For the Dumagat People, maintaining their indigenous way of land cultivation and farming is their way of preserving their rich cultural history and honoring their ancestors while also enriching their indigenous way of life as time goes by. Amid the false promises of a ”modernization” in their ancestral forests through development aggression, the Dumagat People of General Nakar, Quezon navigate their many ways to self-determination through sustainable agriculture.
“Para po sa aming mga katutubong Dumagat, ang mataas na kalidad ng buhay ay iyong may pagkain kami mula sa kalikasan. Kung kailangan namin ng isda ay nandiyan sa dagat at ilog, maging sa mga sapa. (For us Dumagats, the standard of a high quality and meaningful life is when we have food sourced from nature. If we need fish, we may find it in the sea, rivers, and even streams.)”
“Kung kailangan namin ng karne at mga prutas ay nandiyan sa gubat. Nandiyan din ang aming pagamutan at pagkukunan ng sapat na mga bitamina at protina. Lahat ng kailangan namin ay nasa kalikasan. Subalit dahil sa mga dayuhan ay nauubos ang mga ito, ang [tanging] natitira ay ang mga basura na kanilang iniiwan. (If we need meat and fruits, we can have them in the forest. Nature serves as our clinic, and a good source of vitamins and proteins. Nature has everything we need. However, because nature is now being exploited by outsiders, especially foreign corporations, the only thing left is the waste they leave behind.)
These are the words shared by the Dumagat people during the discussion on the MASIPAG Orientation on Sustainable Farming last June 10, 2022 in General Nakar, Quezon Province. The said discussion is in partnership with the Integrated Development Program for Indigenous Peoples of Southern Tagalog (IDPIP-ST) and was facilitated by the farmer-trainers from the said province.
Through its continuous effort in revitalizing local and indigenous knowledge, materials, and technologies amid the effects of the Green Revolution that virtually obliterated it for the past five decades, in 2017, MASIPAG held its National Conference on the Situation of the National Minorities in Brgy Lahug, Tapaz, Capiz to gain an understanding of the significant contribution of the indigenous peoples in the conservation and protection of indigenous seeds and associated knowledge, sustainable practices in agriculture, and climate change resiliency.
Understanding and integrating the significant contribution of the indigenous peoples in agricultural production and land management is a potent tool for enhancing both local and indigenous farmers’ self-confidence in further developing their own practices under their own context. With this, it will give birth to concrete and sound alternatives of technologies that would suit the needs of the community and their respective social environment. Indigenous and local farmers would then become more autonomous and can become free from exploitative controls of local, foreign, and corporate entities such as the effect of the Green Revolution. MASIPAG is one with the fight of the indigenous people, whose lives, livelihoods, and culture are being threatened by “development” projects and conventional agriculture such as Golden Rice in their protected lands, lack of social services and economic difficulties, red tagging and militarization, usury and fraud, and disrespect of their inherent rights.