10-13 September 2019. Sihaya Ansibod, our Director of Field Operations, invited me to travel with her team. First, we met with our partners among the Erumanen Ne Menuvu tribe on Mt. Agkir-Agkir. Then we visited the Iranun coffee farmers in Alamada who invited us to market their coffee. Afterwards, we responded to an invitation of a Maguindanao farming community who envisions to develop a Robusta coffee plantation near Ligawasan Marshlands. Finally, we sealed our partnership with the Obo Bagobo coffee farmers in Ilomavis at the foot of Mt. Apo.
11 September 2019. It was one of the most meaningful days of my field visits this quarter. I met Datu Ayunan Barat, a traditional leader among the Erumanen Ne Menuvu community on Mt. Agkir-Agkir. Our Central Mindanao Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Facilitating Team — Sihaya, Wanay, and Seah — have been training the Indigenous People of Mt. Agkir-Agkir in PAR-framed coffee growing for the past 6 months.
Going up there was a challenge. Our team hired motorcycles and expert drivers going up to 970 meter above sea level. It was raining and the dirt road was slippery. We were welcomed by the community in the midst of heavy rains. After a few hours, the sun came out and we started hiking further up to the house of Datu Ayunan where we held a meeting with the community of coffee farmers.
The relationship between the traditional leaders of the Erumanan Ne Menuvu and our PBCI-CFP family were affirmed and we started dreaming together. In the next few months, our coffee farming facilitators will continue journeying with this tribe until we develop a viable coffee growing industry in the next three years.
12 September 2019. It was great to be welcomed by Maria Fe Beatingo (wearing blue raincoat) — a Christian coffee farmer in Barangay Dado, Municipality of Alamada, North Cotabato Province. She has been the key participant in a series of Coffee Farming Management and Post-Harvest Processing seminar facilitated by Sihaya, Wanay, and Seah for the past 6 months. Maria Fe works with our team in building bridges of peace and reconciliation (PAR) between the Iranun and Ilonggo farmers in Alamada.
Afterwards, we had lunch and coffee together, dreaming and envisioning a progressive coffee industry in North Cotabato where Erumanen Ne Menuvu, Maguindanao, Ilonggo, Iranun, and other peoples work together towards inclusive development — from the ground up.
The morning of 13 September 2019 . I’m inspired by the family of Seah Olimpain — her father, mother, uncle, and two Islamic religious leaders. Olimpain family invited our team to visit their farm in Dungguan, Aleosan. There, Sihaya, Wanay, and Seah looked at the soil and the prepared seedbed for the coming Robusta seeds. We spent time dreaming together with this family. They are planning on using some of their lands for coffee farming — envisioning an inclusive development in their community.
We see the Olimpain’s farm as a future coffee growing and processing model among the new barangays around Ligawasan Marsh who voted to be a part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In Shaa Allah, we hope to see more ‘farmerpreneurs’ (farmer entrepreneurs) among the Bangsamoro families around Ligawasan.
The Olimpain family accompanied us in going up to Mt. Agkir-Agkir the other day and in travelling to Alamada town, through the heavy rains, yesterday. The Olimpains are from Dungguan, Aleosan and are devoted Muslims.
The afternoon of 13 September 2019. We met with our partners among the Obo Manobo community in Ilomavis, at the foot of Mount Apo.
Several months ago, they sent their coffee farmers to the PeaceBuilders Inclusive Development Training Center in Managa, Bansalan.
Now, we see them starting their social entrepreneurial initiatives through coffee. They have invited us to walk with them in this endeavor. Sihaya Ansibod, Director of Field Operations at PeaceBuilders Community, is spearheading this project in partnership with the corporate social responsibility team of Energy Development Corporation. She hired a new field worker, Beverly Costar Cariño, who will be our ground person in Ilomavis.
2019 is Sihaya’s first year serving as Director of Field Operations. In her humble and soft-spoken ways, she’s able to earn the respect of the leaders of the Indigenous People, of community-based organizations, of local government officials, and of religious leaders.
I’m confident that a young peace and reconciliation facilitator in the person of Sihaya — who is herself a member of the Erumanen Ne Menuvu Indigenous People — would significantly help bring about a sustainable, inclusive, and regenerative development in Mindanao. She is, indeed, solidifying our inclusive development network in this land.