28-30 June 2022. The Inclusive Development Team of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and Coffee for Peace (PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team) conducted a series of small group consultations and workshop-seminars with our partners from the Obo Manobo Indigenous People’s community and from the Corporate Social Responsibility Department of the Energy Development Corporation (CSR-EDC). These field activities are a part of a five-year Social Entrepreneurial Training Program among pre-qualified Obo Manobo farmers.
During the three-day engagement with our partners in the field, we enjoyed listening, learning, sharing, teaching, analyzing, and planning. The Obo Manobo traditional leaders and key farmers expressed their dreams and aspirations towards an immediate social entrepreneurial program and a long-term inclusive development process.
We’re so blessed to see Sihaya Ansibod, PBCI Director for Field Operations, lead the next generation of field operations staff and volunteers from our partner communities.
In this particular field engagement, the Obo Manobo elders invited our team to train a new batch of budding coffee entrepreneurs among selected farmers in Purok Sudsuhayan, Barangay Ilomavis, Kidapawan, North Cotabato.
It’s also inspiring to be welcomed by the local congregation of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (CaMACoP) who cheerfully welcomed us to use their church facilities as the venue for this series of seminar-workshops.
Our journey with Obo Manobo and CSR-EDC
It all started in 09 October 2017. FirstGen Corporation, the parent company of Energy Development Corporation, invited Sihaya Ansibod and Joji Lakambini to their offices in Makati City, National Capital Region. The purpose was to explore possible partnerships in inclusive community development in Mindanao. During the meeting, it was mentioned that the partnership may be possible in Kidapawan, North Cotabato to serve the Indigenous Peoples around Mount Apo.
Another meeting was held on 29 May 2018 at the office of the Board of Investments in Makati City. PBCI then learned that FirstGen Corporation is “committed to lead the country’s transformation towards a cleaner decarbonized world by meeting the needs of the growing energy market with competitive, efficient and highly profitable energy and power generation assets with the least impact to the environment.”
A field visit in Barangay Ilomavis in Kidapawan was arranged on 26 June 2018. The PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team gave a brief coffee orientation seminar to the farmers. After the field visit, a meeting with an EDC officer was held at the Coffee for Peace shop in Davao City on 15 July to discuss further the possible partnership between our two organizations.
On September 2019, The Obo Manobo Tribal Council, along with the representatives of the CSR-EDC, invited the PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team to conduct a series of training seminars in Inclusive Development, Financial Management, Sustainable Agricultural Enterprise, Quality Coffee Processing, and Coffee Marketing. The participants in this 6-month program were key farmers, forestry specialists, and traditional tribal leaders.
Disrupted by Earthquakes and Pandemic
Between October 2019 and January 2020, a series of earthquakes disrupted these field operations. Along with other communities in Central Mindanao, our activities had to stop indefinitely. All our resources and energies were refocused on emergency relief operations. Then, in January 2020, our partner families met with us. We reorganized ourselves and carried on with our common vision of entrepreneurship and inclusive development.
From March 2020 to the present, this initiative has been slowed down due to lockdowns. PBCI-CFP leadership re-engineered our operations in response to the new normal of the pandemic reality.
The blessing of mutual learning
While our team may have shared some inclusive development concepts and social entrepreneurial skills among the traditional leaders and key farmers here in the Ancestral Lands of the Obo Manobo Indigenous People, they are teaching us to adjust our thinking processes from a linear approach to a circular-spiral way. We, being influenced by North American way of thinking and living, tend to move and act in a linear timeline with log frames. The Obo Manobo Indigenous People thinks, plans, moves, and acts in a spiral way. They describe life and implement projects as a cycle – like the sunrise and the sunset, like the dry and the rainy seasons.
We’re hoping, with the continuous initiative, leadership, and guidance of the Ovu Menovu elders, that a long-term inclusive development, based on their Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP), would happen in their community.