Beyond Feeding the Filipino Masses: A Rahib Mamaluba Story

By Carmela Rose De Castro
Photo from Melissa Alamo

“Napakaganda po ‘yong sinasabi na ang pagsasaka ay huwag po nating ikahiya dahil ito po ang nagpapakain sa masang Pilipino. Dati po [ay] halos wala po kami pero dahil po sa kagandahan ng pagsasaka, naabot po namin ang aming mga pangarap. Huwag po tayong mawalan ng pag-asa. Hindi po ibig sabihin na maaari lang pong umasenso ang isang tao kung nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral,” Rahib Mamaluba shares how agriculture has changed his life despite not being able to finish school.

(“It is good, as to how it is said that we should not be ashamed of farming because this is what feeds the Filipino masses. Before, we [had] almost nothing but because of how good farming is, we are able to reach our dreams. We should not lose hope. It does not mean that a person can only flourish if he or she has finished school.”)

Rahib, as his peers called him, is a native of Kabacan, North Cotabato. In 2004, he came to the municipality of Mamasapano to make a living. 

He started his farming with only half a hectare, which was not yet his own, in Mamasapano. Back then, he only harvested an approximate of 50-60 bags per hectare because Mamasapano was only recently irrigated. 

“Karamihan pa po dito, hindi pa sila marunong sa pagsasaka ng palay. Noong dumating po ako dito, nag-implement po ang Al-Rahman ng training na tinatawag na Farmers Field School at isa po ako sa napabilang na nakasali na makapag-aral doon,” Rahib said. Being part of this training opened a new door for him in his farming, a turning point of a major change in his life. 

(“Most of them here were not yet knowledgeable on rice farming. When I came here, Al-Rahman implemented a training called Farmers Field School and I’m one of those who were able to join and study in there.”)

Heart of a father

Besides his profession as a farmer, Rahib is also a father of three children. He admits he is lucky enough because his family pours their hundred support into everything he does. After all, they also see the importance of agriculture.

“Nahikayat ko ang pamilya ko [na makita ang kahalagahan ng pagsasaka] kase nasa harap na nila mismo yung sakahan, tapos nakikita nila mula noong maliliit pa ang mga anak ko kung saan [nagmumula] ang ikinabubuhay nila,” according to him.

(“I have encouraged my family [to see the importance of farming] since the farmland is already right before their eyes, and they had already seen it as our source of income since their childhood.”)

Rahib shares that all his family’s needs are attended to through his income from farming. He even affords to provide for his children’s wants, emphasizing that there is money in agriculture.

“Natutulungan nila ako sa ginagawa ko sa farm, halimbawa sa pag-iispray. ‘Yong mga anak ko na po ang nag-iispray sa area ko. Kung may mga damo na kaunti, sila na po ang nag-wiweeding. Tapos kung nagpapatubig at nasa lakad ako, iniiwan ko na lang po sa kanila,” he narrates as all of his male children also shares in labor on doing some farm services.

(“They help with my activities on the farm, for instance in spraying. My own children perform the spraying in my area. If there are some weeds, they also do the weeding. Then if there should be irrigation to be done and I have errands to attend to, I can instruct them to do it.”)

Having the real heart of a father, Rahib also takes care of eight young men, who help him in his work on the farm. He gives each of them hectares to manage out of the 20 hectares he currently handles. 

Rahib in the cooperative

Rahib (left) during the collection of soil sampling for selected farmers implementing the
Minus One Element Technique (MOET). (Photo from Ronniel Manial Beda)

After finishing the Farmers Field School training, Rahib gained extensive knowledge about farming. This was also the same time that he became a member of Al-Rahman Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative. 

“Matapos ko pong maging miyembro, pumasok na po ang Al-Rahman sa seed production, ‘yong pagbebenta ng binhi. Ako po ‘yong nag-manage doon sa farm area ng Al-Rahman kung paano maggawa ng mga dekalidad na binhi,” Rahib said.

