This is a new phase in our work as justice-based peacebuilders and inclusive development workers here in Mindanao. We are working with the University of the Philippines – Mindanao (UP Mindanao) and with the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) to further develop our capacity to preserve, systematize, teach, and share what we have been learning in the area of peacebuilding, inclusive development, and social entrepreneurship – all framed in justice-based Peace and Reconciliation Principles.
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.
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.
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.
Two years after the Olimpain family participated in the Coffee Farming and Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) training, the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. Inclusive Development (PBCI IncluDev) Team revisited their farm to follow-up on the development of their coffee plantation.
We have been immersing ourselves among the farmers around Mt. Apo, specifically among certain Bagobo Tagabawa indigenous communities and certain Settlers’ communities. As we listen to the people on the ground, we adjust our inclusive development policies based on the contexts of the communities we serve.
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!
The message of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) is articulated and demonstrated even in the midst of CoViD19 public health crisis in our land. This is particularly made possible by 7 budding women entrepreneurs who are being mentored by the CFP-PBCI Tribe. They are Mary, Sihaya, Annie, Wanay, Mandy, Bennette, and Diane. They are developing their own micro-enterprise and have been marketing their products and experiencing encouraging results.
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