A day out of Bendum

Pedro Walpole

After weeks of rain, I took a day’s break from the virtual COP27 sessions to visit APC’s connecting schools in other villages. It was 16 November and it was a bright morning. With Jason Menaling, APC’s Forest and Culture Coordinator, we headed out by motorbike.

The road to Mindagulos has its limits. Trucking supplies and materials in will need a four-wheel drive even on a dry day.

The road to Mindagulos has its limits, but on a dry day it was fine.

We staked out the ground plan for the school site which was just outside the village. The site has a beautiful view, excellent drainage, and enough space for three classrooms, a teachers’ room, and an 8×12 meter open area. The bolted bamboo/cement technique will be used to construct the classrooms. There is a 4×8 meter bodega to store the materials, complete with a tin roof and walls of amakan or woven bamboo, restrooms, and a volleyball court, and hopefully solar power can be installed later.

We then went back on the other side of the Pulangi River to visit Nabag-o and Nabawang. I looked at the east over to the hill that surrounds Bendum and though a storm is brewing, Bendum looks cool and peaceful. In these moments I feel so blessed that I have such opportunity to be here.

Sun drying is the traditional post-harvest method that provides corn traders and farmers with the least expensive way of drying corn. This method is inexpensive and better for the environment but leaves the grains vulnerable to loss, contamination, and damage, which lowers the value of the crop. With more rains, the risk of crop loss also increases.

Back on the highway, the big corn dryers of the traders and also the small farmers’ patches can be seen along the road. Local transportation of the harvest is usually done by horse.

Arriving in Nabag-o, the class in the APC school was wrapping up. Solar power is already installed. Accommodations for teachers beneath the school are set to be finished, as well as the abohan (oven) outside.

On the road back to Nabawang, adlay (Coix lacryma-jobi or Job’s tears), or Adlay millet is grown over a large area, which is a crop that reflects cultural practices and now has a good price in the market as an alternative to rice.

At the APC connecting school in Nabawang, the students had gone home for lunch.

Down the slope is the youth center that the youth constructed as part of the Hulas program, as with the other buildings the area.

With the serene bridge that crosses the Pulangi in sight, we returned to Bendum.

Grown with pesticides and fertilizers, tomatoes are among the agriculture produce with the highest pesticide residue. The ecological impacts of pesticide use are quite severe, disrupting food webs, reducing biodiversity, and contaminating soils and water sources.

Here, we pass another agriculture endeavor: intensive tomato growing for the city and grown with pesticides and fertilizers. The red tomatoes wasted on the ground, and only the green tomatoes were crated for transport.

Back home in Bendum, I took the other path through the garden. There is the vermiculture house that Grade 11 and 12 students constructed as part of their technical vocation course.

And up through the grazing area of the buffalo is my station.

From there, I resumed my listening to the morning events of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. As it was only half a day, we returned for a late lunch of our own vegetables.

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