“Nakita nimo nang umaw nga bungtod, Greg. Mo full time ko og farm aron ako nang ma develop.” (Do you see that barren hill, Greg. I’ll become a fulltime farmer so that I can develop it.)
This was the bold commitment made by Efren Empinado, 57, in 2004 to Greg Tacbas, who was then working with Balay Mindanao, and now the current Cluster Coordinator of Agro-Eco Philippines in Northern Mindanao since May 2018. A year after he made that commitment, Efren began practicing agroecology http://agroecophilippines.org/the-agro-eco-philippines-approach-to-agroecology/ in a 4-hectare land, given by to him by his younger brother who is a Roman Catholic Priest, on top of a barren hill situated in Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.
No wonder why we’ve seen no other houses constructed close to the house of Efren and wife Elenita when we visited their farm few days ago, imagining to ourselves how difficult it was to establish a living in such a very difficult environment 15 years ago. The place has no source of running water, sloping, and far from the town proper. But “there’s no such difficult situation if you only have faith in what you’re doing” says Efren.
Fast forward to the present. Efren and Elenita are epitomes of successful organic farmers. Out of their diversified farm where they have been growing vegetables, bananas, coconuts, fruit trees, flowering plants, and raising pigs, cows, ducks, chickens and turkeys, the family of 8 has all-day sources of healthy food and reliable income which are very instrumental to the educational attainment of their children. Three of them are public school teachers, one is a member of the Philippine Army, the other one is a graduate of HRM, while the youngest is still studying.
Efren is currently the Chairperson of their farmer’s organization named ‘Dayong’ which literally and culturally means ‘mutual help’ in Cebuano and represents the farmers in the Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Council (MAFC) of Lagonglong, as their Chairperson. And since 2018, Efren is one of the most active, open-minded and innovative farmer-trainers of www.agroecophilippines.org. He is also a widely respected practitioner of reflexology and traditional medicine. He can cure our illnesses and does his part in healing the wounds of our beautiful blue planet.
You can contact Efren directly at 09068471239 if you’re interested to know more about his farming practices, healing, and story of transformation.