We met KAISAHAN in 2017 through MARO Mario Lagahit. In the same year, we attended the paralegal training in CICM. Since then, we are closely coordinating with KAISAHAN when it comes to our land rights issues.

I realized through the training that being too aggressive is not helpful to us in processing our claims, so I kept on explaining to my members that we should be conforming with the process, and we should follow KAISAHAN's advice. KAISAHAN told us to avoid using force in dealing with our issues because everything can be resolved with proper dialogue and through a legal process.

We were able to enter the land in 2018, and we believe that not being aggressive has played a part in us being installed. We've already harvested sugarcane two times since then. Right now, we are still waiting for the CLOA for an 11-hectare land. Once we get the CLOA, all our members will be considered landed.

The members are so much happier now that we have our land. We used the income from the farm to buy food, pay our debts, and as an additional association fund. The association used it to purchase farm equipment. We bought carabaos. We also bought welding machine and compressor that our association could use to save and generate more fund. We're planning to build a small shop for this.

I'm really happy about our situation right now.  My decision to leave my work before to focus on our claim was all worth it. I used to work as a tractor driver in a hacienda. But ever since we started processing our land claims and had to attend trainings, I left my job. I decided to leave because I wanted to focus on claiming our own land for my fellow farmers. My dream is for us to at least have a taste of what it's like to own a land. Our income from farm work was really not enough. We earn Php 295 per day. That's 8 hours.

I also did it for my family. I'm getting old and I want to leave something for them. If we have a land, they can continue cultivating it as a regular source of income.

Now, I can really tell the difference between being a farm worker and an installed ARB. If you have you own land, your time is in your control. You can go home and rest whenever you want. It is so much different compared to when you have a boss. There was a time when I was already resting at home, and I was asked to return to the farm to do more work. I had no other choice but go. Now, I can work on my farm for only 4 hours, instead of 8 like when I was still a farmworker. I have more time with the family, and I can help with the household chores.

We really had a better life now.

Our association started to plant vegetables in preparation for Tiempos Muertos. We also have enough fund to support our activities. Now we continuously consult with KAISAHAN with the cases filed by the former land lords. We are really thankful for KAISAHAN's assistance. They were not like the previous NGO who assisted us, because KAISAHAN never asked us for money or a portion of our income. They really helped our association to be better. //


Words by:

Victor Paguntalan
Chairperson, HABAFAWA
Negros Occidental