Ina Endena is concerned at the impact of the new rice varieties on Agawa community life. Since the introduction of the biit, the synchronized planting season has been inexistent. During a community holiday for example, the farmers usually break the ubaya or community taboo just to tend their fields for the application of needed fertilizers or pesticides.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
I’ve seen her many times in different occasions involving grassroots organizations – in Mountain Province or in any part of Cordillera and elsewhere. In most of these activities where I had seen her, human rights issues were the main topics in the discussions. She comes from a place that had often been militarized and as a consequence, human rights violations were usually reported.
On the day before the celebration of our paper’s fourth anniversary as a weekly and 17th as a news dispatch, Baket Endena – a leader of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in her native Mountain Province as well as the Innabuyog-GABRIELA – came with a pizza to share with the Nordis staff, who were then busy preparing for the occasion.
This time, my conversation with Ina Endena, as most fondly call her, is focused on agricultural practices in their village in Agawa, Besao in Mountain Province.
I am touched at how she laments that new rice varieties are slowly displacing indigenous varieties. She is saddened at the thought that her community practices are slowly disintegrating due to the introduction of these new varieties into the Cordillera interior.
At first, it is hard to comprehend how the entry of the new varieties has weakened indigenous practices. But she explained with such clarity that I realized that we have to respond to an urgent call from this 82-year-old elder who is still active in grassroots organizing.
Ina Endena described the role of the dap-ay, an indigenous socio-political system where elders gather and talk about the beginning of the agricultural activities.
In end-September, the elders declare three days as ubaya or community holidays. They perform a ritual, observe signs, and if all the indications appear good then they start the rice seedbed preparation in the padog (rice field specifically designated for that purpose). The ubaya also starts the land preparation. Work is done simultaneously in all rice fields. The community residents do the preparation, planting and harvesting in synchrony with the environment. A tradition of thanksgiving is also performed after every harvest.
Outside influences, she says, contribute to the weakening of their indigenous practices. She observed this in what is happening to their indigenous rice varieties called the bayag (literally, a long period of time). These are slowly being set aside, she says.
These varieties include the tupeng, ginolot, yangaw (sticky rice). She observed that those varieties already lost are the sabsaba, kinison and matiko.
These old varieties are being replaced by taiwan, walay (sticky rice) and others called biit (short) as these may be planted twice a year.
She admits that it takes a longer wait to harvest the bayag variety, but she prefers it to the introduced biit because these are raised with just natural fertilizers like sunflower leaves, and a local variety of grasses, among others. She pointed out the biit, though planted twice in a year, need more commercial inputs like fertilizers and pesticides. She observed that these inputs are not only expensive but makes the land barren and therefore, dependent on these agro-chemicals.
Ina Endena is concerned at the impact of the new rice varieties on Agawa community life. She observes that since the introduction of the biit, the synchronized planting season has been inexistent. In the declaration of a community holiday for example, the farmers usually break the ubaya or community taboo just to tend their fields for the application of needed fertilizers or pesticides.
She also observes that indigenous agricultural practices are environment-friendly.
Before our interaction ended with lots of lemon grass tea and brewed coffee that washed the pizza down our throats, I felt the need to heed her recommendations to adopt indigenous systems. After all, these practices have been proven to be cost-effective and environment-friendly by indigenous communities like Agawa in Mountain Province. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat