MASIPAG farmers of Northern Quezon province has always been known of their strength in organizing and collective action towards meaningful change. Coming from a total devastation in 2004 with the onslaught of the twin typhoons in the province, the farmers have come along way in their advocacy with this year’s 8th PATIKIM festival – the farmers self-organize festival that showcases their strength and as well as an expression of their gratitude towards the people who helped them during times of crises.
For Filipinos, the month of May is the month of festivals and thanksgiving for the patron saints for their bountiful harvests. However, for MASIPAG farmers of Provincial Consultative Body Quezon 2 (PCB Q2), a different kind of festival called Patikim is held annually wherein they come together and share food, knowledge and practices as thanksgiving and to advocate for farmer empowerment, collective action, local food security and sustainable agriculture in their communities.
Held last May 31, 2023, the 8th Patikim Festival is no ordinary festival. It is an expression of solidarity and unity, highlighting the commitment of each farmer organization to give their part so that others may hear and know their advocacy for farmer empowerment and rural development.
“Both my mind and body are filled and nourished with the delicious food and learnings that our fellow farmers, MASIPAG staff and allied scientists shared in this festival” said one of the attendees.
Aside from the sharing of local delicacies made by the farmers themselves, for this year PCB Q2 also collectively discussed the effects and mitigation plans with regards to climate change, the on-going El Nino phenomenon in the country and as well as the dangers of the commercialization of the GMO Golden Rice and the MASIPAG’s legal battle in a bid to stop it.
To ensure that these discussions will turn into lobbying actions, local chief executives and municipal agriculture officers from the three municipalities also participated in the festival whereas they shared their strong support of MASIPAG farmers’ advocacy in upscaling farmer-led agroecology as a means to mitigate climate change and achieve local food security and food sovereignty.
Imbued by the spirit of solidarity, the process of coming up with the festival is the outcome and expression of farmer’s aspiration and action to be freed from the clutches of transnational corporations that hold the monopoly of seed and technology in maintaining a highly oppressive agricultural system.
Patikim Festival is thus more than just a celebration of the farmers’ will to overcome impoverished conditions. It also gestures towards building a welcoming and unifying community of farmers which advocates for an agriculture that is for and by farmers in the Quezon province – a truly process of community empowerment becoming truly people-driven and people-owned.