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Field Trip

February 17, 2013

By Laura Marie Piotrowicz

I have always loved an adventure. Field trips were a Favourite part of school, even now I usually find a way to add some adventure to my life in the form of new experiences.
Today definitely qualifies as an adventurous field trip! And, quite literally, a trip to the fields. Last night Elsa and I flew to the city of Cebu with Tata Catarata, the executive director of FARDEC (Farmers Development Centre) and the coordinator for the PWRDF Visayas Cluster.
After a very short night we headed to the pier where we caught a long, skinny fastboat to the island of Bohol and were driven to the community in Trinidad. There we were welcomed by the Trinidad Talibon Integrated Farmers Association, and spent a lovely time learning about the history of these folks who have, over many years (over 20 in partnership with PWRDF), established effective means  to maintain their land and come together as community.
The Association has had its challenges, experiencing injustices such as extra-judicial killings and military harassment. But they have also enjoyed successes, like government involvement in building their elementary school, the establishment of a rice mill where their grain is bought at fair prices to (and through) FARDEC, leadership development plans, individual land use and communal farms. We chatted about common concerns like urban sprawl and loss of farmland  and the dangers of chemical use; we shared common farming realities like cows getting loose (which one did!) and which manure makes the best fertilizer; we exchanged best practices for common problems like preventing pests from eating crops and how to speed up compost heaps. We even joked, during a trek in the field, about how cow pats are the same no matter where in the world we are. We had a feast of their home grown foods, and were serenaded by an extremely eloquent and animated young boy before we had to depart.
Our afternoon journey took us through some lush vegetation, along the river and through the touristy Loboc Forest, past the Chocolate Hills, and into the city of Tagbilaran. Here we were surprised to walk into a celebration designed for us! The Bohol People’s Art Development Centre had prepared an extensive programme for us to highlight some of the beauty of the area alongside the human rights and environmental concerns, some ongoing campaigns and some recent successes. The youth presented their passion for peace and justice as they depicted local realities through dance and song. Our programme concluded with our singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ together, standing in a circle with arms linked.  We then feasted again, breaking bread with our new friends.
And then our field trip came to an end for the day. We opted for an early(ish) night as our day tomorrow will be even longer than today – it promises more adventures, however, as we continue to meet with PWRDF partners, try new things, travel well off the beaten path, and generally celebrate that together we are working for a truly just, healthy, and peaceful world.

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