Since October 2017, we have been in communication with the Corporate Social Responsibility Department of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and the Obo Manono Tribal Council for a joint inclusive development project among the Indigenous Peoples in this side of Mt. Apo. Last 06 January 2020, we met together to assess the situation of the farmers after the series of earthquakes. The 10 families unanimously expressed their determination to pursue with coffee ‘farmerpreneurship.’

The meeting started at around 10 o’clock in the morning with free flowing Coffee For Peace and local pastries. Datu Henry Ambas, a representative of MADADMA (Manobo Apao Descendant of Ancestral Domains of Mount Apo), welcomed us — the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) and the Coffee For Peace (CFP) “tribe.” Timuay Jonathan Abel of the Corporate Social Responsibility Department of EDC gave the opening remarks.

Ama Lakan Sumulong and Ina “Lakambini” Joji Pantoja facilitated the first session. That first hour were spent reviewing our accomplishments, discussions, and training activities for the past three months. During the second hour, Ina made a survey of the status of coffee farms among the 10 participating families. We learned that 100% of their farms are still good, safe, and operational according to local, provincial, and national authorities on disaster risk reduction and management.

During lunch, we discussed the on-going relationships between the MADADMA, the EDC, and the PBCI-CFP Tribe especially in the devastation caused by the series of earthquakes in Central Mindanao.

After lunch, we re-arranged the chairs into a circle for a community story-telling, sharing of struggles as families affected by the series of earthquakes, and re-imagining what rehabilitation could be. With Ama Lakan’s interfaith-oriented psycho-spiritual processes, this time also became a circle to share their mental and emotional journey through the effects of earthquakes.

Sihaya Ansibod, Director of Field Operations, facilitated the “What’s Next?” workshop during the last two hours. She divided the participants into two groups asking three basic questions:

  • What are you excited about?
  • What are you worried about?
  • What question would you have?

When she integrated all their responses, here’s what we’ve heard:

  • We’re excited about the fact that the PBCI-CFP Tribe and EDC are willing to partner with us in this coffee social enterprise project;
  • We’re worried about a stronger earthquake might come and cause more damage in our properties and lives;
  • Will there be enough training for us so that our products achieve the quality that the larger market demands? Is there actual market who will buy our quality coffee?

“I’m so excited that the Obo Manobo coffee farming community in Ilomavis and Bagabag have determined to pursue this inclusive development program through coffee entrepreneurship,” Sihaya said. “As an Erumanen ne Menuvu indigenous person,” Sihaya adds, “I feel that my work here at PBCI-CFP Tribe helps in advancing justice and peace.”

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