By REIN TARINAY
I was a lockdown journalist–kind of.
When I started working for Bulatlat, COVID-19 came so I never had the chance to go out and fully immerse with the people. The pandemic wiped my opportunity to learn from the people firsthand. It was difficult. And how do you write for the people when you’re not fully aware of how they live their lives? I don’t know. That was the challenge I had to surpass. That’s why when an opportunity for an out-of-town coverage came, I grabbed it without questions.
We left the city at seven in the morning. At first, it still didn’t feel real that I was outside, riding on a bus and not on my bike–it was not my typical day. Being outside and doing “old normal” things like public transportation still felt new to me. More or less than two hours later, we were in Pandi greeted by the warm, welcoming eyes of women wearing face masks.
Talong, kamatis, mustasa, pechay, sitaw and all other vegetables from bahay kubo welcomed us. Being a city girl who only knew what vegetables look like when they’re cooked, it felt cool to see them as plants still growing, thriving.
We roamed around the agroecology farms tilled and maintained by women. Hearing their happy tone showing off their crops made my heart full.
What the Pandi women taught me
More than the success of growing vegetables and crops, there is a bigger fight that Pandi women and the urban poor community in Bulacan are fighting for. They continue to struggle against discrimination and harassment from state agents and for basic human rights, decency and respect.
It was not even a full day of immersing with them but I already felt like a whole new different person. Whenever I eat vegetables, I would always wonder how hard farmers, tillers work hard for these.
I would always feel grateful for my privilege of being secured in my home, a stable electricity and a peaceful night not thinking about when police agents are gonna come and harass me and my family. Things they would never enjoy as long as Duterte is in power.