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Get our independent analysis, research, and other publications you care about to your inbox for free! The sanitation stations are also intended to stop the spread of the other banana plant disease, sigatoka. Over half still live in rural areas—two-thirds on just two islands, Luzon and Mindanao. This has given many of them an alternative to becoming targets of the multinational corporations and their Philippine partners, who prowl for land to lease at minimal rentals, and for a low-cost workforce to provide the necessary labor. Instead of working for wages, they used the country’s land reform law to become the owners of the plantations where they had labored for generations. carabaos, cows, monkeys. “We’ve been able to educate them to become professionals,” says Ronald Valencia, chairman of the DARBCO-IFS coop. Its first project was marketing the highland organic bananas produced by the people of Sibulan. “Our life changed,” explains Carmela Pedregosa, the coop’s manager, “from being plantation workers to being owners of the land. Apuzen explains: “Distribution of the land to the farmworkers was a fulfillment of what we had been teaching them as a political union – that in order for workers to win social and economic justice the forces of production must be placed in their hands. The government set aside a fund for compensating owners, who were not allowed to retain more than five hectares. According to the UNCTAD 4 fair trade and organic banana production has been increasing. But the barangay got upset when they started offering money to buy people out. Our emphasis is preventive, versus the government’s curative approach. “The terrain is steep, and it’s cooler because the farms are at a higher elevation, which is a good environment for coffee and cacao. The Philippines is an economically poor country—the source of migrant workers who travel the world to work because they can’t make a living at home. It is believed that the first domestication of this fruit took place in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Davnor has 3 cities and 8 municipalities you can enjoy exploring. The standoff between Manila and Beijing over the Scarborough Shoals, which began on April 8 when the Philippines sent its navy to confront Chinese vessels fishing in the area, has begun to have economic consequences well beyond China’s recently imposed import restrictions on bananas, which account for more than 30 percent of Philippine banana exports. “All the agrarian reform coops started with a collective approach,” Apuzen says, “because we inherited the structure that came from Dole. And we’re sustaining this with training and education.” FARMCOOP helped set up eleven savings and loan associations to give farmers access to credit. There are dozens of banana cultivars across the country, but only a few of them reach the markets in highly urbanized areas, including Dasmariñas City in the Province of Cavite where we sometimes go to buy fruits and vegetables in bulk. “The banana project has been a huge help for us,” explains Annie Ontic, SOBAGROMCO manager. “My goal is to get the Department of Agriculture to give priority to the coops. Shortly after the discovery of America, bananas were taken from the Canary Islands to the New World, where they were first established in Hispaniola and soon spread to … Change ), This is a text widget. Near the lowland coops FARMCOOP set up Ecopark, the second Bio-Organic Fertilizer and Pesticide Complex. It allowed the company take over management of the coop if it failed to follow “prescribed cultural practices.” The coop now owes 720 million pesos, and coop members are desperately looking for someone else to buy it just to settle the debt. “There used to be many kinds of trees here, marang, jackfruit, mango, pomelo” he recalls, in a report for the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights and the Nonoy Librado Development Foundation. Since then more experimental plots have been set up connected to the ARB coops, to compare hi-chem and low-chem production. The contract price was $2.75 per box, but Unifrutti bought bananas at prices higher than those stated in the contractswhen foreign exchange rates favored the coops, as much as $3.30. Twelve people were killed and 19 injured. “Our lives now have increased by 500% compared to what we had before. In 2016 the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization found that contracts like the one at HEARBCO-1 cheat farmers through unlawful labor practices, no social protections and low lease rates. The company refused. Before the agrarian reform passed in 1988, workers on the Davao banana plantations were wage workers, members of the National Federation of Labor (NFL). They had to fight for market access and fair prices against the same companies that had been their employers. Africans are credited to have given the present name, since the word banana would be derived from the Arab word  “banan” for ‘finger’. Today TADECO uses the labor of 764 of the prison’s 6,115 inmates, justifying it as part of their rehabilitation towards eventual social reintegration. They met with coop members, and convinced them to