During the final day of the National Indigenous Peoples’ Month, which is celebrated every October, the tribal council of the Bagobo Tagabawa invited us to attend their final ceremonies. We were told that, among several events of the day, “there will be a ceremony to officially include us as members of the tribe.” They actually surprised us by conferring honorary leadership titles along with our ritual membership into the tribal community. For this sacred embrace, we express our deep gratitude to the Indigenous Political Structure, the clans, and the families of the Bagobo Tagabawa people. By the Creator’s grace and mercy, we commit to fulfill the duties and responsibilities implied in this honor.
I heard that the Ayala Corporation is supporting social enterprises by offering free space in their chain of malls throughout the country. Last 19 April 2021, I got a call from one of their representatives inquiring if I was interested in opening a 26-square-meter shop at the Ayala Abreeza Mall in Davao City as part of their Alagang Ayala Land Program. My first reaction was to pray. Then I established my objectives in light of the vision and mission of Coffee for Peace. I presented the plan to our community and to the management team of CFP. Our team recruited new interns and prepared them for this opportunity. Last 16 September 2021, we opened the Coffee for Peace Kiosk at Abreeza.
16-17 September 2021. After the six-month Inclusive Development Training, the Bagobo Tagabawa community in Barangay Binaton, Digos City begins a long-term partnership with the PBCI-CFP Tribe. This partnership involves community-based, culturally contextualized Social Enterprise Development framed in Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) principles and practices. Because 80% of the participants in this program are women, we are giving greater emphasis on indigenous women’s leadership development. We are sharing the aspiration of the Bagobo Tagabawa Indigenous People to realize and enjoy their right to self-determination and to protect their ancestral domain.
Sihaya Ansibod, PBCI-CFP Director of Field Operations, developed the Farm Visitation Program to get first-hand and up-to-date information on the state of our farming partners’ lives, wellness, farming successes, farming challenges, and aspirations. We’re passionate about holistic and inclusive development. We’re very careful not to impose coffee farming if it’s not appropriate in a given social, cultural, or geographical context. We, at PBCI-CFP Tribe, believe that this Farm Visitation Program, an aspect of our on-going Participatory Action Research (PAR) around Mt. Apo, would help us to be true to our philosophy of development — from the ground up.
28-30 July 2021. It’s energizing to reconnect with Rolivel Oliveros Elusfa and his team. He was my colleague in civilian ceasefire monitoring from 2006 to 2012 as part of a peacebuilding network. A few months ago, he contacted me and shared his passion to do peacebuilding and development among the Mandaya Indigenous communities. Now, we’re exploring a wider and deeper view of peacebuilding—where building peace is understood as encompassing a holistic and inclusive process of transformation: spiritual-ethical transformation, psycho-social transformation, socio-political transformation, and economic-ecological transformation.
The Kapeyapaan Farmers Association (KFA) founding leaders in Barangay Alegre, Bansalan are on their 5th month of training. The participants had their coffee cupping and tasting last 16-17 of June 2021 to wrap up their Coffee Quality training. They also had strategic planning for building their association.
The Binaton Bagobo Tagabawa Farmers Livelihood Association (BBTAFLA) in Barangay Binaton, Digos City committed themselves to look at long-term Inclusive Development Program based on their indigenous identity. This sense of ‘who they are’ would determine the production and marketing of their farm products—such as vegetables, coffee, flowers, and handcrafts. They will also share with outsiders their Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices through stories, arts, and native products. In coordination with the government, civil society, and business sectors, they will open their community as a learning center for Indigenous cultural understanding, peacebuilding, and reconciliatory initiatives.
Last 15-16 April 2021, the Binaton Bagobo Tagabawa Farmers Livelihood Association (BBTAFLA) in Binaton, Digos City gathered for their 3rd of six months Inclusive Development and Social Entrepreneurial Training. The following week, 20-21 April 2021, the Kapeyapaan Farmers Association (KFA) in Alegre, Bansalan went through their 4th month on similar training. Both communities focused on becoming farmer-entrepreneurs or ‘farmerpreneurs‘ of quality coffee within the framework of peace and reconciliation principles.
Last week, I delivered my valedictory address in behalf of my online classmates at Ashoka.Org. According to their website, “Ashoka is the first and largest network of leading social innovators in the world. Founded in 1980, Ashoka pioneered and helped establish the field of social entrepreneurship. There are now over 3,500 Ashoka Fellows in 93 countries who are working in all fields—from health and human rights to education and the environment. Since 2013, Ashoka has been electing Ashoka Fellows from the Philippines.”
We’re excited for the wonderful possibilities were facing and at the same time having a ‘feeling of suspense’ because of inherent uncertainties. Before, our journey can be described as trekking through a vast landscape with plenty of landmarks. Now, it’s like navigating through an ocean. No landmarks. We’re charting a new map. But we know our True North. We have our Reliable Compass. We are being moved by the Holy Wind. Uncertain and yet so assured!
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