Freedom against poverty caused by the coronavirus disease pandemic became the center of the celebration of the Yamang Bukid of the country’s 122nd Independence Day and the launching of its 3.6-hectare extension farm in Barangay Bacungan on June 12.
Hope Alas, Yamang Bukid vice president for tourism affairs, said Friday that the opening of the extension farm on June 12 is also to celebrate Philippine Independence Day with farmers and the community that provide and secure food supply sufficiency.
“It’s not just the launching but the major purpose is really to celebrate Independence Day and to celebrate it with a twist. We’ve been free but there is one prison na nandoon tayo and that prison is the prison of hunger and poverty. Lalong-lalo na ngayon sa pandemic kasi majority of Filipinos lost their jobs. Ang nangyari, kapag nawawalan ka ng trabaho, ang sunod na mangyayari ay you lose access to food,” she said.
Food security will only happen not if we have a lot of big farms but it starts at home, sa backyard natin meron tayong ganoon. That’s the freedom that we want to send to the people, freedom from hunger, and to achieve food security,” Alas added.
Alas stressed that planting does not need large land areas. It could happen even in household backyards.
Compared to the other farms of Yamang Bukid, which is into integrated farming, the extension will produce vegetable products. Farmers of Yamang Bukid spent 21 days in clearing and planting vegetables such as different varieties of lettuce like Dolorosa, Parris Island, Curly green, Green wave, and Romaine lettuce
She said that their area along the highway will inspire more locals who would like to start planting in their spaces.
“Kasi highway siya na parang kapag nakita, ay may ganito ako kaliit na lupa, puwede ko pala gayahin. Pinakita na rin namin yong technology, hindi namin siya pinagdadamot sa iba na kapag dumaan sila, puwede sila magtanong kung ano ‘yong fertilizer namin, paunti-unti, ma-i-educate ang tao na puwede pala na ganito lang kaliit,” she said.
Alas said from its launching, the extension farm will be opened to the public without any entrance fee as learning farming should be free to everyone.
The extension farm, according to Alas, will impart that there are hope and freedom in farming.
Unlike other businesses that retrenched workers and employees, Yamang Bukid even increased its workforce to over 400 and also hired additional farmers from Bacungan.
To drumbeat its extension farms intention, the farm invited different government agencies and groups of bikers to join the launching. From 50 bikers, Alas said over a hundred joined from the Capitol Bikers, Bike for Health, Padyak Heroes, City Bikers, NSDP, and Downhill Enduro Palawan Bikers.
Alas said Yamang Bukid is thankful to them for their support even when there was an enhanced community quarantine.
“During the pandemic, nakakuha kami ng courage and strength from the bikers kasi kahit nag-lockdown na at lahat, pumupunta pa rin sila sa amin. May tao at may tao na pumupunta na kahit walang means of transport, puwede naman na di sila pumunta ng farm pero pinuntahan nila kami,” she said.
The land area used by Yamang Bukid Farm is under an agreement with Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena which later allowed the use of the farm to give job opportunities.
Sr. Meriza Ocampo, Holy Trinity University (HTU) president, said that like their mission to help others, they also believed in the advocacy of Yamang Bukid.
“Ang arrangement namin ay ipapagamit namin yong lupa for the reason of helping others, other than that wala pa kaming anything in paper but may pinag-usapan sa Manila, sa aming main office, na-meet na nila yong aming superior sa Manila. Ang clear sa amin ay ipapagamit ang lupa for the sake of others to have livelihood,” Ocampo said.
“Kung kaming mga sisters, hindi namin kakayanin to create jobs for others because of this land. With the investment of Yamang Bukid and we knew that they can because they have means and really just because of our trust and confidence sa mga advocacies ng Yamang Bukid that is why we allowed this property to be used,” she added.