Filipina ‘food heroes’

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By Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

Speaking Out

Sunday, March 17, 2013

IN CELEBRATION of International Women’s Month, humanitarian and development organization Oxfam has come up with a list of 10 extraordinary Filipina “Food Heroes.”

“Unknown to many, feeding the country -- and 93 million Filipinos -- also falls on the shoulders of women,” said Joseph Edward Alegado, Oxfam in the Philippines media and communications officer.

Filipino women, in fact, work longer hours, because aside from planting, harvesting, and fishing, they also carry out household chores. Sadly, their work remains unheralded.


“Food Heroes pays tribute to Filipino women farmers and fishers who brave sun and rain, low pay and back-breaking work to bring food to our table and buoy up our economy,” Alegado added.

By way of a tribute to these remarkable women, I will be featuring Oxfam’s “Food Heroes” in this week and next week’s columns to show how valuable rural women food producers are to the entire Filipino food system.

Trinidad “Trining” Domingo, Organic Rice Farmer, Nueva Ecija

* Ka Trining has spent half of her life planting and growing rice, corn, vegetables, and root crops. Her deep bond with every square inch of their land has inspired her to lead the struggle for agrarian reform and women’s rights. Being the president of the National Congress for Rural Women, Ka Trining has managed to continue tilling her two-hectare rice farm and has maintained her self-reliant household with various backyard vegetable crops, poultry and fruit trees.

Rebecca “Becca” Miranda, Farmer and Community Development Worker, Nueva Ecija

* As the head of the national federation of rural women and an advocate of organic farming, Ka Becca has seen the benefits of chemical-free farming as an ethical business practice. In 2012, with the support of Oxfam, she participated in the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) International Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. Women like Ka Becca have indeed gone a long way in improving their status in society.

Rosario ‘Sario’ Mendoza, Fisher, Naic, Cavite

* Ka Sario’ is the chair of NAMAMANGKA, which promotes the recognition of women as farmers. Together with her husband Raffy and their seven children, they have sustained their lives making money out of fishing. Everyone in the family pitches in from the preparation of fishing implements to fishing to selling. As chair of the women’s group NAMAMANGKA, Ka Sario has led the organization in managing a micro-enterprise in sardines-making, conducting leadership trainings for women, and in responding to cases of domestic violence and abuse.

Ligaya ‘Laling’Oria, Onion Famer, San Jose, Nueva Ecija

* Ligaya “Ka Laling” Oria started organic farming in 1990. As a widow, she raised her six daughters on her own through onion farming. In completing the course on ecological farming, she was able to experiment for nine (9) cropping seasons which enabled her to make decisions on what farming technologies to adapt. She believes that organic farming enhances soil’s fertility. For Ka Laling, the most important lesson she learned as a woman farmer, it is this: “yakapin ang buhay sa komunidad ng buhay, sa komunidad (to embrace life in the community).”

Nita Oigoan, Vegetable Farmer, Macabud, Rizal

* Nanay Nita Oigoan belongs to a community of small vegetable farmers fighting to keep the land they have been tilling for decades in Macabud, Rizal. A real estate developer has since laid claim on the land, challenging the community’s ownership. She continues to till her six-hectare farm planted with mangoes, kaimito (star apple), ampalaya (bitter gourd), mango (mung beans), sitaw (string beans), kalabasa (squash), and other fruit trees, with her children. Nanay Nita is also an active member of Samahang Magsasaka ng 53 Ektarya, a local farmers’ organization fighting for land rights.

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