Hello, everyone! Nope, I haven’t forgotten at all to write anything here on WordPress. I just had a lot of things going on in the past weeks that took most of my time and attention. God, however, never fails to remind me because though I was inactive for more than a month already, I still keep on getting blog “Follows” and post “Likes.”
Thank you, all, for dropping by this site and showing your love. May you be blessed as you read along and His revelations be known to you as well. ❤
From A Promise-Keeper To Another Promise-Keeper
I bet God’s reminder through all of you is His way of saying, “My child, don’t forget the promise you made back in 2013 when I saved you that you will make this online journal a testimony of your spiritual journey.” 😀
Yes, Lord. I haven’t forgotten at all. In fact, I now have 64 drafts. Some of them are half-finished while there are those that contain only one word to remind me of the thought that I need to write about.
I originally came up with an editorial calendar to make publishing on a regular basis way easier. I believe, however, that it is not how God intended it to be since I write based on the Spirit’s leading, and it has always been this way ever since I started this blog.
Let me end the long intro here so we can get on with today’s article topic. It’s one of the reasons why I was hibernating here on WordPress – the family business in Bicol.
How the Rice Tarrification Law is Affecting the Rice Farmers Now
In this previous article entitled “The Role of Climate Change and Rice Tarrification Law in Rice Production: Agri Talk,” I discussed what the RTL covers and how the mandate is supposed to benefit both rice producers and consumers.
Several months have passed since the bill was implemented, and my Dad’s assumptions that it will negatively affect the rice farmers ended up true. When my brother, sis-in-law, and I went to our home province last September, a majority of the rice farmers all over the country are expressing their sentiments to abolish the law.
The cheaper imported rice may have been a solution to most rice consumers, but the local rice struggled to compete with it. This resulted in a lower buying price for the local rice – way too low that farmers no longer gain any profit considering the high expenses involved in rice farming from the planting to the harvesting process.
Local farmers, in fact, had to loan money in order to compensate for their losses in this season’s harvests. Because of this, my Dad plans to skip planting and harvesting seasons in the meantime that market prices for local rice are low.
The Rice Farming Business Through The Decades
Our rice farming business is an additional source of income, and our parents used it to support us financially through college. They managed to send all 5 of us, siblings, to school through it.
My parents shared how their salaries as working professionals being a grade-school teacher and engineer won’t suffice to support all our needs. We also have copra production as my parents’ alternative source of income, however, the buying price of coconuts is also very low.
Both of my parents are retired now and receive a monthly pension. My siblings and I also have our own careers. But what concerns my parents more now is the situation of our rice farm helpers who rely on the planting and harvesting seasons to earn an income.
My Dad told me that should we push through in skipping the planting and harvesting seasons, which fall every 6 months per annum, our farmworkers will be forced to look for other ways to earn for a living. Most of them are skilled in rice farming only, and looking for other types of jobs will be difficult for them.
Some of them will come here to Manila to work as construction workers and leave their families behind. My Dad fears that those who do not have this privilege, considering how bus fares to Manila are that expensive for them, might end up joining the New People’s Army to get money to feed their families.
Support the Local Rice Farmers
The plight of rice farmers has created an uproar on social media. Joint efforts to support the local farmers have been created such as what Session Groceries has been doing. However, this is only limited to rice producers located near and targeting Metro Manila, which has a bigger market.
For those who are in far-flung provinces such as our rice farmers in Bicol, this isn’t an option. Because selling rice in Manila would mean costly trucking and handling fees. Our only option is to sell our palay and rice to rice traders in the region.
As I type this, I can’t help but feel a little emotional. It’s because I have seen the difficult process of producing rice, all the stress involved, all the resources needed, the amount of money shelled out, and how some of our farmworkers would ask my Dad for their salaries in advance to support their immediate needs.
They have been a part of our family for several generations now – yes, we already see them as a family because they are the ones responsible for keeping the rice production running. We just finance the entire process, but they are the ones who do all the hard work, which is extremely difficult. Agricultural work is hard labor (not to be applied in the context of punishment for prisoners).
I see the RTL as a form of oppression to the entire local rice farming industry. If it will not be abolished and market prices for local rice don’t go back to normal, we have to start looking for lasting solutions and better alternatives.
Just Wait Because God is Always on Time and Never Late
I have been asking God for answers as to why this has to happen. Why let Your people suffer? Why let those who are in power abuse those who are already disadvantaged? Why let the strong continue to oppress the weak?
And yet through those questions, God asked that I trust Him completely. He may not have revealed what His plans are and yet there is the assurance that He is working something good behind it all. Just like what He always does – He is always working.
Impatience can sometimes get the better part of me, and I oftentimes fail to obey Him as a result. I already learned this lesson the hard way in terms of my career. It’s God’s calling I work from home, but since I am expecting positive results once I obey Him, I end up doing the other way around when my expectations aren’t met.
The last office job was God’s final warning for me. After just a couple of weeks working in an office setting, here came the health scare once again. I felt persistent pain in my chest, which prompted me to resign and go through several medical checkups.
Warnings To Heed
To some of you who don’t know yet, I have a high risk for breast cancer having a solid history of breast cancer in my family starting from my great grandmother, grandmother, then to my Mom. They’re all cancer survivors.
God made me realize that the daily commute weakens my immune system at a faster rate. I believe God is telling me that He still has more for me to do and if I want to live a fulfilled life, I should obey His calling.
Aside from the health scare, the work-from-home setup also allows me to work anywhere. This means that if God calls me to be in my home province and help Dad manage our family business, I can go there anytime without disrupting my work schedule.