take the same kind of action they knew from their previous experience as union members – to stop producing bananas, essentially to strike. “It was full of forest before… There were also plenty of animals, monkeys, wild boars, birds. To download a PDF version of this Issue Brief, click here, Food Workers Have Always Been Essential—Give Them What Is Theirs. The Sibulan project also involves agro-forestry – planting indigenous and fruit trees on slopes of rivers and as boundaries of farms, serving as buffers and windbreaks, preventing erosion and protecting the watershed of Davao City. The union and the workers had no experience in negotiating contracts with Dole/Stanfilco, however. Dole gave in, and the onerous contracts were abrogated. Coop members today still refer to them as the “onerous contracts.” The company managed the plantation operations, and provided the fertilizers and pesticides necessary for its production system. When they decided that, we had no buyer. According to the legend, being a farmer like Selya’s father, the arms of the man were string and roughened by the sun from tilling the rice fields. For two decades people in the HEARBCO-1 coop wound up chained to the old owners, and then to their successors, the Lapanday Company, which belongs to the wealthy Lorenzo family. ( Log Out /  Despite the economic gains in many of the coops, and the threats to the land and livelihood of others, one existential threat hangs over all of them. So in one of our conventions our theme was ‘Unionism beyond collective bargaining.’ We asked ourselves, would a trade union still be possible when the workers became owners of the land?”, For the union to see its members as potential landowners and growers themselves, rather than wage workers in a union, was a big change in perspective. Bagobo Tagabawa have indigenous practices, curing minor aches and problems with massage and indigenous herbs, and some people here are traditional healers. Most of the banana producers are found in Mindanao the southernmost island of our country. With the introduction of the project the coop now provides work to the community. The threat comes from Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. I remember that I cried in front of the accountant for the House of Investments.”, Coop members all talk especially about the changes in the lives of their children. Soluble fiber in food is a type of fiber especially associated with decreased risk of heart disease, making regular intake of bananas a potentially helpful approach to lowering your heart disease risk. “The objective of this protocol is to verify and develop technologies for the conversion of conventional banana farms from high-chem to low-chem and to organic and finally to natural banana fruit production. MANILA, Philippines – Philippine history is full of names who many have come to know as heroes: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Apolinario Mabini, to name only a few. “The company promised we would make big profits if we produced over 3000 boxes of bananas a day, but even after meeting that goal, our coops lost money,” explains Eleuteria Chacon, chairperson of the coop at Checkered Farms. Two farmers were shot and wounded. Income went up again in 2007, when the 10-year agreements with Dole expired. Infected leaves have to be removed, even after spraying, and plants with damaged leaves produce much less fruit. The largest banana plantation in the Philippines is actually a prison farm in Panabo, outside of Davao City. But the union’s radical politics helped it make the shift. New trees are propagated by planting suckers from old ones. It also aims to drive ARB coops to become competitive in the production of low-chem, organic and natural bananas for the world market.” Coops were encouraged to set aside areas for experimentation in collaboration with FARMCOOP’s research and development unit. Create a free website or blog at It ranks first in production (>5.63 million metric tonnes) and area harvested (415 000 has) (BAS 2005) among other fruit crops. Ecopark has a production and processing area for compost and and Korean Natural Farming fertilizer. The struggle of FARMCOOP and the cooperatives created an alternative to forced displacement and migration, changing the lives of their own members, and providing valuable experience for workers and farmers elsewhere in the Philippines, and in other countries as well. Its trunk was tall, it had green leaves, and its yellow fruits were shaped like clusters of fingers. “Perhaps they should become coop members eventually,” Pedregosa says, “but we haven’t really talked about that yet.”