“Peace will be when you accept it in your heart.”
That is a quote from an Iroquois warrior, whose tribe are of the fiercest, warlike, and mercilessly brutal people in the old America, according to records.
They are such warriors who violently tortured, “sometimes roasted alive and ate their captives.”
The scene comes alive in the 1400s before Columbus, and is part of the story of the “Tree of Peace” and the “The Great Law of Peace,” which are the stuff of legend and immortalized in Longfellow’s poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.”
The story is but a depiction of humanity’s continuing search for quality and sustainable existence and better relationships with other people under an environment of peace and cooperation.
Trees speak to the soul of human beings. Indigenous peoples (IPs) of the world have their own versions of the “Tree of Peace” and of course, their own stories, expressing their aspirations, journeys, struggles, and accomplishments in securing peace in their domains, and in improving life and the livelihoods of their people. Thus, there are trees in the forest or in their backyards that are considered sacred or that has some deep symbolism and meaning to them as a people.
But this article is not about the intimate connection of people and trees through the ages. I simply made it as an introduction to the production of coffee, while I kept on wondering how it became known today as “a tree of peace.”
The symbolism for coffee is deep. I would really love it if the population of the tree increases to be integrated, not replace our existing trees, or replace crops where they are traditionally planted. Coffee, as we have thus far known, can co-exist well with other crops.
Presently, some 2,365, 492 coffee trees are planted in an area of 2,404 hectares in the Cordillera. Some 4,177 farmers are engaged in coffee production, as reported by the local government units (LGUs), and consolidated by the high-value commercial crops development program of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-CAR.
In terms of production, Kalinga is the major producer of coffee with an annual production of 1, 109,261 kilograms followed by Benguet with 399, 805 kilograms, Apayao, 174,200 kilograms; Mountain Province, 111, 029 kilograms; and, Abra, 32, 939 kilograms. There are no reported production data from Ifugao.
Two varieties of coffee are grown in the Cordillera, particularly Robusta and Arabica. There are plantings of Excelsa and Liberica but these are negligible.
Arabica are grown in Mountain Province with 773, 260 trees planted followed by Kalinga with 179,690 trees and Benguet with 130,338 trees.
Robusta is grown in all provinces of the region. The reported number of bearing trees indicates that Kalinga has the highest at 1,721, 753; followed by Mountain Province, with 265, 750 bearing trees; Benguet, 138, 555 bearing trees; and, Abra with 4,884 bearing trees.
The region has a long way to go to make coffee a main industry and livelihood source of farmers in the region.
DTI-CAR director Myrna Pablo sees the need for coffee “enablers, operators and farmers to work together in the various aspects of the value chain to produce and process top quality products with zero defects.”
At the DA-CAR, Regional Executive Director Narciso Edillo, for his part, appreciates the forging of relationships that yields insights and practical wisdom in understanding the growth and decline of the coffee industry in different parts of the region, and doing something to make coffee a “tree of life, progress, and peace,” for the Cordillera peoples.
The two statements yield the right tone and conclusion to making the coffee the tree (with its great flavor) of peace (tenderness) in our rugged mountain settings.
In America, before the days of Columbus, “peace will be when you accept it in your heart.”
Today, in the Cordillera, peace, progress, and well-being is when you grow and drink great tasting coffee in a mug. I hope so.