Aetas Go Organic

September 30th, 2010

Last September 23 and 24, ELF brought four visitors from Bangladesh to Botolan Zambales, to meet the Aeta leader-graduates of our Grassroots Leadership Course. Imon, Aman, Bashir, and Rosy work with Protiggya Parishad, an NGO that is focused on the Comilla district in Bangladesh.

We first met the Aeta basic literacy facilitators and A and E instructional facilitators (they prefer this term to that of Instructional Manager) of PBAZ, led by Letty Gomez. The young leaders of LAKAS who hosted us were led by Tubag.

They shared with our visitors their story of how lowlanders exploited their illiteracy, and how the FMM sisters led by Sr. Menggay trained them and eventually helped them federate into LAKAS even before Mt. Piinatbo erupted. Letty continued their story after the eruption, with the training they got from ELF on leadership, especially in communications and negotiations.

The following day, we met the older leader-graduates at the organic farm of Carling, the president of LAKAS. His predecessor Tay Ben was also there, together with the very first president of LAKAS, Paylot. Their retelling of the many years of struggle was both lively and poignant.

Our lunch was mainly freshly harvested vegetables from Carling’s farm, and he proudly led our visitors on a guided tour of the six hectares that the LAKAS leaders had converted to organic agriculture. We ended with a planning session on how to negotiate for support from the Department of Agriculture, so that we can use their farms to train other Aetas in organic farming, which they will implement in the upland farms they will start in their ancestral domain.

Here are some pictures from that visit.Organic lunch

Organic lunch at Carling’s farm

Carling acts as tour guide

PBAZ and LAKAS leaders with new friends

Tay Ben recalls the early years of struggle

Our visitors pose with organic upo and squash

Carling as tour guide

PBAZ and LAKAS leaders with Bangladeshi visitorsTay Ben and YalungCarling with our Bangladeshi visitorsPosing with organic upo and squash

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