By: ROBERT L. DOMOGUEN
It is close to the agency’s heart. That is, IFAD had always held an exclusive focus on the poor and marginalized citizens of the world.
During the conduct of the 4th Knowledge Learning Market and Policy Engagement (KLMPE) and 7th Anniversary of the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management Project, CHARMP2, I heard Mr. Yolando Arban talked about this focus, as Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker during the event.
The CHARMP2 KLMPE is a localized version of the IFAD-Philippines KLMPE implemented prior to the observance of the Project’s anniversary in the middle of November to share knowledge, experiences and best practices generated during project implementation. The CHARMP2 is a major special rural development project of the Philippine government in the Cordillera supported by IFAD and its partner financing institutions.
IFAD’s extensive and focused presence in the Cordillera goes back to more than three decades now supporting development projects by indigenous peoples and their communities on reforestation and watershed development, rural infrastructures, agricultural livelihoods, land tenure and community organization and empowerment.
IFAD has worked closely with the most marginalized IPs in this mountainous region of North Luzon, particularly in the remote and fragile interior communities of the Cordillera to “understand the aspirations and the barriers that the local folks face to getting ahead.
In its engagement with the beneficiaries, IFAD strengthens their capacities and that of their organizations and communities to increase access to assets that others in the country or the world use to improve their lives. In the Cordillera, these are included as part of Project strategies and targets in securing rights to land, water and natural resources; markets for buying and selling products; financial services to save money and to borrow; and technology, research and knowledge to take advantage of opportunities. It has provided guidance to the Project in pursuing these mandate and targets through the conduct of quarterly supervisory missions, besides trainings, workshops, information and education, and yes the KLMPE.
During the 2015 CHARMP2 KLMPE held at the Crown Legacy Hotel, Baguio City, Mr. Arban asked the Cordillera to continue sharing best practices and lessons learned in advancing rural development in support of the nation’s poor and that of the Asia and Pacific region. That sounds like another rural development cliche, but one never knows really unless you get behind to how a person understood an experience and engaged it with passion, just like how legacies are won and continually given life by those who value its relevance and meaning.
The recently concluded 2015 IFAD KLMPE at the BSWM Conference Hall is not just about moving in a direction but knowing the course of IFAD’s development advocacy with certainty. That certainty was hammered into mind by the testimonies of stakeholders who pursued the agreements and action targets made in behalf of the small farmers during the conduct of last year’s KLMPE.
I like the group and the community gathered in this year’s KLMPE to include visitors from Brazil, the nation’s small farmers, and those who continue to suffer from Super Typhoon Yolanda, two years after it battered Leyte and other parts of the Visayas in November 8, 2013. I enjoyed the laughter of our small farmers, and like the rest, I could not hold shedding tears when they shared in this gathering, their continuing battles and struggles with the rich and powerful, and the rulers of the land to get back their land and dignity.
The small farmers and our marginalized brothers and sisters continue to live in fear, hunger and constant pain. During the KLMPE, they clinched their fists out of disappointment with government officials, fellow Filipinos and human beings who continue to betray their promises to them. Would we not suffer too and join hands with them. Instinctively, I had my fists in both hands clinched and raised too. Where they are going, where their fight is, points to where true north is in the quest to make progress and development inclusive, not just some motions in development and the delivery of stale and dead speech.
This is a life-giving gathering among warriors for the downtrodden. More than just a highlight of their commitment and dedication in building partnerships and coalitions that make things happen, they kept the flame of hope burning for the nation’s poor and disadvantaged. Kudos to the following organizations, the abbreviation of their names has but became familiar among us, DAR, DA, PhilDRRA, ANGOC, AsiaDHRRA, Pakisama, NATCCO, AFA, CHARMP2, and the others.
I was heartened watching Mr. Celso Ludwig, of Petraf, Brazil standing and engrossed with the playing of Filipino music and instruments before and after the opening of the 2015 KLMPE Exhibits, as the others simply took a cursory interest and passed him by. Either Mr. Ludwig found some interesting links between the songs and music of the Philippines and Brazil that aroused his interest, or the music spoke life to him.
A thought comes to mind about human beings as salt to the earth. It seems to me the phrase refers to the lives of artists athwart at most. In their quest to achieve meaning, nobody really liked them living their days. When they surrender to conventions, they lost their true quest, which becomes stale, dead. I would rather hold a novel, or a piece of art like a treasure beyond compare. I like to sing a new tune and deliver a thought in their most sublime expression. I must think it comes with a passionate knowing, experiencing and understanding what we have, our legacies and why they continue to give meaning to our existence.
Whether we continue our course by engaging the sciences and arts in the pursuit of actions for the poor until next year’s KLMPE, one sure thing was gained this year. Out of the passion and dedication of stakeholders to push the interest and welfare of the small farm-family, IFAD through Mr. Arban vowed to continue its support to this activity for the next 10 years. IFAD shall also encourage its partners and the government to support its annual conduct and the realization of its policy action recommendations.
Let us steer clear of dead waters, continuing to engage and give value to “the blood, sweat and tears of our disadvantaged fellowmen,” in their daily quest for dignity and progress under just and if not gentle and peaceful skies. -30-