Dear CSA Members,
We begin month four of this quarantine. In farmer terms, it’s enough time for a whole cropping to have been sown and harvested such as cabbage, rice, french beans. If there is anything that this pandemic has sown for us, it’s been a hyper-awareness of people’s health and welfare. Are our farmers OK? Are our drivers OK? Are (you) our dear members OK? Without the social amelioration, how were our most vulnerable going to feed themselves?
So how is everyone? Our farmers in Bauko say they are grateful for the continued livelihood despite all our challenges (telco signal, not the least!). They say we are the only organic marketing channel that operates in their area right now. From Capas we see photos of well-tended gardens and more neighbors wanting to produce their own food. Our partners in Bulacan are steadily harvesting fruit and we’re collectively learning how to package and handle the pineapples and papayas. While KMP’s jeep Suhay remains detained, we’ve found alternative transport to continue delivering the landless farmers’ harvest of saba and puso ng saging to community kitchens among the urban poor in Payatas, Quezon City.
Merlita Casas, one of the community leaders in the Payatas communities that we help through Lingap Maralita, shares the life-changing power of solidarity.
“Napakalaking tulong ng kusinang bayan para sa komunidad dahil karamihan po sa amin ay walang hanapbuhay. Sa tulong ng Lingap Maralita, nababawasan ang gastos namin. Nakakatulong ang Lingap Maralita sa aming organisasyon dahil sa pamamagitan ng kusinang bayan ay lalong lumalalim ang aming samahan at dumami po ang mga bagong myembro at mga gustong magpa-myembro. Kami ay bahagi ng Lingap Maralita dahil aktibo kaming gumagampan ng iba’t ibang papel gaya ng paghahanda, pagluluto at pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga naninirahan sa komunidad.”
A blessing amidst this pandemic, Kuya Raymundo has been driving back and forth (over 15 hours weekly) to pick up the produce and deliver it securely to us. As of last week, he’s also been able to return sacks and precious cardboard boxes to our farmers for reuse. We’ve so appreciated his professionalism, immediate photoframed updates and general pagmamalasakit for the work. Ate Connie, Kuya Ramadon, Kuya Ronaldo, Kuya Epot, Kuya Ramon, Kuya Leonides and Kuya Christopher are all healthy and safe (and happy to receive your tampipis).
Ate Celia and Kuya Luis are still sheltering-in-place. Everytime Ernest calls, Ate says tumataba na sya and wishes the same of Joy, Singkit Cara, Madam Char. They look forward to Gio’s visits where he hands over their salary, some gulay and receives words of wisdom in return totally grounded in her reality.
Good health is a gift. In June, when we got more bearings on this “new normal”, I’m-fine-alone Joyce asked, “How can we be community to each other? How can we take care of each other?”
Just kidding. Kinda.
We threw ourselves to live the question with love and creativity. We decided tampipis exemplified the handmade care every gulay goes through so we brought them back with extra steps of disinfecting and tagging. Cara has been gifting random (pero may sense naman daw) CSA members with gifts to show our love and appreciation. We created a viber bulletin board to share with you realtime updates and a chance to reach out to any particular team member for support. Mabi and Gio have spent hours working on this beautiful video to share about the principles that guide our work and to put faces and voices to your food. And Joyce has been populating the gulay index with recipes and storage tips! Do you feel the love? As for ourselves, we’ve been gifting ourselves with gulay pambahay ayuda and taking turns preparing and sharing food. Every meal we remember what a gift our good health is, and how we are given to each other to sustain and care for each other.
Dreaming again. In the midst of so much darkness, our health is sustained by hope. These difficult times have clarified so much about who we are and why we exist. At the end of the day, we want every Filipino fed. Every single one. And we believe it’s gonna take way more than relief. May each meal nourish the dream of justice and strengthen us to act with courage and compassion.
Peace, love & Patola,
Ernest, Mabi, Cara, Gio, Joyce, Ate Celia, Kuya Luis and Char