03 November 2016, Barangay Managa, Municipality of Bansalan, Province of Davao del Sur — The Barangay Tribal Council here invited PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) to facilitate a one day seminar and workshop on Conflict Transformation framed on Peace and Reconciliation principles and practice.
It was a year ago when PBCI was first invited by this council for a listening consultation between the Bagobo-Tagabawa Tribe, the Balutakay Coffee Farmers Association (BaCoFA), and Coffee For Peace (CFP).
The highlight of that meeting was the session when each of the representatives of the Bagobo-Tagabawa tribal communities were given time to express their dreams and aspirations:
- They want their tribe to be united, especially regarding the future of their younger generations.
- They want to revitalize their tribal culture: “The Bagobo culture is already vanishing because of cross-cultural marriages; the traditions and customs of our tribe are not being passed on to the next generation.”
- They want to have control on their livelihood and to determine their own development: “Only 75% of the population in our place have sources of income.”
- They want a quality education that preserves and respects their tribal identity and culture: “We suffer the social and economic limitations in sending our children to school especially in the secondary and tertiary levels; the current education system does not include teaching our children regarding the traditions of our tribe.”
- They want quality health-care system: “Some people in our tribal communities have limited access to the health care facilities of the government. The Barangay facilitates the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), but the people needs a more adequate health care facilities.”
PBCI offered its inclusive development capacity-building ministry through some of its consultants who offered their time and talents based on the expressed needs of our partner communities. PBCI sent Jobelyn Basas, a Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) community organizer, to spearhead the establishment of Managa PAR Community and to coordinate the consulting services rendered to this budding PAR Community. A major outcome of PBCI’s consulting process is the construction of a post-harvest processing plant for coffee and cacao at the foot of Mt. Apo that would help provide sustainable livelihood for the Bagobo-Tagabawa communities. This plant would buy the green coffee products of the BaCoFA—a Migrant community living and farming at 1,000 meters above sea level at Mt. Apo.
MT. APO AND MARTIAL LAW
During the Martial Law years, some powerful Marcos cronies took control of Mt. Apo and started logging operations in this area, among other environmentally-destructive activities. Those cronies brought Christian migrants who worked for them at exploited labor wages. Those logging operations contributed greatly to the denudation of Mt. Apo and have displaced various Bagobo tribal communities. Many of those tribal families were pushed downhill, like the Bagobo-Tagabawa, who settled in Barangay Managa, Municipality of Bansalan. After the logging operations, the cronies — who enriched themselves and became part of the political dynasties — left the migrant workers on the denuded parts of Mt. Apo. Those abandoned workers started planting vegetables and coffee and then established communities like Purok Pluto, Barangay Balutakay, in Bansalan town.
These historical circumstances and displacement brought conflict between Christian farmers uphill and the Bagobo-Tagabawa tribal communities downhill.
In 2013, the Kapwa Upliftment Foundation, Inc. and the Catholic Relief Services Philippines invited PBCI and CFP to work with them in the area of coffee post-harvest processing and inclusive development. PBCI sent a team to start our involvement through a series of PAR seminars and workshop led by Twinkle Bautista. That sparked a series of inclusive development initiatives until BaCoFA became known to other coffee industry players and was able to process, package, and market their products.
In order to expand production and the socio-economic impact of coffee industry in this area, we constructed the PeaceBuilders Community Post-Harvest Processing Plant among the Bagobo-Tagabawa community in Managa. This plant would contribute greatly to world-class quality processing of coffee in this area and will be the direct socio-economic link between the Migrants uphill and the tribal communities downhill.
Now, PBCI is invited once again by the Barangay Tribal Council of Managa to journey with them as they develop a deeper peace and reconciling relationship with the larger migrant communities around Mt. Apo, starting with the BaCoFA and the larger migrant communities who are now living in their ancestral domain.