Back in the old days, Filipino people reside in different communities and separate settlements. But at the end of the cropping season, they all gather together as a group to help harvest the rice that one farming family had planted. This cultural practice named Bayanihan is derived from the tagalog word “bayan” (community) and “anihan” (harvest). Bayanihan is the tradition of working together for the common good and has been practiced in areas where people come together to relocate a house, build a school or rebuild villages devastated by natural calamities.
But as time flies, the spirit of bayanihan fades. People lose their concern for others and get taken over today by utter disregard and rejection of the cordial values of meaningful interaction and compassion. Despite seeming absence of this rich cultural practice, there are some that still nurture this kind of tradition, one of them is iRelief Foundation.
iRelief Foundation is a non-profit organization created to extend assistance to victims of natural disasters like typhoon, earthquake and tsunami. One of their existing projects is the Livelihood Recovery and Rehabilitation for farmers through organic System of Rice Intensification (SRI) technology. Included in their agreement with farmer-beneficiaries from Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental is to engage in Dagyawan – a Visayan word that represents the Filipino Bayanihan spirit. The term also refers to the bayanihan group activities of the beneficiaries of iRelief Foundation that help the farmers in their practice of organic SRI technology.
The project aims to build resilient and sustainable communities through regenerative, ecologically sound, culturally appropriate and economically viable agriculture. Philip Saban, a farmer-beneficiary and resident of Brgy. Walang, Lambunao, Iloilo owns a 1.4 ha of farm land where the 500 sq m portion of the area is devoted to organic SRI demonstration farm. He says that through the revival of the Bayanihan tradition, he saves more in labor cost of their farm operation instead of paying 250 Php per head of labor in transplanting. Ms. Dindin Daliva, program head of iRelief Foundation describes the dagyawan scenario as a “working party” because everyone seems to be joyful, tireless and having a good time as if gathering for a celebration knowing that from their collective efforts, very good yields will follow.
The key here is to create venues and opportunities where Filipinos can again come together to work for the common good because we actually do not need some extreme typhoons or calamities just to revive the bayanihan spirit in us. If our ancestors were able to practice and celebrate this cultural treasure centuries ago, there is no reason why we cannot do it now.