(“After I became a member, Al-Rahman ventured in seed production and marketing. I managed the farm area of Al-Rahman, specifically on how to produce quality seeds.”)

Training came successively to Al-Rahman Farmers MPC, including ones from the government, and Rahib was sent as the cooperative’s representative. It paved the way for him to be known by the Department of Agriculture (DA), which resulted in his attendance in various training across the country. This was also the start that his name became well-known in Al-Rhakman.

“Ako po ‘yong pinapadala ng Al-Rhakman [sa mga training] hanggang lahat ng napag-alaman ko sa training, pag-uwi ko po dito sa Mamasapano [ay] itinuturo ko naman po ‘yon sa mga miyembro ng Al-Rhakman saka sa mga karatig na mga farmers. Tapos doon po nagsimula na natuto ng maganda ‘yong mga farmers dito,” he stresses. 

(“I have been sent by Al-Rhakman [to training] to the point that everything I learn from the training, I bring them home here in Mamasapano and impart these to the members of Al-Rhakman and to the neighboring farmers. Then, here is where the farmers start to learn.”)

Besides being sent as the cooperative’s representative, he has also managed the cooperative’s social extension, Al-Rahman Farmers Radio Communication Network, which shares farming information to their community.

Al-Rahman Farmers Radio Communication Network is aired through their community radio, every Wednesday, from eight to nine o’clock in the evening. Through the broadcast, farming technologies are being shared to the listeners who come from different municipalities in the comfort of their homes as long as they have a radio.

For Rahib, the biggest help from the cooperative came when they had nothing. In Al-Rakhman, they have someone to run to. Al-Rakhman, as he describes, extends help as they can borrow some rice and money from the cooperative in times of lack, necessity, or emergency. 

“Kung sarili ko po ‘yong tatanungin, kooperatiba rin po ang dahilan kung paano ako nakilala simula’t simula hanggang ngayon,” Rahib said with conviction. 

(“If I ask myself, the cooperative is the reason why I am known from the very beginning and up until today.”)

Win for Rahib, for the cooperative

Rahib’s participation in various training as the cooperative’s representative has become a win for him and his cooperative. Gaining attention from different institutions and organizations his participation has also paved a way for Al Rahman Farmers MPC to be popularly known, and in 2013, he was awarded as a Local Farmer Technician in Mamasapano. 

Aside from this, he also received the Outstanding Local Farmer Technician Award in the province of Maguindanao in 2014. In the same year, Mamasapano was nominated as an Outstanding Organic Municipality and the Al-Rahman Farmers MPC for its organic composting and rapid composting implementation under the program of the Bureau of Soil and Water Management. 

Rahib after receiving the National AgriPinoy Rice Achiever Award in Manila. (Photo from Rahib Mamaluba)

He was also awarded as an Outstanding Local Farmer Technician of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In 2016, he joined and became one of the nominees for the National AgriPinoy Rice Achiever Award in Manila. 

Recently, he was given the position as a Local Consultant of Al-Rahman Farmers MPC. One of the projects assigned to him is about the incoming Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) accreditation of Al-Rahman Farmers MPC RCEF Learning Site as a farm school because of the modern farming technology implemented in the learning site. 

“Isang napakalaking tulong [at] gabay po [ito] sa ating mga magsasaka at ako na po ang nagtuturo sa kanila,” Rahib expressed. 

(“This will serve as a big help and guide for our farmers, and I can impart knowledge to them.”)

Secret to Success

“Unang-una, bilang magsasaka, para magtagumpay ka sa buhay ay mahalin mo talaga ang iyong trabaho,” Rahib shares. he capital of success, according to Rahib, goes back to the love of what one does. 

(“First and foremost, as a farmer, you should really love your work to be successful in life.”)