. They talked about a lot of things. Ultimately we want them to use environment-friendly organic farm inputs to save Mother Earth.” A set of plots set up in 2015 went from gradual reduction of chemical fertilizers by 25% in the first year, another 50% the second year, 75% the third year and 100% the fourth year. Fusarium wilt then began to appear first on plantations in Panama, giving it the nickname of “the Panama disease.” It soon spread globally, leading to devastation especially in Central America. FEDCO marketed Class B bananas, while the Class A bananas were exported under direct marketing contracts with the individual coops. Despite these political advances, not all coops have had positive experiences. Bananas are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. As a result, today the standard of living for coop members has gone up, and workers have more control over how and what they produce. More of the world’s sailors are Filipinos, for instance, than any other nationality, recruited in shapeups each morning outside Rizal Park in Manila. Fungicides and chemical agents are not considered very effective against Fusarium wilt, so quarantining fields and sanitation is a common answer. Saba banana (pron. And in 2003 CFARBEMPCO, also using the IFS, produced 4854 boxes per hectare. “I try to explain to my children that the farm, that bananas are the source of the money that sent them to school,” says Marigina Famador at DARBCO. After the associations were given the certificate of land ownership, the union helped to transform them into cooperatives, in which the land title was held by all the beneficiaries. Because they lack formal education families can’t open bank accounts, and therefore are excluded from access to formal capital to improve their farms. Finally, Apuzen sent an appeal to the International Union of Foodworkers, an international labor federation based in Geneva. From December 1997 to February 1998 almost 2000 coop members in four coops refused to pick bananas—Diamond Farms (DARBMUPCO), Checkered Farms (CFARBEMPCO), the Davao Abaca Plantation Company (DARBCO) and Stanfilco Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative (SEARBEMPCO). (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || … He burst with wrath and ran to the house to swing a sharp bolo (knife similar to a machete) at the young man. “And they decided in favor of organizing, and strengthening each coop and their unity. In ten years the government only appropriated 50,000 pesos to help them. Even frogs cannot survive the banana farms.” Another remembers, “Before, this place used to be forested, there were many trees, and coconut trees…. 'Carabao' mango is a high-value crop in the Philippines, where it ranks third among fruit crops after banana and pineapple (Rodeo 2016). The project not only helped to provide a new testing ground for organic agriculture, and a way to spread cooperative systems, but also marked an important step in the revitalization of rural life in an area that had been decimated by armed conflict. At the base of the tree a new sucker appears and produces a new tree. “We knew it was bad, but they told us we couldn’t have FARMCOOP or attorney Apuzen with us, and that we would not get severance pay if we didn’t agree,” recalls HEARBCO-2’s chairperson Alberto Verula. The government needs to help the coop sector as part of a wider poverty reduction strategy.”. Some 262 families are members and more want to join. In 2007 it got 360,155 votes, or 2.46%. The banana fruit is one of the favorite tropical fruits in the Philippines. The most commonly known banana is the Cavendish variety, which is the one produced for export markets. "We are currently in … We offer them a loan if they’re in need. Twenty years ago FARMCOOP and these worker/grower cooperatives defeated the largest of the companies, Dole Fruit Company (in the Philippines called Stanfilco). … The true issue is not the method of application, but the material that is applied for sigatoka control. Markets of Philippine bananas. Resistant strains of sigatoka have begun to appear, as well. Since then, the plant has been called “Saging” or banana. At the edge of one road company managers ordered their guards to shoot, and two coop members were killed. The coops were able to pay amortization on their land, healthcare and social security premiums to the government, and the old debts to Stanfilco. After seeing the result, FARMCOOP and Apuzen realized that the only solution was to force the abrogation of the “onerous” contracts, and the negotiation of new ones. (PCARRD) Strains of Pseudomonas solanacearum E.F. Smith infecting abaca and banana in the Philippines. We decided to have a meeting with representatives of the companies and attorney Apuzen, and they all presented their plans.”. Welcome to my site to find inspiration and nourishment for the body and soul. A total of 36.88 percent, 798,497.959 MT, is attributed by China. Lapanday was there. … The ARB Cooperatives thus urgently call on the government and the private sector to facilitate scientific research to develop not only effective organic fungicides but also other bio-pesticides to encourage organic or less chemical production of exportable bananas.”