This is a story of the senior citizens I’ve known for the past 10 years.
Loving organic farming grandparents Elizabeth, 72, and husband Roserito Berico, 75, from Barangay Miligan, Molave, Zamboanga Del Sur are not only blessed with longer lives and a romantic relationship that stays strong through the years, but also with the ability to innovate and to utilize their small piece of land to be very productive beyond the imaginations of most of us.
In their 2,000-square meter land (less than ¼ hectare) where their house is constructed, Ate Abeth and ‘Nong Rose as most of us called them, have successfully raised 7 cows, 10 pigs, chickens and grown vegetables, cereals, herbs and spices, many beautiful flowering plants, fruit trees, coconuts, and even established rice paddies in it. Amazing! Isn’t it?
Everything works in synergy and in cycle. There’s no waste. For instance, the manure from the cows and pigs are regularly collected and used as fertilizers for their plants. For the past months when most people are hooked to flowers, giving raise to the new words ‘plantita and plantito,’ this lovely grandpa and grandma have earned more from their flowering plants, among others.
It’s inspiring to see that at their age, they still do the regular farm chores on their own. ‘Nong Rose is assigned to the cows while Ate Abeth is responsible for the pigs, flowers and marketing stuffs. I’ve personally known them for the past 10 years but there’s always something new every time I came to visit them at their diversified farm. Broadminded persons like them never run out of innovations and the will to learn and to unlearn.
When asked “how much income are you getting from all these?” They refrained from giving a figure but the smiles on their faces can already tell that it is more than enough for their needs and simple lifestyle.
Their ways of living and kind of discipline, in many aspects, have significantly contributed to the success of their 9 children, all of whom are professionals/college graduates. And one of whom, Florante or Plong-Plong, is a graduate of agriculture from Central Mindanao University (CMU) and a practitioner and advocate of agroecology also.
On top of their hectic farm chores, Ate Abeth and ‘Nong Rose always have the quality time to extend their voluntary services to San Vicente Ferrer Parish in Molave as educators, mainly responsible to give seminars to those lovers who seek the Sacrament of Matrimony, drawing their practical advises from their faith and actual experiences.
Socially and politically, Ate Abeth and ‘Nong Rose are very active members of Malahutayong Mag-uuma nga wala Mogamit og Makahilo (MMMM) or sustainable farmers not using pesticides and synthetic inputs. They courageously asserts their rights to food and to seed. Ate Abeth is one of the key figures behind the successful World Food Day Celebrations that took place in Molave from 2012 up to 2019, and certainly this year if not to the adjustments they had to do in line with COVID-19 preventions. The Chairperson of MMMM, Teodulo Badillo, gained international recognitions https://fastenopfer.ch/philippinen-agraroekologie-corona/ last June when his farming practices, similar to those of Abeth and ‘Nong Rose, proved to be very effective in combating the impacts of COVID-19.
But Ate Abeth and ‘Nong Rose aren’t the only one, other senior citizens are very productive also. Their stories can be read from the links below:
- Zosima Abonite http://agroecophilippines.org/organic-farmers-are-jubilant-and-strong/
- Belen Apale http://agroecophilippines.org/ordinary-farmers-with-extraordinary-deeds/
- David and Dioscoro Carbon http://agroecophilippines.org/this-lovely-couple-makes-organic-rice-affordable-to-everyone/
- Numeriano and Precila Gabutero http://agroecophilippines.org/covid-19-brings-out-more-creativity-in-this-organic-farming-family/
- Arthur Jurada http://agroecophilippines.org/great-organic-farmer/
On the thoughts of who will follow what these seniors have established when their time here on earth is up, it’s worth assuring somehow that there is now an increasing no. of young organic farmers who are responding to the need and making more innovative approaches. Their stories can be read from these links:
- John Raymund Jurada http://agroecophilippines.org/he-made-the-right-decision-of-his-life-become-a-farmer/
- Lourdes Geraldo http://agroecophilippines.org/eugenio-geraldo-organic-farmer/
- Young Organic Farmers in North Cotabato http://agroecophilippines.org/kids-4-sdgs-rooting-for-childrens-rights/
If you would want to know more about the farming practices of the Bericos, you can contact them directly at 09214001876.
Watch out for more stories to come under our Western Mindanao Series.