Empowering Poor in the Philippines


a pending article as background:

Dear Independent Readers,

A resident of Santa Barbara for thirty years, after retiring from a career with the postal service and letter carrier's union as both letter carrier and union representative, I ran for a seat on the Santa Barbara City Council and then, when defeated, set off to do many things that work had prevented.

First I set sail and explored the Channel Islands National Park offshore Santa Barbara. My boat was destroyed when a city certified mooring failed and it went on East Beach. Then I set out in my old truck and made a tour of the natural wonders of the USA and Canada, camping from Glacier National Park to the Natchez Trace Parkway with dozens of forests and parks between. My truck was destroyed when the engine seized on the Needles grade after a seven thousand mile trip.

Finding myself homeless, I set out to assist the homeless from my perspective among them but soon I realized that I wanted to work on something more basic, something fundamental to our future. At that moment I attended a presentation by Father Beltran The catholic priest had been the parish priest for Smokey Mountain, the world's largest dump. CEO, that is Chief Empowerment Optimist, of Veritas Social Empowerment, he spoke of poverty and empowerment in a way that was new to me but that resonated as if I had been thinking about it. His optimism infected me and I volunteered to help him. I was living at the Salvation Army Hospitality House and the need to empower the poor was evident to me. Surrounding me at the "Sally" were many people who had given up on themselves and were immersed in a culture of dependency.

In addition to my experience as a labor, veterans and peace advocate, I had been growing food naturally in my back yard in Santa Barbara for thirty years. Some of the thirty varieties of fruit produced were sold at the first Santa Barbara Farmers Markets. When I shared this with Father Beltran, he saw a place for me in his organization as an agricultural consultant to Veritas. Now I have returned to the Philippines, having visited many years ago with the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Our ship, the USS Ozbourn, had limped into Subic Bay, damaged by enemy rockets and with two shipmates dead. We had Filipinos among the crew, as officer's stewards, and they attended to the bodies of our shipmates. I returned to assist the poor of the islands in becoming self sufficient and productive, thus empowering them and also helping the Philippines become food secure. Currently they are the world's largest importer of rice, something which incurs a huge greenhouse gas footprint.

My experience was in growing fruits in California, largely a desert land. I had no experience with rice but I was involved in permaculture, organic gardening and transition groups and I appealed to them for advice. Through them I learned of a Japanese method called integrated rice duck farming. The classic text on it is "The Power of Duck" by Takao Furuno and I read that in preparation and it is a Philippine version of that, developed by PARFUND on the island of Mindanao that I am spreading (see ).

The method of dispersing integrated rice duck farming methods in the Philippines is as important as the message. The population of the Philippines is about ninety million and ninety percent of them are catholic. The parish priest is at the center of a community in the Philippines. The Vatican has stressed the need to include human development in the teachings as well as the spiritual while decrying the destruction of the earth due to consumerism. The parish priest is on the front line when it comes to instruction in both spiritual and human development. If anyone will be listened to and heeded, it would be him.

Natural farming methods that are more productive while being less destructive to the earth will be modeled or "piloted" by parish priests willing to do so. If they have a good supply of water the integrated rice duck method will be used. In other cases we will build a natural method for their environment with its resources. A primary problem in the Philippines and elsewhere is that the poor have quit farming and moved to the city where they usually fall into that "culture of dependency". Because Veritas will combine natural integrated farming techniques as piloted by parish priests with direct marketing to the poor in urban areas they will provide a real example to the urban poor of the good food, opportunity and empowerment to be had in small farming in rural areas. Veritas combines this with education centers aside from the pilot plots that teach natural farming methods and direct marketing using the internet and cell phones.

We have just affirmed the liklihood of the second Rice Duck Pilot Plot...and it will probably be a joint venture of the SVD order of the Catholic Church and MINAS, the Mindoro Agriculture College: The Parish Priest involved is Father Joseph Situ, the SVD Chaplain of Victoria. The parameters and verification of the alliance on a pilot plot is still being worked out but if they go forth with it on MINAS property, Father Situ will be directly involved and it will be the second demonstration rice paddy that we will assist with "Dollars For Ducklings". The College Vice President took copies of PARFUND's ( Mighty Duck Manual and a copy of "The Power of Duck" by Takao Furuno. She will present the proposal to the President and regents.

So I ask you....what is the solution to hunger that reduces green house gases and gives our descendants a chance?

Rice is the world's primary food and rice farming has become a fossil fuel intensive process with petrochemical inputs and long storage and delivery lines. Integrated rice duck farming (open ) produces food for families and communities where it is needed with no chemicals and little transport necessary. The Catholic Church is the largest and most wide flung network in the Philippines and it is our goal to put models of rice duck farming wherever a priest will host it. This will be the Parish Priest Pilot Project. Surrounding farmers will see the example when they go to church. Here is what you can do:

Father Roberto Sanchez (Betong) has an organic lowland farm with rice paddies on Mindoro Oriental. It is property of the Catholic church, order of the SVD. It is an excellent site for integrated rice duck farming due to an ample and continuous water supply and a walled area with pond and tanks for fish, azolla and ducks when they need to come out of the paddies. He is willing to add ducks to his rice cultivation if we can get the money to buy them. He already had azolla in the tanks but has not integrated it into the paddies yet as he has no ducks. Before we get the ducklings, we must build shelter to keep them safe at night and purchase some net fencing to keep them in their work area. You can donate to Father Betong's work and subsequent Parish Priest Rice Duck Pilots by sending a check marked "Dollars for Ducklings/Parish Priest Pilots" to SVD Missions, 4026 Mt. Abraham Avenue, San Diego, CA 92111, USA

I have met another exceptional priest who is now a member of Veterans For Peace, a former US Navy Chaplain whose father died at Bataan and was awarded the distinguished Service Cross. Father Flynn still lives and works here in the Philippines although he travels frequently to the USA. His realm is the Mangyan people of Midoro and he promotes self sufficiency and self pride for this indigenous people (open the attachment):

His project is the Mangyan project and he may visit the USA and Santa Barbara in the fall. If you know of a speaking opportunity, he is a capable speaker.

You can donate to Father Flynn's work with the Mangyans by sending a check marked "Mangyan Project Fr. Flynn" to SVD Missions, 4026 Mt. Abraham Avenue, San Diego, CA 92111, USA

Yours Truly, Rowland Lane Anderson, PO Box 2036, Manila, Philippines 2800 cell phone 09496936114 Negros Oriental, Philippines (currently)

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