PHOTO: Members of the Rural Workers Association of San Rafael raise their first ever harvest.

BULUSAN, SORSOGON –  The Rural Workers Association of San Rafael (RWASR) has a simple message for fellow Filipinos: “Walang unos na di kayang lampasan basta tulong-tulong tayo. Gawin nating inspirasyon ang mga problema. Di tayo pababayaan ng Diyos, patuloy lang tayong magtiwala sa Kanya.” 

(There is no problem we cannot overcome, so long as we continue to work together. Let us find inspiration in problems. God will not let us down, let us continue to trust in Him.)

Over a week after the Philippine government has ordered a Luzon-wide lockdown to help battle the rapid spread of COVID-19, many families were left problematic on how to make ends meet. The implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) meant that the country's daily wage earners had to find alternative means to put food on their table.

Rising to the challenge, this community-led organization based in Barangay San Rafael, Bulusan, Sorsogon was quick to respond to their members' needs. Recognizing that the ECQ may last longer than most expect, they launched a backyard farming program to ensure a sustainable food supply by providing vegetable seeds to families in their area. 

Alona E. Galvez, Secretary of RWASR said: “Mainam po na may pangdugtong sa bigay nila [the LGU]. Daghanun po an indadanunan, maski papaano, may pagkukunan po kami, na kahit papaano hindi kami magugutom.”

(It is better to have something in addition to what the LGU is giving. They are helping so many families, at the very least we would have a source of food and will not go hungry.)

They have distributed cucumber, okra, and kangkong seeds which families may harvest in one to three months.  Meanwhile, RWASR continues to care for their community garden to ensure that fresh produce is available to the residents of Bulusan.

They hope that their initiative is seen as an opportunity to bond with their families and teach children the importance of vegetables to stay healthy, in order to battle viruses such as COVID-19.

RWASR President, Lea B. Forgalidad, said that the organization continues to draw inspiration from the late Gina Lopez: 

“Salamatonon kay Ma’am Gina Lopez. Siya po an ilaw mi gabay sa pagpapaliwanag san amo dalan pakadto sa pag unhan.” 

(Thank you to Ma’am Gina Lopez.  She continues to serve as our light, guiding us towards our dreams.)

The Nasipit Eco-Agri Farm of the Rural Workers Association of San Rafael is a joint project between the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc., the Municipality of Bulusan, and Aggrupation Of Advocates For Environmental Protection (Agap) Bulusan, Inc.