one for the history books.

A French couple decided to leave all they have (Patrick owned one of the largest printing presses in France, while Rachel was a successful investment banker and decided to help the people that was devastated by the super typhoon Yolanda.
Aerial view of the state-of-the-art Renucci Rice Processing Center (left) put up by Patrick Renucci and Rachel Renucci-Tan (photo from PDI)

French national Patrick Renucci and his Filipino wife Rachel move to Leyte to set up a sustainable business to help the people recover.”

“We were living in Paris, we used to live a beautiful life, a comfortable life, then came typhoon Yolanda. And you know typhoon Yolanda is the biggest typhoon ever in the world. And all the media in the world put the image on TV and we were all shocked,” Patrick Renucci said.
“We were so affected that my wife and I decided to move to Leyte to set up a sustainable business to help the people recover.”
They started where no bank can initiate, they provided low-interest loans and provided seeds at zero interest to farmers. They would then buy rice harvests at above-market prices.
“We discovered a well-kept secret that not many Filipinos know: Leyte is the top rice-producing region in the country. So we said, 'okay, so much palay but not so many post-harvest facilities.' Let’s invest our money here. Let’s put what we have in this province and at the same time help our farmers, at the same time bring technology to the Philippines and bring world-class rice to the Filipino people,” Rachel said.
fully automated, digitally controlled driers bring down the moisture content of palay to the desired 14 percent. (photo credit to PDI

Four years later, the couple hard work gave birth to Alang-Alang, Southeast Asia’s most technologically advanced rice processing center. 
The center uses new technology in drying, storing and milling rice, which is expected to help significantly increase farmers’ harvest and incomes.

So impressed with the technological achievement of the couple, no other than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte toured the facility during its inauguration, Duterte said that he wants to replicate the couple’s business model in other parts of the country.
“Really, I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if we can work together, if you want to stay in the Philippines, and I said considering the amount that you have invested… I'm not that rich but I can give you another P1.5 billion to do your thing,” Duterte said. 
top of the 32-meter-high silos that store dried palay. (photo credit to PDI)

“We have the money. Not much, but we have the money, and we can replicate that in about… Well, I am putting him to task in Mindanao.”

And as a sign of respect and recognition to Patrick, the President offered a Filipino citizenship and expressed his desire to appoint the Frenchman to his cabinet.

“Ah, maybe I'll try --- experimental lang naman. If he becomes a naturalized citizen, then I think he is qualified to be a member of the Cabinet. Then I can maybe ask Sir Patrick that you join us and help us because it’s really agriculture. Most of it is really the stomach of the Filipino,” Duterte said.

No Regrets

The Renuccis would sometinnes think about the life they had in the “romance capital of the world” – Paris, but they have no regrets. They plan to stay for good in Leyte, as they plan to reach out and help more farmers in the province.

“Paris is a beautiful city. Sometimes we have some regrets because we have beautiful restaurants [and] we used to have beautiful friends. In fact, we cannot compare. We are very happy here in the Philippines because of what we are doing,” Patrick said.
“I’ve lived all over the world and it feels right coming home,” Rachel said. 
“To be able to achieve this while at the same time alleviating lives of Filipinos is a different kind of happiness, it’s incomparable.”

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Report from ABS-CBN News

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