30-31 January 2024. Our CFP-PBCI Inclusive Development (IncluDev) Team hosted the most productive farmers from Lanao del Sur for Coffee Farmer-Entrepreneurial Training. In the morning of the first day, they were brought to the Davao Peace Hub to enhance their skills in practicing and sharing Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Principles; they also had coffee roasting and packaging workshop there. In the afternoon, they were welcomed to the Coffee for Peace Cafe to learn about coffee tasting and aroma appreciation. On the morning of the second day, our staff at the Malipayon Peace Hub facilitated a workshop on post-harvest processing skills; they also presented the coffee beans they brought from their farms which were evaluated by seasoned coffee entrepreneurs.

These budding farmer entrepreneurs (farmerpreneurs) also had motivation and mentorship session with Ms Marivic Dubria, a national champion in quality coffee production and a multi-awarded farmer entrepreneur. Multiplying coffee farmerpreneurs, who are also trained in peacebuilding, is part of the long-term vision of the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) and of the Coffee for Peace (CFP).

The birth of a Peace and Reconciliation Community in Lanao del Sur.

Our relationship with Amai Manabilang Coffee Farmers in the Province of Lanao del Sur started last 06 September 2022. Joji was speaking in a coffee farmers’ forum organized by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Representatives from this group approached Joji and showed the coffee parchment they brought to the forum. The quality of their coffee was satisfactory. To initiate a relationship-building process, Joji and her CFP team bought their coffee. A series of meetings, from acquaintance to listening sessions, to a series of coffee training, to justice-based Peace and Reconciliation processes and training events developed into heart-to-heart partnership.

Together, we have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 22 June 2023 that outlined our cooperative efforts as purchaser and supplier of processed coffee parchment. CFP have committed to buying a minimum of 3,000 kilos of parchment per harvest season at an agreed-upon price. In return, the Lanao coffee farmers ensures the delivery of clean, freshly harvested coffee that meets CFP specifications. Transparency is key in our partnership, and the association agrees to disclose the names of participating farmers on each bag sold to us, enhancing traceability and accountability in our supply chain.

All these coffee farmerpreneurial activities are framed in justice-based Peace and Reconciliation Principles and Practices.

Lanao del Sur has long simmered with the flames of conflict.

Decades of simmering resentment towards the Christian-dominated government boiled over in 1968, fueled by historical grievances and a deep yearning for self-determination. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) ignited the fight for a separate homeland for the Bangsamoro (lit. “Nation of Moors”).

Their struggle resonated with another Moro group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who envisioned an independent Islamic state. Years of clashes, punctuated by fragile peace talks, painted the landscape of Lanao del Sur in hues of hardship and loss. A glimmer of hope arrived in 1996, with the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). But it was a fragile peace, fractured by continued distrust and unfulfilled promises.

Meanwhile, a darker force emerged. In 2017, Marawi City became a battleground, seized by ISIS-linked militants. The ensuing siege, a brutal dance of destruction and displacement, left scars that etched themselves onto the soul of Lanao del Sur.

Yet, amidst the ashes, a chance for genuine peace flickered. The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), signed in 2018, aimed to mend the fractures, granting greater autonomy through the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). But the journey towards true peace remains arduous. Full implementation of the BOL, addressing historical inequalities, and eliminating the allure of extremist groups are formidable hurdles.

A growing partnership with Amai Manabilang farmers.

“Thank you so much Ma’am Joji,” writes Ms Ganih, chairperson of Amai Manabilang Coffee Farmers, “for granting the top six coffee producers from the incredible opportunity to visit Coffee for Peace in Davao City!” She was describing the training provided by PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team. “It was an enriching experience where they learned so much about the art of coffee-making and gained valuable insights into the industry. Your generosity and passion for promoting sustainable coffee truly ignite our love for coffee as well,” Ms Ganih adds. “Thank you, Ma’am Joji, for this amazing opportunity!”

For CFP, this partnership genuinely meets our vision, mission, and values. “We weren’t just eager buyers, but committed mentors, offering training, feedback, and recognition for their exquisite work” Joji said. “Quality standards,” she adds, “became a shared journey, not a barrier, fostering excellence hand-in-hand… Coffee isn’t just our currency; it’s a symbol of unity. We build bridges, not just transacting business deals… We do social entrepreneurial activities through open communication and a shared vision of progress.”

For PBCI, this is another Peace and Reconciliation community. We continue to work and pray that by 31 December 2030, each of our 81 provinces will have a circle of leaders and volunteers called Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Communities!  They would serve as radical transformation agents in their respective families, religious structures, tribal communities, neighbourhoods, barangays, cities or municipalities.

And so, the journey continues. With each cup brewed, a story unfolds — a story of empowerment, community, and the transformative power of a simple bean. The aroma of coffee now carries a whisper of peace, echoing through the valleys of Mindanao, a testament to the unwavering spirit of the coffee heroes and the organizations who believe in their dreams. This is not just a brew, it’s a promise of a better tomorrow, one sip at a time.

By the Creator’s grace, PBCI and CFP will continue to be a twin-organization towards the realization of this vision.

Amai Manabilang used to be called Bumbaran

We’re committed to pray for, and work with, the people of this part of Mindanao. Nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, lay the town of Bumbaran where our farming partners live. Its name, echoing through generations, whispered tales of a bygone era, woven into the fabric of the Meranau epic, Darangen. The legendary city of Magalinday Bembaran, its beauty mirrored in Bumbaran’s rolling hills and verdant valleys, served as the town’s namesake, a testament to its own enchanting charm.

But the winds of change, like the whispers of the Tabanao River that snaked through the town, brought forth a new chapter. In 2019, Mayor James Manabilang, embarked on a mission to honor his own lineage, etched the name of his ancestor, Amai Manabilang, onto the map. Since then, Bumbaran, the town steeped in legend, transformed into Amai Manabilang, forever intertwined with the legacy of the Manabilang clan.

Thus, the tapestry of Bumbaran’s history unfurled. The town’s narrative, whispered on the breeze and echoing in the hearts of its people, became a testament to the ever-evolving story of Mindanao, where the past and present danced hand-in-hand.

We pray that we’ll be a funnel of love, truth, justice, and mercy as we offer ourselves as agents of transformation in Bumbaran, now called Amai Manabilang.

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