It all started on May 4 when the Municipality of Tublay, Benguet asked for the assistance of Bantay Kalikasan (BK) to connect them to buyers and move their vegetable and flower products to Manila. 

The agricultural industry took a bad hit due to the COVID-19 crisis. The highland province of Benguet, known as the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines” for its huge production of vegetables, is undoubtedly affected. Thousands of kilos of vegetables and flowers, as well as the farmers’ hard work, may all go to waste if they won’t be sold immediately. 

The Tublay Organic Farming Practitioners Agri Cooperative is one of the partner communities of the ILOVE Foundation of the former ABS-CBN Foundation Chairperson, Ms. Gina Lopez. So without any delay, ABS-CBN Foundation gave their commitment the next day to help sell five tons of vegetables and 1,000 dozens of mixed flowers in Manila.

By May 7, everyone got to work. Vegetables were packed and flowers were sorted. Bundles of produce were ready to be shipped and sold to eager buyers in Metro Manila. People could avail of five kilos of mixed vegetables plus one dozen of mixed flowers for a donation of Php500.00.

Through this initiative, donors can help the Tublay farmers and also be part of the environmental advocacy of Bantay Kalikasan, including the protection and management of the La Mesa Watershed and the La Mesa Ecopark.

“When it comes from a place that is genuine and pure, the universe will provide for all the elements to make your desires for good to come true,” said Jen Santos, Bantay Kalikasan Program Director. 

“While collaborating on (the) deployment to support frontliners, we committed to partner with our community to move out their produce. Then shortly after releasing the (announcement) for this, a donor committed to give 100 dozens of flowers for medical frontliners and 100 5-kilogram vegetable packs for those within the nearby community of La Mesa. All these elements came together in a matter of days. It happened only with God, whose wisdom and power are infinite.”

Along with the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which ABS-CBN Foundation distributes to medical frontliners, they also handed flowers to doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers, in time for the Health Workers’ Day and Mother’s Day.

“Alam po namin ang hirap na pinagdadaanan at kinakaharap n’yo (Tublay farmers) ngayong panahon na ito,” said Santos. “Gusto lang po namin ipaalam sa inyo na ang inyong mga inalagaan ay naghatid ng saya sa mga magigiting nating frontliners. From heroes to heroes!”

Due to the overwhelming support and acceptance of this initiative, the need to protect and enrich the environment and the undeniable need of local farmers for support due to COVID-19, Bantay Kalikasan is getting ready for the next schedule.

“I was also taught that with great faith, we must make it flow into action,” shared Santos. “And that, my dear friends, is what ABS-CBN and the Kapamilya spirit is all about.”