24 Mar 2020

A Sustainable Farmer Organization

KAISAHAN’s interventions really improved me as an individual. I didn’t know how to talk with DAR and other government officials before. I see them as “matataas na tao.” I used to think so lowly of myself that speaking with them was a struggle for me. Nahihiya ako. I didn’t know how to approach them.

Until 8 years ago, we were introduced to KAISAHAN, and since then, I have attended a lot of trainings that helped me and my organization in so many ways. I learned about agrarian reform and its processes in the paralegal trainings, and about the value of human rights in Human Rights Defenders Training. The knowledge I gained through these trainings made me more confident in facing officials from DAR. In the past, whenever a MARO talked to me, I usually just listen blankly. I was having a hard time understanding what they were saying. But now, I can now confidently speak with them about our issues and follow up on our claims, because I already know the technicalities of the process.

As a result of the effort, a notice of coverage (NOC) was issued for the landholding in our claims.

I also re-echoed the trainings with my organization, HABENARBA. And it changed their disposition as well. They now have this thinking that the DAR officials were here to attend to our needs and that we should never be afraid of raising our concerns to them.

I also didn’t know how to handle my members before. I easily get mad. But because of the combination of training and experience, I can now handle conflicts well. I now talk to individuals involved in private before addressing the issue with the group.

KAISAHAN also introduced and linked us to various support services providers. Through these linkages, HABENARBA was able to secure an active source of organizational fund. We were able to start a feed dealership business that is now doing pretty well. Of course, there were challenges in the beginning. My husband even gets mad at me for managing HABENARBA’s business for free. But then eventually, he realized the value when it all paid off.

We also received a grant from ALG to finance our case. One of the biggest challenges we had before is that we didn’t have enough organizational fund to finance even our fare to Bacolod City to follow up with DAR.

With KAISAHAN’s interventions, we no longer have to use money from our own pockets to process our claims and cases. We also have a bigasan. HABENARBA also does microfinancing for the members. The financial management training organized by KAISAHAN really helped us a lot in allocating our funds.

KAISAHAN really empowered me and the members of HABENARBA. I know that the members can handle it even if I leave for Samar (for a while). Did you know that our houses were demolished back in 2008 because of our land claims? I believe that if we were already trained and knew what we know now back then, there was actually a high chance that the demolition would not push through. I wish we already knew KAISAHAN back then.

Words by:

Ermalyn Glino
Chairperson, HABENARBA
Negros Occidental


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