Saturday, May 5, 2012

2 Day Visit to Imulayan Farm (METSA/KNBL)

More than a week ago we held a 2-day 'organic and sustainable agriculture' workshop at Imulayan Farm here in Davao City, and we are very grateful to all the staff/volunteers there for giving us a sincere welcome to their wonderful farm. Sad to say, they don't have much fresh produce at that moment but as expected, we learned many knowledge from them as we are trying to gather ideas for improving our garden. Together with three interested participants, the BHSG volunteers would like to share this important moment.      
Some  of their ducks for poultry

Aside from chickens, goats, and fish, they also planted fruits and vegetables for the people involved in their projects and the surplus goes to their little 'farmer's market' near the area organized by women farmers called KNBL. As they are using spring water for the farm, they installed a hand pump machine for lifting the water up so it can reach the areas that are high. 

Hand pump for supplying water to elevated areas 

Cacao bean nursery for making an income for some of the group's expenses/financial needs 

During the event, before exploring the different parts of the farm, we had lectures and exchange of ideas on green revolution, organic farming, alternative energy, and sustainable agriculture. Through this, we had the opportunity to explore each other's perspective and idea on organic gardening/farming.

Some of the pigs they want to keep for home bio-gas

For so many years, this group is also growing and saving varieties of organic native and imported rice for donations or supply to other farmers here in Mindanao. 

Different varieties of rice

During the last day of the activity we tackled many issues, principles, advantages and other possibilities regarding sustainable farming. After we had lunch, we discussed and learned about different ways of making natural fertilizers and bio-pesticides. Some of the inputs we've discussed are:

1. Fermented Plant and Fruit Juice
2. Lactic Acid Serum (Rice Wash)
3. Fish Amino Acid
4. TEA Fertilizers and
5. Vermiculture

Again, the BHSG volunteers would like to give thanks to METSA/KNBL Farmer's Association for this wonderful event.   

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Exploring the different aspects...

Lack of understanding, lack of interest...
Some of the attitudes toward the project I encountered in this neighborhood were quite astonishing and challenging. Interestingly enough, I wonder why some of these people managed to bear a life deprived of many beautiful and radiant things not only by the external factors, but they themselves are also inflicting the emptiness to the extent that seems their existence have been obliterated a long time ago. Of course, it is evident that it’s the job of the media and other ruling institutions to dumb down society and to reduce them to mere “cog in the money-hungry mega machine”, but what interest me the most is this – why they cannot clearly grasp an idea that directly speaks about their own deliverance, independence, and self-sufficiency? Why they cannot accept the fact that “a man/woman is his/her own doctor and his/her own guru”?

Consciously or unconsciously, all of us are looking for something greater and more meaningful experiences in life and I’m sure people in this neighborhood also do. But the most challenging part for me is – how to show them what really are these “cages” that prevent them from participating in the project and how and when are they going to break these cages. As I have said in my last post (existence), some of the factors are quite obvious and manageable and therefore, not hopeless! Though I sound negative and cynical, but as far as I’m concerned we are still doing our part to fight the apathy that dominates this neighborhood. Perhaps, we just have to show them more reasons and examples both through deeds and words. 

Hear it from the children (little adults or little parents)...
Listening to my "little" friends while working at the garden as they talked about the things that they do sometimes and the type of person they want to become in the future, I was a bit horrified as I carefully followed their conversation that flows in a simple but bothersome manner. They were talking about how they like to use guns and other deadly weapons to fight their “enemies”. Of course, for parents who are not familiar with the issue of the adverse psychological impact of the mass media, it’s only the “innocent childish imagination” inside their heads talking and asserting the message of hostility to each other. What most of their parents don’t know is that there is more stuff at the core of this disturbing issue: the adverse effect of the electronic media, particularly the television and the video games. Anybody familiar with the evolution of war video games these days can easily identify how it’s promotional adverts look like - I mean how attractive or sexist or aggressive and violent it is. So the whole content of the product itself, being sold or free to children! Without limitation to age, this “amusement” is now clearly one of the most dominant technologies of our time being psychologically inflicted to our fellows that are supposed to be rational, creative, intelligent and compassionate beings. Meanwhile in television, messages of sexism, aggression, patriarchy, spectatorship, stupidity, consumerism, patriotism, etc. are also being constantly persuaded by the “captains of consciousness”.  These images and memes help strengthen the wall of separation - separation to oneself and to the wholeness and therefore accepting them is allowing the hooks of trauma to one’s flesh and to others, so to speak.

I remember the girl uttered how she wishes to have swords and other weapons I didn’t even knew before it existed. The boy said when he grew up he wants to be a soldier so that he can help the government fight against the “terrorist” aiming to destroy “his country” and to sabotage the economy (as what I’ve understood!). They were also calmly trying to give a clear description on how they want to kill and what would be the best weapon to use! The girl is about 4 and the boy is about 5 or 6 year-old I guess. While listening and thinking about them, I thought of their parents. Like me, they also grew up in these messages/notions and I wonder how it affects their attitude towards the project as well. How they manage the trauma being “passed through generations by their ancestors”, as what R.D. Laing said. And I thought of the other volunteers as well, I wonder how often they watch TV or play video games. These are our future companions too; I was hoping that they will slowly grasp the essence of the project and the whole being of BHSG itself. And that’s the reason why I decided to tackle this aspect, I want to complain and do something to face these challenges. In working at the garden with them, I still experience and witness undesirable, traumatic things – homophobia, bullying, etc. combined with Christian conservatism and nuclear family orientation. As coordinators, these challenges become more complex and therefore hard to combat. Hopefully, we will have the strength all the time to fight these deterrents…

In these past few days, we are thinking much about how to deal with it - these unfair “mainstream” biases, notions, or attitude towards gender, culture, age, beliefs, etc. that directly or indirectly affects the project. What kinds of workshops, discussions, or evaluation are we going to conduct or use to challenge these things. As the momentum and motivation of the volunteers go up and down or high and low, it also affects our energy in little ways; we feel the negative vibration of obstruction and uncertainty pulling us from below. But we know it’s up to us how to face and manage for attunement. Patience, calmness, perceptiveness, focus, and conscious insights and decisions, these are some of the important things that we will hold on to.