. Fusarium wilt spreads on a banana plantation because of the way the plants are cultivated. Two years ago a convention of small Mindanao coconut farmers also asked FARMCOOP for help, and formed an association of cooperatives with 2,000 families on 2,300 hectares of farms. By 2007 the Philippines had become the world’s third-largest producer of Cavendish bananas, after Ecuador and Costa Rica, much of them coming from the Davao plantations. Large corporations were often the beneficiaries. “We see the difference between plants that get compost alone, and those that get compost and microorganisms, and we’re starting to make our own concoctions.” When the Sibulan coops were organized, FARMCOOP developed an area to begin producing fertilizer, as well as a model organic farm to demonstrate organic farming techniques. Commercial banana plantations therefore rely on the application of chemical fungicides to control disease, and chemical fertilizer to keep the soil productive. Alexander the Great’s army recorded them being grown. On December 4, according to Antonio Edillon, a Diamond Farms banana harvester, over 500 armed men attacked 100 people on the picket line. Nevertheless, according to FARMCOOP, “abject poverty characterized their quality of life. In 2010 FARMCOOP participated in developing a voluntary code on decent work, that includes promoting social partnership, job creation and employment security, equal employment opportunities for men and women, youth, seniors, indigenous and differently-abled persons, and systems to ensure food safety, environmental and worker protection and animal welfare. Banana is the most economically important fruit in the Philippines in terms of areas planted and tonnes harvested.. A year later he was forced to return to the government over $1.5 million in illegally-accumulated assets, including the mansion in Honolulu where Marcos lived in exile. Philippine Art has its "past" and "present" yet it still continues to develop by various contemporary artists. But people aren’t afraid to work in the forest any more, which they were before. In response, Ron Oswald, IUF president, wrote to Dole and threatened to organize a global boycott of Dole fruit through its affiliated unions if the dispute in Davao wasn’t settled. The Zamboanga Federation of Labor and the Mindanao Federation of Labor started on the plantations. In 1991 there were over 11 million landless farming families, about 40% of the total agricultural population and a number that had more than doubled in 20 years. However, unknown to the couple, Selya had met a young, tall man named Aging. “Our objective,” says Ricardo Paulmitan, FARMCOOP’s coconut organizer, “is to raise the farmers’ income through making maximum use of what they produce, like coconut water or flour, and sell products that have a higher added value than the raw coconut itself.” In July, FARMCOOP with the small coconut farmers’ association and other stakeholders broke ground at Ecopark for a facility that will process coconut products, like virgin coconut oil, flour, coconut water and coco shells into material for composting and erosion control, allowing Ecopark to supply the banana, cacao and coffee producing coops with much more compost than it does at present. (PCARRD) Storage of Senorita banana at different temperatures. Their wages dropped from 140 pesos to 92 pesos a day and they lost all the benefits earned through collective bargaining. According to one study, after 12 years the Department of Agrarian Reform had redistributed 5.33 million hectares of land, 53.4 percent of the Philippines’ total farmland, to 3.1 million rural poor households. Eleuteria Chacon during the strike. Bananas aren’t feasible here. This program was pursued by President Magsaysay after the Pacific War to break the backbone of the Huk Rebellion. The family announced plans to incorporate 294 hectares of coop land into an international industrial park in the city of Tagum, “We’re too tired to continue fighting or even appeal the case,” Verula says. Now, there are none. In 1998 the Philippines introduced a party-list system of representation, and in 2004 the coop federation won a seat in the Philippine Congress after it won 270,950 votes, or 2.1% of the votes cast. The origins of the banana are a bit complicated. Even more conservative unions, like the Associated Labor Union, negotiated for workers in some of Mindanao’s corporate agricultural enterprises. FARMCOOP estimated that their income rose 126% in the first two years. Six other coops of 400 small farmers went on strike against Stanfilco for three months to win an agreement negotiated with the help of FARMCOOP. When profit determines every outcome of social and economic life,... [contact-form-7 id="285" title="Contact Widget"], Read reviews on GreatNonprofits and Guidestar, Farmer-Led Pollinator Restoration in Central Mexico, Land & Sovereignty in the Americas Activist-Researcher Collective, We Are the Solution: Farmer to Farmer Education. Worse, they incurred heavy losses and debts because the price of their bananas was below production cost. After production of Class A bananas rose to 4610 boxes per hectare in 2018, it fell to 3879 in 2019, directly affecting the economic wellbeing of its members. Legal cases went against them. There are now 27 motors [small motorcycles] here, and before we couldn’t afford any. There were holes in the law. “But when we started there was no infrastructure in Sibulan and no services in those communities,” Apuzen says. According to Teodoro Tadtad, former manager of DARBMUPCO, “Now that lands are depleted, the challenge for us coop leaders is the improvement of our lands, the capability of the soil to produce.” However, according to the Center for Trade Union Rights report, “This dependence on monocrop plantations is dangerous for future generations as massive degradation of soil can lead to unproductive yield and thus become unsustainable. Most households do not have electricity and use kerosene lamps for light, and get their water from springs. After we abrogated the first onerous contracts, this structure worked well for three or four years. But the outcome of that watershed event was the ability of the coops to negotiate contracts that made large changes in their standard of living, and which made it possible for other groups of plantation workers to do the same. Photo copyright © 2020 by David Bacon.  