Tradition as resistance


BAGUIO CITY — In the remote village of Binasaran in Malibcong, Abra, we will find a community that has survived their every day by keeping close to their traditions. An apparent resistance to costly and damaging commercial farm inputs, they practice organic farming in their village as a way of ensuring food security.

GETTING READY FOR HARVEST SEASON. A farmer checks up on their community’s demo farm. In Binasaran, Malibcong, Abra, they use traditional, organic methods to yield a more bountiful harvest.. Photo courtesy of Levy Mangili

Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services Inc. (CorDisRDS) staff Levy Mangili says even before their group had set foot in Binasaran, the people there are already practicing organic farming. She says it was natural to them, as they have lived in a rural area away from government and big companies.

“The fertilizer is costly and they will have to walk two hours to get some, so use of commercial fertilizers is not appropriate.” Mangili added.

Mangili said that what is noteworthy about Binasaran is that they have grown temperate vegetables in the area. Elsewhere, these vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, sweet peas and Chinese cabbage, are grown using commercial fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides.

“They only need to buy the seeds; the rest is organic.” Mangili said

CorDisRDS was able to help the Binasaran farmers when they requested seeds for their vegetable garden.

The traditional varieties of vegetables are also propagated and sown by the farmers.

They even dedicated their plaza to be the first site of their vegetable garden which they collectively worked on.

With minimal expenses in planting, they would sell the vegetables in nearby municipalities Lacub and Licuan-Baay.

Traditional farming methods are also observed in planting rice. The traditional varieties are planted, in accordance with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a consolidated practice of planting rice which yields more than the usual and makes them more weatherproof.

“We call it Palay Production, because aside from the methods of SRI, we also add methods on organic farm inputs which rely on locally available resources.” Mangili said.

Mangili lists the advantages of organic farming as 1) less expenses 2) maintains the fertility of land and 3) maintains the balance of the ecosystem.

“Even the friendly species are killed by commercial insecticides,” said Mangili.

Mangili even added that the rivers in Binasaran are maintained rich in fishes and shellfish because they do not use chemical-based inputs. Because of this, there is more food available to the farmers.

Binasaran has three sitios – Manapnap, Binasaran Proper and Padpadsek. In these sitios are people’s organizations that serve as centers for the betterment of farming practices and other community matters.

The Manapnap Community Organization, for example, overviews all issues in the community, not just farming. It has committees on women and children, socio-economic matters and disaster preparedness.

Farmers have no choice but to rely on and strengthen their organizations due to government neglect.

“When you go there, you will see that there are no roads, no electricity, the water system is problematic.” said Mangili.

The primary school located in Binasaran proper caters from Grade 1 to 4 in a multigrade system. There are two teachers, each teaching two grades at once. Children from Manapnap will have to walk two hours to get to school. When they reach Grade 5, they have to cross creeks and a rugged footpath for an hour.

Their barangay hall doubles as a health center, housing two barangay health workers who have to tend to the whole community.

Climate change also took a toll on the farmers’ work as agricultural cycles are disturbed. They heavily rely on the rain to irrigate their farms, as no proper irrigation is provided for.

Farming technology still remains backward. Only 5 out of 14 families in Manapnap have a carabao.

As a community neglected by the government, Binasaran shows the whole nation the power of an organized people.

The story of Binasaran only proves that in a time when everything revolves around money, practicing our traditions and relying on our collective strength becomes ever more radical. #


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