TVIRD rolls out livelihood program prior to mining operationsJune 9, 2021
BAYOG, Zamboanga del Sur – A mining firm has rolled out a livelihood program ahead of its mining operations to “help the community.”
“Multiply the bread and help the community, so everyone will benefit from our project.” said Khalil Pope Tabernero during the graduation rites of some 38 Subanen participants under the Good Agricultural Practices Training of Trainers Program.
The program, according to Tabernero, gears towards the tribal community’s Abaca Project. Tabernero heads the Community Relations Office (CRO) of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) at Sitio Balabag, Bayog Municipality, Zamboanga del Sur.
He represented the company in the activity spearheaded by Timuays (Chieftains) Lucenio Manda and Casiano Edal of the Piksalabukan Gukom Di Bayog – an organization of Subanens of this town.
Tabernero said the training provided participants the scientific guidance in producing quality Abaca fiber. The training aims to enhance their competitiveness in the local and international markets.
It also provided them tips on crop protection, pest control and natural protection against diseases, effectively enhancing their inherited livelihood and transforming it into sustainable agriculture.
To date, TVIRD had distributed 5,000 Abaca seedlings to farmers in Barangay Depore as part of the company’s Social Development Management Program (SDMP).
He said the community has to “multiply the bread,” referring to the royalties that the tribe will earn from TVIRD’s upcoming gold and silver mining operations.
With their training, their Abaca Project has the potential to succeed since it will now have funds for production.
He also advised them to spend their royalties prudently.
“The goal is for the tribe to achieve economic independence since mining is not permanent,” he added.
On his part, Timuay Manda understands that mining is not forever.
He said they will spend their earnings from mining according to the Community Royalty Development Plan (CRDP).
“We will see to it that the opportunity given to us will not be wasted,” Manda declared.
“It is always a comfort that we have the backing of TVIRD who understands our needs,” he said.
When asked why they opted for this particular maiden project, Timuay Manda said the Abaca can sustain their future and the next generation can benefit from it.
He explained that Abaca is suitable to the type of soil and terrain of Bayog town.
“It can be harvested in two years and the price is good. What is needed is our interest and diligence to plant,” according to him.
Manda also said the tribe will soon create the Indigenous People Social Enterprise. This enterprise, he explained, will purchase the Abaca fiber that the planters will produce in order to maximize their earnings.
“Walay middlemen nga makapahimulos kanamo tungod kay kami ang mamalit ug kami usab ang mangita ug merkado para sa among lanot. (There will be no middlemen who will take advantage of us because we will buy and sell our products to the market of our choice).”
According to the Philippine Fiber Industry of the Philippines (PHILFIDA), the country is the largest global producer of Abaca fiber.
Philippines supplies about 87 percent of the world’s requirements for the production of cordage and specialty papers for currency notes, stencil paper, teabags, coffee filters, furniture and fixtures, textiles, cosmetics and skin care products, to name a few.
Abaca industry helps boost the local economy with an average of P4.7 billion annual export earnings.
Manda is hopeful that the project will give them the opportunity to gain economic independence.
Harmony and inclusion
The Subanens’ ancestral land covers 28,000 hectares across 22 barangays of Bayog town.
“In our plan, non-tribal communities in our area who are interested to join the project are very much welcome. We do not want them to feel discriminated – a feeling prevalent among indigenous people all over the country,” he added.
“With their inclusion, there will be harmony in the community,” Manda concluded.
PHOTO. Marvin Edal, grandson of Timuay Casiano Edal, inspects Abaca fiber . Demand for the product is high as it earns the country some Php4.7 billion in average annual exports. (TVIRD photo)