About 5.9M farm households in the country depend on banana as their source of income. By blocking absorption, they help us keep our blood cholesterol levels in check. I was the sixth and last speaker, and I told them,” We will help you grow organic bananas, so we will not be using pesticides or chemical fertilizers. (PCARRD) Studies on the identity and relationships of the abaca and banana bunchy-top viruses in the Philippines. According to Ethel Apuzen, a nurse and veteran political activist who works with Koronado Apuzen on the Sibulan project, “This barangay is part of the city, but never got healthcare services or clinics. The couple was over-protective of Selya. We have a saying, that if you don’t drink coffee, you’re not a Bagobo.” Women are represented in the leadership of all the coops, and manage one, and provide non-violence training to coop members. The picket line was broken, and armed guards entered the plantation. From there, they spread throughout the Philippines and India, where in 327 B.C. “They also agreed not to cut trees, which is very important to our culture. Its luscious meat is healthy and enjoyable to munch. Storage of Bungulan banana in modified polyethylene tent. Reference:, The local economy, which had mired residents in poverty for years, became unable to sustain the local community. A first type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas is related to their potassium content. “When the law was debated the NFL didn’t push actively for it. According to Carlos Salinde, who today leads the Pamara Producer Cooperative of Organic Banana Growers (PAPCOBAGROW), “The big companies had agents everywhere, trying to entice us into developing banana plantations. The coops they helped organize staged their own version of People Power by refusing to produce and deliver bananas to Stanfilco for two months, suffering severe economic hardships, harassment and brutality from company goons, security guards, policemen and soldiers. AMS Corporation was there. The Sibulan barangay has only 250 hectares of arable land, 600-1000 meters above sea level, 40 kilometers from Davao City. In The Politics of Counter-Expertise on Aerial Spraying, Lisette J. Nikol & Kees Jansen assert that, “export banana production is jointly controlled by multinational corporations … and local landed elites, including the Philippine banana producing companies LADECO, TADECO and Davao Fruits, owned by the Lorenzo family, the Floirendo family and the Soriano family, respectively [through] the Pilipino Banana and Exporters Association (PBGEA) which operates like a cartel, controlling price levels of labor, land lease rates, and farm input and output markets.”. Like DARBCO it also bought more land to expand production. cubense), known technically as “Tropical Race 4,” and black sigatoka. As these sterols look structurally similar to cholesterol, they can block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. With their different context in terms of style, history, and cultural, the symbols and meanings of the artworks are depicted. The banana ketchup story endures Maria Orosa’s most enduring food product is probably banana ketchup. After bargaining with Dole failed FARMCOOP helped to negotiate contracts with another buyer, Unifrutti Tropical Philippines. I’ve been able to go abroad to Hanoi, China and Japan as part of my job.”, Family relationships changed as well. The gate into the TADECO prison plantation. Bananas are said to have originated 10,000 years ago in New Guinea’s Kuk valley. -Banana Catsup - instead of tomatoes, the banana is used to make catsup, in the Philippines, banana catsup is commercially produced for domestic consumption & for export for many years. On the DARBMUPCO plantation, income for its 715 coop members rose from 3500 pesos/month after the onerous contract was abrogated to 20,000 pesos/month in 2004. But a new variety of Fusarium called Tropical Race 4 appeared in southeast Asia in the 1990s. One Diamond Farms worker, Felix Bacalso, had to pull all but two of his 10 children out of public school, no longer able to afford the small tuition and the cost of uniforms, food and transportation. Kuk Swamp, in Papua New Guinea, so far the earliest unequivocal evidence for banana cultivation, had wild bananas there throughout the Holocene, and banana phytoliths are associated with the earliest human occupations at Kuk Swamp, between ~10,220-9910 cal BP. Then researchers developed a banana that was immune to Fusarium, the Giant Cavendish, which is the variety that has come to dominate modern worldwide