Setting Priorities Right
This isn’t as easy as it sounds though since the reason why I am still here in Manila is that hubby’s work is here, and he is still my first priority. Hubby doesn’t have any background in farming, and should we decide to live in Bicol for good, it will be a major change in his life. I think hubby isn’t ready for this shift yet.
And God knows that, too. So His answer was this, “Tin, wait. I am still not yet done working. Just you wait.”
For someone like me who is always planning and doing things according to plan, impatience kills me. And yet, this is where God is teaching me the greatest lesson. Though I must admit I sometimes haggle my way through His plans by asking Him to give me even just some glimpses of what He intends to do.
God will reveal some of His plans and yet they are not always a clear picture. Simply because “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.” He can only show us portions of His grand plan, bits and pieces, because that is only how far our brains could comprehend.
I have realized later on, that God’s wisdom is not to be grasped nor even understood. It is only to be received in faith, showing complete trust in His power and His sovereignty above all things.
A Glimpse of Future Investments
I don’t have the wisdom of God to put the pieces of a puzzle together. And yet, in these pieces that God reveals along the way, I can make out one word – HOPE.
The Bicol International Airport will be completed by 2020; the Bicol Fish Port is half-finished; the construction of the SLEX 4, which will cut 3-4 hours of the travel time from Bicol to Manila and vice versa, has already started; and SM is starting to build several branches in key cities in the Bicol Region including the city closest to us, which is Sorsogon.
Our hometown may not feel this rapid urbanization growth just yet, but when the time is ripe, it will slowly creep to nearby towns and provinces. With the rise of commercialization and urbanization growth, the revenues of a local government will also increase.
This translates to better employment opportunities and a better quality of life for everyone. Those who live in provinces will no longer flock Metro Manila in search of stable job opportunities. Besides, the city will also reach its saturation point. It will no longer be a conducive and habitable place to live in with all the traffic, congestion, and pollution.
A Shift in the AgriBusiness Industry
Some farmers fear this will be the dawn of the agribusiness industry if most of the lands will be converted to real estate developments. I believe not all of the agricultural lands will be converted to support the commercial and residential sectors. We will still have a need for farmlands to produce vegetables and other crops as well as meat products to supply our daily consumption.
I wrote this previous article, “Agribusiness: The Future of Today’s Economy” in this light stating that agribusiness will have a high demand as long as the local government will patronize local products. In our region, God is already establishing the market.
So this is probably the reason why He is asking me to wait. He is still in the process of establishing a market where we can sell our products. He is still “paving the way” to make it happen, so to speak. My siblings and I are initially planning on utilizing another portion of farmland that my parents own for organic farming and other projects. Our goal is to help the local community and use the idle land according to how our grandparents wanted it to be.
We proposed the idea to our parents but they are not really open to it since it’s a new venture, and they’re unfamiliar with the entire process. My grandparents have grown vegetables but only for their daily consumption. My parents don’t have enough knowledge and experience growing organic vegetables on a wider scale.
I believe there is no need to worry about competition. With the several commercial establishments that will rise, especially in the food sector such as restaurants, there will be a high demand for a wide range of agri products such as corn for flour, vegetables, fruits, among many others.
Commercial establishments will start looking for local suppliers as this is cheaper compared if their suppliers will come from the North such as in Benguet where most of Metro Manila’s vegetables are coming from. Can you grow one type of vegetable only and be the supplier of this for the entire region? Yes, it is possible. One hectare can already provide you a truckload or more of produce. If you own a huge parcel of land, you have more options for growing different kinds of crops.
My parents said this will be difficult since there are certain crops that will only grow in a particular soil type. If these are vegetables, especially the leafy ones, they don’t have a deep root system, which means they will thrive on rich topsoil. That is my guess only, however, based on my urban gardening experiment here in the condo.
So I came up with a plan to conduct a“pilot testing” for several vegetables by planting a couple of them in our backyard to see which ones will thrive and which ones won’t. The soil in our garden can be tested along with the soil taken from our farmland to compare if they are the same or not.
The experiment will run for an entire cropping season. The type of crop that is best for the type of soil will depend on the crop yield. If it produced a higher yield, then the percentage of it becoming a profitable venture is also high. It will also include all expenses involved for organic fertilizers as well as the labor, and then compare it to the market price of the selected crop.
If It is God’s Will, He Will Make a Way
And yet these are all just plans, and these plans may change or may never be fulfilled depending on God’s will. Right now, it is about waiting on His perfect time and acting according to His instructions. I asked for God’s guidance that if my plans are indeed part of His plans, may He lead me to the right resources and the right people who can help me and my siblings with this endeavor.
As typical of God, He never fails when you ask, especially if you are doing the tasks according to His will and His plans. Here are the links I found. Yes, I know, they are quite a lot, but they are all a very good read. Who knows, maybe God will also give you the answers you’ve been waiting from Him through these articles. 🙂
Bicol tops regions in economic growth
Here’s How to Transfer Land Titles in the Philippines
Government to expand Bulan fish port in Sorsogon
Spotting a good real estate investment
While typing this article, I am also listening to my favorite Worship song playlist on Spotify, and it’s just timely that this song was played twice. I believe this is meant to be the perfect ending for this article circling on this one thought – God will make a way for He is our Way Maker. ❤
I am posting two versions – the original version sung by Sinach in 2017 and the cover version sung by Leeland in 2019. 🙂
Trusting God to always lead the way,