Another secret that he shared is building a good relationship with others and serving as a role model to fellow farmers. Rahib adds that putting the technical knowledge into practice is a must because it is the only way other farmers can also apply it. As a farmer, he identifies diligence and hard work as significant attributes to embody as well.

Meanwhile as a cooperative, Rahib says that they also have strategies to attract projects to the cooperative’s advantage.

“Ang pinaka-strategy po talaga namin sa Al-Rahman ay lahat ng mga tulong po mula sa mga agencies ay iniimplementa po namin [ng] 100%. Lahat po ng mga makinarya na binibigay nila sa amin, kahit anong oras po na puntahan nila ay nandito at makikita nila,” Rahib emphasizes. 

(“Our main strategy in Al-Rahman is the hundred percent implementation of all the support we receive from the agencies. All of the machineries that they give to us, no matter what time they visit us, can be seen in our cooperative.”)

According to Rahib, they make sure that all resources will not be put to waste by taking care of these and ensuring that all the members would benefit from them.

Lastly, he reveals that the best ingredient of a thriving cooperative is to work hand in hand. If there is a problem, no one should leave. 

“May mga time na may [pinag]dinadaanan tayong problema dito sa kooperatiba. Katulad po ngayon sa makinarya kase may mga time na nagkakasabay ang paggamit [at] may mga miyembro tayo na gusto na mauna sila. Kapag hinindian mo sila at hindi mo napagbigyan, magagalit na po sila.,” Rahib said.

(“There are times that problems are encountered here in the cooperative. For instance on the machinery, there are times that it is being used simultaneously and some members would prefer to use it first. If you said no to them and their preference will not be granted, they will be frustrated.”) 

To address this problem, Rahib shares that their strategy is to settle the argument through good conversation – explaining thoroughly and with gentle tone to wait for their turn as the machinery is also limited. This is the kind of leadership that they embody, he emphasizes, inside the cooperative. 

He also hopes that all cooperative members will live comfortably and not experience hardships as time goes by. Rahib believes that this can be achieved primarily through the members’ cooperation and embodying fairness.

“Kung ano ‘yong nakukuha ng isa, dapat nakukuha rin ng kasama kasi doon talaga nakukuha ang tagumpay. Kung [may] mga problema ay dapat pag-usapan at huwag idadaan sa init ng ulo,” he stresses. 

(“What one gets should also be received by his or her fellow, since this is how success is attained. If there is a problem, it should be settled through discussion, and not through the heat of the moment.”)

A message of hope to continue

“Ang mensahe ko sa ating mga magsasaka ay sana’y mahalin natin ang ating pagsasaka, ang kinabukasan ng ating mga anak [ay nasa] pagsasaka. Huwag nating itong ipagsawalang-bahala dahil alam natin na ito talaga ang ikabubuhay ng ating pamilya,”.

(“My message to our farmers is that I hope they will love farming, the future of our children is in farming. Let’s not ignore this because we know that farming is our family’s livelihood… Let’s continue to farm and let our children inherit this so when the day comes, they will not struggle.”)

For his fellow farmers who are losing hope in agriculture or have left their farmlands, he pleads with them to stay,continue to strive, and keep coming back to farming. 

“Ang pangarap ko po bilang isang magsasaka ay ipagpatuloy ang pagbabahagi ng aking mga natutunan kasi ngayon umabot na po kami ngayon sa punto na kahit kami ay mga magsasaka na hindi nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral, [dahil dito sa] farm school, ay pwede po kaming makapagturo, Rahib shares. 

(“My dream as a farmer is to continue to share what I learned since now, we came to the point that even us who did not finish school, with the help of the farm school, can teach.”)

Today, as various municipalities have already contacted him to share his knowledge and hands-on experiences on farming, Rahib narrates his dream to continue in imparting knowledge to his fellow farmers and his hope for them to flourish in agriculture – as a livelihood that not only feeds the Filipino masses, but also a key for them and their family to thrive and reach their dreams.

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