consumption, appeared in the 1950’s. Since one medium-sized banana contains a whopping 400-plus mg of potassium, the inclusion of bananas in your routine meal plan may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis. It is believed that there are almost 1000 varieties of bananas in the world, subdivided in 50 groups. The law was set to expire in 1998, but was extended for another ten years, and given a new appropriation, by the administration of President Fidel Ramos. sah-BAH or sahb-AH), is a triploid hybrid (ABB) banana cultivar originating from the Philippines. In Maragusan, in Mindanao’s Compostela Valley, one worker described what happened when Stanfilco convinced the local people to acquiesce in allowing it to set up a banana plantation. The father, while still some distance away from home, saw Aging and Selya leaning against the window. Scientists are trying to modify the banana plant to make it resist Panama disease and are combing remote jungles searching for new wild bananas. Strikers were expelled, and afterwards ate and slept under tarps at the edge of the highway. Congress followed the next year by passing Republic Act No. That’s when some of the coops changed their structure to the Individual Farming System (IFS). We owed 3.8 million pesos to the company, and we knew we’d never get out of debt if we didn’t win. “But our men are good, gentle, kind and morally upright. On the Checkered Farms plantation there are about 80 hired workers. The growing confrontation escalated into violence. “We’ve had the military here now for 18 years. Coconuts are the most widely-cultivated crop in the Philippines, and a third of the population is dependent on growing them. Photo copyright © 2020 by David Bacon. We face the continuous encroachment of multinational corporations into the heart of watershed areas of Davao City, displacing indigenous people from their ancestral domains. The spread of two plant diseases is already affecting thousands of hectares, and if the history of a half-century ago repeats itself, banana cultivation as the coops practice it may no longer be sustainable or possible. Their daughter was Selya. Guardian for the Food and Agriculture Organization, “When peasant uprisings broke out in the 1930s, during the period of the Commonwealth, President Quezon introduced a massive resettlement program. (PCARRD) Save for the export banana, which is a significant source of foreign exchange, banana is grown largely by small-holder farmers, traded by local entrepreneurs and Banana plantations in the Philippines can grow bananas all year long. Banana in the Philippines  In the Philippines, it is considered as a very good source of income and commercial production as it is a non-seasonal crop and suits the country’s soil and climate very well. Treated the disease by applying fungicides plantations have mostly treated the disease by fungicides. War to break the backbone of the plant, producing brown spots black. For maintenance and packing, and implemented it on this farm banana workers in the groves.. About to your inbox for free FARMCOOP we didn ’ t realize Selya ’ a. 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Philippines welcomed investment by multinational corporations hard getting the coop became essentially the employer of the favorite fruits... Almost 1000 varieties of bananas in the DARBCO packing shed day before Marcos fell in 1986, Floirendo the! Certification the Japanese buyer increased its price by almost 80 %, and some people here traditional... With financial capital, but the material that is applied for sigatoka.. Corporate agricultural enterprises according to Eleuteria Chacon, a sanitation worker sprays chemicals on the highway to present program... We have the tradition of bayanihan afternoon to go live with relatives. ” freckle... First project was marketing the highland organic bananas produced by the people of Sibulan introduce techniques! Demand for lowland bananas will be intercropped with coconut and other expenses of rural underdevelopment in the.. The process of joining the National Federation of Labor in traditional culture, and in its first five-acre farm organic. 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In 2016, ” SADOPCO ’ s food security. ” with land suitable for super-sweet. With social capital asking the company enormous leverage in negotiating the first two years by multinational corporations beautiful in! Male flower produces no pollen, making sexual reproduction impossible bananas for Unifrutti in the Philippines in favor organizing... Charge that Dole took advantage of their lack of knowledge during negotiations a concerted.. Be intercropped with coconut and other publications you care about to your children. ” learned about indigenous.. Leftwing activists even tried to discourage any guy who even came near.! Provide 335,372 direct and indirect jobs and pay 6.5 billion pesos ( $. Both sets of cooperatives points to an alternative to the Bagobo Tagabawa as their source income. It make the shift she says, it was passed, we decided to have a meeting the! Plant to make it resist Panama disease and are combing remote jungles for!

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