NGO Conference | Communities leading climate action in Central Luzon

October 4, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

MASIPAG recently held its three-day National NGO Conference with the theme “Cultivating Synergy: Strengthening Farmers’ Organizations and Their Communities for Genuine Rural Development” in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines. MASIPAG owes its success and continuous strength in further forwarding the network’s vision and mission to its partner NGOs, working hand-in-hand with its member farmers and scientists. With farmers already equipped with knowledge and experience in agriculture and scientists with their academic experimentation and research skills, MASIPAG partner NGOs in return further elevate it through their expertise in organizing skills–becoming united to collectively and holistically confront the challenges of the failure of the Green Revolution and its lasting impact which hinders farmer empowerment up until today.

The conference was attended by 17 member and partner non-government organizations of MASIPAG from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, where one of which, namely the Alay Bayan-Luson Inc, shared about their experience on Climate Change Resilience and Disaster Preparedness in Central Luzon, Philippines.

Alay Bayan Luson, Inc. (ABI) is a non-government institution working with and for the people of Northern and Central Luzon on issues concerning climate change. It was established in 2000 following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the 1990s and to provide secretariat work to the Central Luzon Disaster Response Network (CLDRN). With its intervention area focused in Central Luzon, it eventually recognized the need to reach areas in Northern Luzon, particularly in Nueva Vizcaya and La Union. ABI has programs on Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation which include establishment of Disaster Preparedness Organizations (DPOs), capacity building training on Disaster Management, leadership training, among others.

ABI was able to support a DPO in Barangay (Brgy.) Malabago, Sta Cruz, Zambales through a Mangrove restoration project. The organization is also an active participant in anti-mining and anti-development aggression advocacy campaigns in the region. In 2008, communities in Brgy. San Ildefonso and Brgy. Dilaguidi affected by typhoons, storm surges, tsunamis and other development aggressions were also given orientation and training on community-based disaster management, disaster risk reduction (DRR), forest management, among others. These interventions contributed meaningfully to many women, indigenous peoples, fisherfolks, farmers and elderly in the communities. They eventually became members of the local DPO.

ABI also initiates relief delivery operations in communities affected by climate change based on Damage, Needs, and Capacity Assessments (DNCA) through its Emergency Response program. Among its other programs are Rehabilitation, Advocacy and Partnerships, and on Sustainable Agriculture, where MASIPAG and ABI primarily collaborates.

ABI and MASIPAG, through its office in the Luzon island, with the local farmers organizations in the municipality of Arayat in the province of Pampanga were able to establish a trial farm where local farmers were provided various rice from MASIPAG to identify locally-adapted selections and varieties. The trial farm serves as the organization’s area for research, education, and even advocacy and organizing work. They were also given training on Soil Fertility Management by farmer-trainers of MASIPAG Luzon.

Additionally, in the municipality of Baguilin in the province of La Union, a DPO named Alibangsay was able to establish a plant nursery for their mitigation project in line with the ongoing drought at the time. This served as an approach for reforestation in their watershed. The organization eventually became a nominee to the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan, an award-giving body for environmental advocates and defenders.

Amid all these work and victories, ABI highlighted the importance of movement building and the development of organizations in communities. “Ang organisado, may kakayahan at may kaalamang mamamayan ang higit na mabisang sandata sa sakuna at kalamidad (The organized, skilled and informed peoples are the most effective tools to disasters and calamities.)” said the innovator of Tuklas Northern Luzon Lab in 2018. For decades, ABI remains dedicated and steadfast in its work in “Helping People Help Themselves.”