HIGHLAND rice in Abra is cherished for its taste and aroma. I remember how I found out that personally the first time I left the highlands of Bangilo, Malibcong, Abra to study in Tayum, Abra, a lowland municipality of the province. It took several months for me to adapt to the less tasty lowland varieties, even what they classified as first class. The worst of such, many years later, was that one introduced by Los Baños called “miracle rice.” Some said, “Even if I don’t eat anymore.” So it disappeared in a short time in the rice fields of Bangilo.
It is for this reason that the farmers of Bangilo, under the leadership of the present day members of the LGU (local government units), are taking efforts to produce rice locally instead of buying from the lowlands. Even the Ilocano lowlanders themselves value the quality of the traditional highland rice produced in the past in the barrios (now barangays) of Umnap, Buanao and Lat-ey. Incidentally I spent and enjoyed the 2019 New Year’s Eve celebrations in them wearing the BARP (Blessed Association of Retired Persons Foundation) attire.
The households are mostly of farmers who enjoy the traditional way but are now moving towards modernization, like starting to use the “kuliglig” tractor instead of the carabao. The first cropping is known as “ulitay”. Plowing season begins in June and harvest is in December. The second cropping “sawali” starts in January or early February and harvest is in May or June. The LGU officials are encouraging ricefield agriculture in order to discourage the destructive kaingin system. To facilitate matters, the said officials organized the farmers into an association and asked the Department of Agriculture for adequate support.
Their expectation is itemized into eight specifics: 1) Bio-compost Production Center will be established in Paway, Buanao, Malibcong, Abra; 2) Farmer-members will be encouraged to patronize the program; 3) Technology interventions will be provided to the organization, like: training on the production of bio-compost, lakbay-aral and Content Analysis of the bio-compost products; 4) Employment opportunities will be generated; 5) 166 households expected to increase their income; 6) New market for the product will be established; 7) Farmers multi-purpose building will be established; 8) CIS and Flood control will be constructed.
The farmers’ organization will manage the operation of the project. It will take charge in the procurement of materials needed, production of bio-compost and other essential elements and in the marketing of the products. There will be two permanent workers for this project. Other workers will be hired as the need arises.
Here’s to express my appreciation of the way the Bangilo people of Lat-ey, Buanao and Umnap effectively bonded together, as their forefathers exemplified in community affairs, to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the sacerdotal ordination of Fr. Bernard Lomioan Teñeza, S.V.D. even after so short a time to prepare things.
The religio-social affair turned marvelous to the edification of all, residents and visitors. We are sure Fr. Bernard and his family feel the same, and even more, way. Thanks, of course, to the whole Society of the Divine Word for having been supportive of him for the last 25 years.
In addition, greetings and God’s blessings to all my SVD friends. Am still fully SVD in spirit? The quarter-hour prayer has accompanied me all these years. CP # 09562830787