Monday, June 22, 2015

When I change, the village changes

"You should try farming.", advised my 80 year old friend.

I was reluctant but try I did.

I thought of starting with a vegetable garden because I cannot understand why the farmers have to buy from the market when they can just grow food.  You see, they only plant fruit-bearing trees in our village.   

I visited our place recently and I noticed that most of our neighbors are now planting vegetables for their own consumption and are selling the extra produce.  Even the Mangyans in the farm have their own vegetable garden! 

Since I am a newbie, I asked lots of questions such as, "So, what do you do when the fruit season is over?".  Most of them told me that they simply tighten their belts.  "What do the wealthy farmers do?", I prodded.  "They invest in livestock", they answered. 

Of late, I observed that most villagers have their own piggery and flock of chicken.

I spotted items for merchandise in the boondocks.  The Mangyans would laugh at me though whenever I use the handwoven basket I bought from them.  They didn't know that their products are of great value and environmentally-friendly to boot.

Recently, we sold some of their works and they were so happy that "Tagalogs" (that's how they call the non-Mangyans") appreciate their craftmanship.  

I've met children without dreams.  Before when I asked them, "What do you want to be when you grow up?".  They answered with, "Wala po" (No one).  After 7 months of intermittent coaching, they are now saving up for their dreams.  The boy with a stick wants to have his own farm while the other boy wants to be a seaman.  

I am not saying that I (and Sister Nory, my 60 year old friend who usually comes with me to the farm) brought about the changes in our small village.  I feel that we simply shook things up when we started questioning their usual ways and showed them that the village has a lot of potential.  

Whenever I go down the boondocks, our neighbors often ask, "What do you do up there?" (the farm is a 30 minute trek from the village center) 

I want to retort, "I'm planting seeds of hope." 

*photos by Nory San Juan

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