Sumilao farmers’ barangay shines in Balay Mindanaw Awards


BARANGAY San Vicente of Sumilao, Bukidnon took the spotlight on Friday (May 27) when it was named the most outstanding barangay in one of the categories of the first-ever Balay Mindanaw Awards at the Centrio Mall in Cagayan de Oro City.

Home to the highly-acclaimed Sumilao farmers, Barangay San Vicente outshone the rest of the finalists in the Kaangayan Category (for communities with exemplary local capacities in addressing issues of injustice and inequities) to bag the top honors.

The Sumilao farmers, to recall, made the headlines in 2007 when they finally won their peaceful 10-year land rights struggle that influenced the passage of laws extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reforms Program twice, covering 15 years with a total allocation of P200 billion.

The struggle started by the Mapalad farmers, who later evolved to Sumilao farmers, in 1996 – highlighted by their 28-day hunger strike in 1997 and their dramatic 1,700-kilometer march from Bukidnon to Manila in 2007 —  to acquire the 144 hectares of land from San Miguel Corporation has inspired thousands of people not only locally but internationally as well.

Sharing the spotlight with Barangay San Vicente were Barangay Lawaan of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, Barangay Tawagan of Cagwait, Surigao del Sur, and Barangay Pagangan of Aleosan, North Cotabato. Barangay Lawaan topped in the Kalambuan Category for communities with outstanding initiatives in addressing poverty towards sustainability and viability. Lawaan, one of the rural barangays in Gingoog City, has established a community-based Backyard Broiler Production Project in partnership with Balay Mindanaw in 2005 and has been continuously looking for viable income-generating business ventures to help transform pastoral families into enterprising households.

Barangay Pagangan lorded it over in the Kalinaw Class for communities with outstanding local initiatives in transforming violent conflicts and building peace.

Pagangan, which has been severely affected by sporadic armed encounters between government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has demonstrated resiliency amidst violent conflicts by strengthening the relationship between its Muslim and Christian residents through constant consultations and dialogues.   

Barangay Tawagan came out best among the eight barangay finalists to bring home the top honors in the Kalig-on Category for communities that have shown outstanding institutionalization and development of resilient initiatives and preparedness in facing disasters.

One of Cagwait’s coastal barangays, Tawagan has weathered all the typhoons that came its way through its constituents’ concerted preparedness in times of danger and trouble. ”It’s not Superman, Spiderman, or Batman who could reduce risks, but only community initiatives and preparedness,” Barangay Tawagan’s motto says. A surprise Natatanging Balay Mindanaw Kalinaw Award was presented to Barangay Diatagon of Lianga, Surigao del Sur for its peace initiatives in addressing armed conflict.

Last year in September, a number of Lumad Leaders in Barangay Diatagon were killed by alleged paramilitary groups from the Manobo tribes which triggered a massive evacuation by residents not only from Diatagon but also from other barangays. In the years that passed, displacements had also been massive due to skirmishes between rebel armed groups and government troupes.

This has urged Barangay Diatagon to search for alternative approaches by involving different stakeholders and conduct local peace processes to reduce violence if not to resolve the conflicts.

All Balay Mindanaw Awards winners received a cash prize and specially-made trophies handcrafted by Jojo Sescon, a veteran photojournalist and multi-awarded film maker from Mindanao. They also received Sky Hydrants, courtesy of Disaster Aid International.

The Over-all Chairperson of the Balay Mindanaw Awards Edicio “Ed” dela Torre said stories of these most outstanding barangays and the rest of the 15 barangay finalists will be published in the anniversary book of Balay Mindanaw which will be available later this year.

The 2016 Balay Mindanaw Awards is part of Balay Mindanaw’s 20th anniversary celebrations held throughout the month.

Photos:

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Captions:

Barangay San Vicente, home of some members of the world-famous Sumilao Farmers, in Sumilao, Bukidnon, led by Barangay Chairman Peter Tuminhay, receives from the Judges the Jojo Sescon-made trophy, a cheque for Php25,000 and Skyhydrant after having been chosen as the Most Outstanding Barangay in the Kaangayan (Equity) Category of the Awards for showing outstanding local capacities in addressing issues of injustice and inequities.

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