21st Moment: Community-based Chicken, Surveys and Farm Entrepreneurship

Of village chicken and project delivery - There are many things that hooked me in community-based projects. Villagers are sincere, kind, hospitable, caring, simple, good listeners, appreciative of what you are doing and will provide you with real human experience. But I caution my project staff by using hyperbole: I told them “If you deliver good service the villagers will kill chickens for you, but, if you fool them, they will kill you for the chicken! I always remind them that a P10,000 worth of community project when delivered as scheduled is worth P100,000, but a project worth P100,000 when delivered late is only worth P10.000”. This is one of my secrets how I develop commitment from my staff! ------------------------- Our driver and FPJ - When I was still with TESDA in Bicol our driver was a fanatic follower of the late Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ. He never missed his movies, and he kept track of the number of upper cuts and bolo punch FPJ would give his nemesis, Paquito Dias. Asked how many of such punches FPJ gives another bad guy, Max Alvarado, he would not remember because his favorite is Paquito Dias! ------------------------- Pleasing the Boss - Not all experience in the field is serious or funny, some are darn amusing. During our economic rehabilitation project for the MNLF in Mindanao the Chairman of one of the state revolutionary committees (SLN) wanted to restore an old building burned to the ground. He wanted to prove to Nur Misuari that he can rebuild the building without posts at the center – and he did it! ------------------------- On surveys: I do not believe in some surveys. When I was a student, I used to work on summer jobs to earn money for my tuition for the coming semester. One summer, my uncle, who was an engineer at the DPWH, assigned me on a traffic volume survey job in one of the road intersections in Naga City. My task was to count every person, car, truck, bus, bicycle, and horse-driven carretela using a standard survey form. At first, I had a hard time following the instructions especially on the area of classification. I would diligently check the accuracy of my counting and in filling up the form. But after one week I wondered how my work can be audited by a super being who can go back in time and see whether I was able to record all that there was to be recorded. So, in the weeks that followed I would expertly fill-up the form in the morning and had my sweet time talking to people in the corner the whole day. My reports were never audited or questioned. ------------------------- What is happening to mother earth - I grew up in a small remote farming village. My stepfather maintained an old wooden boat; fill it with water where he kept freshwater fish, so we easily catch and cook for our meals. Now, there are no more wooden boats, no more freshwater fish, and no more fresh water! What happened to our mother earth! ------------------------- In development work you do not talk about religion. You do not talk about politics. You just talk about MAN – until you got a dressing down from your donors because you are not gender-sensitive. ------------------------- History is replete of instances where a sinner is needed to save saints. ------------------------- Body and soul: For those who are in pain, do not worry; pain maybe bad for your body, but it is good for your soul! ------------------------- The devil is in the detail - The problem in our legislative system is in the preparation of the implementing rules and regulation or IRR. Laws are often crafted from researches and consultations, they embody the great vision, goals, and objectives of the law. However, the details are often left to the implementing agencies to prepare. Unfortunately, most of the time the people doing it were not part of the crafting of the law; result, we have many laws that are either not operational or do not produce the planned changes because the guidelines are the same as the old ones. ------------------------- Capitalist financing policy: Our capitalist banking and financing system is based on one and only one principle; “capacity to pay”. Anybody can deposit their hard-earned money but not everyone can take a loan unless they can prove to the bank that they can pay. Hence, collaterals, business feasibility studies, business experience, organization, and background investigations will be required. The loan applicants will be asked to sign documents, often with onerous conditions. How can the Poor benefit from this system? ------------------------- Farm entrepreneurship - There are many ways of developing our small farmers as entrepreneurs, which is a government policy – unfortunately, nobody is working on the “HOW” to do it. Our project in a farming village in Mindanao conducted a practical linear analysis of poverty with a group of small farmers. As usual they identified land preparation equipment as their need. We agreed on one condition that they will be organized and trained into a common service facility enterprise so that they can use their implement not only for their farms but also to rent them out to other farmers. The group accepted the challenge. When we went bac for the scheduled assessment we found out that the group members were able to reduce their cost of production, generate income from equipment rental, saving to buy small tools, they bought a portable welding machine, and were already thinking of lending their money to members for buying seedlings and fertilizers – all in a span of only 6 month! So, it can be done!