UNLESS left in the mouths of babes, we may never fully appreciate the roles of food and language to our survival and being.

That realization emanated from a discussion arising from a situation we could not help but ponder and make fun of instead.

There are several special development projects implemented in the Philippines and Cordillera with their similarities and differences of course.

After listening to our stories on the differences of CHARMP2 and the other special development projects, one man shared us this story.

Speaking of differences, it is insightful even fun listening to children in their sessions talking about CHARMP2 and the projects implemented in their communities, he said. This is the story he told us.

Having played and cheered their spiders duel each other like gladiators to death, several boys who gathered under the mango tree beside my house talked about the benefits of new projects implemented in their parents’ villages, he said.

One of those boys, he continued, informed his friends that PRDP cemented the road going to their barrio with funds coming from the World Bank. 

Impressed, his companions asked, “that is great, but what is PRDP?” Ay di gobierno, ((It’s government) Philippine Rural Development Program ngarud (you know), the boy responded as he spelling out the acronyms of the Project.

Another boy shared a road project in the village where they came from. The one-lane road was built by a foreign construction firm, the boy said, that also engaged in treasure hunting. The boy heard the treasure-hunting story from old folk that seems to have impressed the other boys. They spent a great deal of time talking about imagined caves, rocks and rivers where treasures lie hidden.

The stories of the boys gathered covered projects on health, environment, education, and other rural development goals until they asked the last boy, who was quite and listening all the time.

The boy narrated that in his village, the local folk cemented their footpath, constructed footbridges, taught livelihood projects, and reforested the watershed with CHARMP2 funds provided by IFAD. This time, his friends asked him what CHARMP2 and IFAD meant.

The boy thought for a while and said: “The 2 at the end of CHARM refers to the government and the village folks working together and charming each other. IFAD means, “Igorot Fund for Agricultural Development.”

The boy may have missed the exact words and meaning for CHARMP2 (Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management Project) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), but who can say the boy did not get the essence of CHARMP2’s operation in the Cordillera villages is, the man asked.

After humoring us, our friend inspired us further with this conclusion.

ST Microelectronics is an Italian firm and one of the world’s leaders in the production of quality microchips. At a critical time when this firm was expanding, its executives took a pay cut in favor of the company’s long-term growth and profitability. They sacrificed their salary benefit for all employees in the company, like some form of equity and reward, for their accomplishments together so far. 

“You complain about salaries and doing a lot of unappreciated work, but what you are doing is also a form of sacrifice so you can serve and make good your commitment with the Project’s constituents with all the employees intact and not severed from the Project.

Yes, you hired more people to make government and the Project visible in the boondocks and coverage areas of the CHARMP2 that are yet inaccessible by roads and communication. You gave your beneficiaries their voice. They expressed gratitude to what the Project is doing so that they can do something to develop their locales with funding support from the IFAD. That fund, is what the boy proudly calls Igorot fund, because it was dedicated to develop their communities as the local folks see fit.

There are many projects now and funding support, but we knew no other project and funding better than how CHARMP2 and IFAD made rural development work with and for the Cordillera villages.”

 That may be subjective and a bias conclusion on my part, but if you are wondering about my source you will just trust me. I will have to hide him under “the writer’s prerogative and privilege.” He is not a native, but his expert’s heart and mind, has engaged the evolution of rural and natural resource management in the Cordillera since the 70s.

Food sustains life when given in different and appropriate forms, depending on the age and condition of any living being. Unless managed well by his parents, food in its essence and form can be poison for babes growing up.

Syllabic language in its sweetest and caring forms is understandable even acceptable between parents and babes. Syllabic language between adults is foolish.

Rural development in the Cordillera has gone several stages, and we can now appreciate which template is best suited to our situation, even if there are so many development projects now coming in. The first problem is do we see and understand our development problems?  The second problem is do planners and policy makers know enough to care to manage rural and natural resources to its desired ends to serve human goals with equity and not taking everything now for their personal gains and benefits?  

Both questions beg continuity and sustainability of best development practices developed and invested for, all these years, not waste these with methods, processes and activities depending on whims and how new minds and powers would pursue development on their own and times for and with our peoples in this mountain region.