Seeds of Life
*This is a story of a small group of organic farmers and their supporters in Bugon, Sariaya, living at the foothills of Mount Banahaw in the province of Quezon, Philippines, which mediated and coordinated the Biggest Human Peace Sign of 12,000 people October 2009, during the World March for Peace and Nonviolence in the Philippines.*
What role can a small rural community of farmers play on the global stage? Are their local efforts measured as insignificant in the limelight of world events? It’s time to re-think how we look at the people of the farming communities.
BINHI is a people’s organization, a community-based farmers group. It stands for Binhi ng Buhay ng Mga Magsasaka sa Bugon (Seeds of Life of the Farmers of Bugon) and their aim is to improve the sustainability of farming livelihood by engaging in organic production, respect for biodiversity and the protection of Mount Banahaw.
Last year, its officers became the prime movers of the Lucena event in coordination with the World Without Wars organisation. They got the support of the district congressional office, Lucena National High School, cultural groups, non-government organizations, farmers, fishermen, local government units and other local groups. Their many years dedicated to promoting organic farming and the protection of Mount Banahaw had created relationships and linkages within the bigger community of Quezon that led to the inspiring demonstration for peace and a nuclear arms free world.
It was only last year, on December 11 2009, that Mount Banahaw was declared a protected area through the passing of the law Republic Act 9847. The mountain is revered as a mystical mountain and its environs are considered sacred by local residents. Because of this, Mount Banahaw is host to more than 200 religious sects that are found in the many towns situated on its foothills encompassing the provinces of Laguna and Quezon. It’s waters are considered to have purifying and healing properties and the mountain is a traditional pilgrimage site for locals. It is one of the active volcanoes on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
Bugon is one of the many small farming communities living at the foothills of this spiritually charged mountain. In celebration of the first anniversary of the passing of law RA 9847, BINHI organized the first wildling collection activity in Bugon on the slopes of Mount Banahaw.
A small group of farmers met and climbed the mountains (three peaks) to identify mother trees and collect wildlings growing at the base of the mother trees. While the farmers were collecting wildlings in the mountains, the womenfolk were bagging the soil to be used for wildling propagation. A wildling nursery for the collected samples was set up.
This activity is part of BINHI’s project for rainforestation which is the system of planting and propagating trees originally found in the mountains. The simple activity is part of a wider vision of long term agri-forestry development in the area and their contribution to the never changing problem of climate change.
This simple working activity in celebration of Mount Banahaw’s status as a protected area will go unnoticed by the world. But the residents and farming community of Bugon are fulfilling their dreams in this small step that will lead to wide open futures for their children and grandchildren, and who knows we may once again be globally inspired, for the essence that embodies BINHI represents the best of human intentions and actions that changes a world.
Many partners such as Ang Komunidad Para sa Ikauunlad ng Tao (the Community) and the Southern Luzon State University are counted among those who are helping in the project. The rainforestation is a component of BINHI’s proposal for environmental and livelihood sustainability supported by the United Nations Development Program and the local government.