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Sunday, January 23, 2011


Raul M. Palabrica of Pototan, Iloilo started earning a living as a motorcycle mechanic. His early interest in racing motorcycles became a serious business of modifying motorcycles from looks to retooling the engine so that they can be raced in both the official and clandestine tracks of Panay Island. But the need to find a viable income for his growing family and send the children to school forced him to find more sustainable means of income.

As he maintained his motorcycle modification and repair shop, he branched into the repair of farm tools and equipment, starting plows for both carabao and cattle, and, hand tractor pulled single moldboard. The more that he repaired farm equipment, the more that he observed the need to redesign them. So he started with the much used single moldboard plow drawn by either the carabao and the single axle hand tractor. He used schedule 40 black pipes as main frame and tempered steel sheet at the plow plate. The main modification that sped up the plate was the angle of the blade and the curve at the top which totally turns the soil and thus bury the straws and grasses. It also saves 2 hours per hectare for the handtractor because of the lightness and streamlined design of the plow.

Since turning to farm tool and equipment repair and manufacture, business for Raul boomed. His income from his shop has enabled him to send his children to school and to invest in equipment like the TIG and argon gas welding so that he can fabricate stainless steel parts for motorcycles and handtractors. He has also hired more workers, mostly his nephews so that he can have more time for management and to invent more farm equipment.

His latest inventions or rather innovations are the whole handtractor itself. He improved on the drive chain which made it sturdier so the farmer will need less maintenance and chain-change especially since Raul innovated to have a chain tensioner located outside and the bolt can be tightened using a basic spanner.

When farmers brought the problem of still relying on carabaos to plow the sides of the dikes so that there is mud for plastering or water sealing, Raul came up with a contraption for the hand tractor which can plow right to the edge of the dike. He also innovated on the leveler that can be pulled easily by the hand tractor and reduce leveling time by as much as 4 hours compared to other models.

With the inquiries and letters received by windmill innovator Noel Velez of San Miguel (Agriculture Magazine September 2010 issue), this author bridged Noel and Raul where the former agreed to have his windmill fabricated for interested farmers. Upon seeing the working model, Raul made several innovations such as a different type of bearings and reinforcing the main shafting so that the windmill can withstand high velocity winds. He retained the strong points such as the removable vanes in case of typhoons. He also retained the use of the jetmatic pump because of the ease in maintenance.

There are still many things to innovate in farm tools and equipment, as far as Raul concerned. “The usual equipment that we buy from other countries may not always work well in our country. We need to design and fabricate our own, like the once popular turtle hand tractor. Its wide spread use in the 1970s enabled us to recover deep muddy soils by gradually creating a shallow hard pan and later gave way to the easy navigation or operation by the single axle plow”.

“We are thankful for the research agencies like the DOST, IRRI and PhilRice which come up with basic models to innovate from. However we hope for more technical and investment support from these agencies so that we can further modernize farm equipment manufacture locally”.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The IPGEA uniform controversy threatens to blow up in the faces of the proponents bent on railroading a deal with Manila based high priced fashion designers. The silent majority of the employees are grumbling and complaining about being called corrupt and of their rights are being trampled. We interviewed Ruben who said that the last time he had his uniform sewn, it had conformed with the specifications provided by IPGEA and that it turned out cheap because it was sewn by his tailor-friend in Janiuay. He said he bought the cloth in the store where the rest of the employees bought theirs and had it embroidered by an expert who based the design on the photocopy of the model placed on the bulletin board by the IPGEA. Despite being more than 10 years old and being worn once weekly, the uniform still looks decent and fits Ruben well. He said, he likes the fit and the comfort of the barong-uniform.

Like Ruben, I also had my own uniform sewn at almost the same time and it still looks good after all these years. Mine was sewn by Yardley which may have cost a bit more than the labor of Ruben's tailor-friend, but I don't mind paying for the little extra. I had always put a premium on sturdy and stylish tailoring since to my mind, I intend that my clothes would last a long time. But I saved a few hundred pesos on my pants since I waited for the sale at a nearby department store which cut good quality signature slacks at 50% price.

If we were to make estimates at present prices, the cloths for barong-uniforms will probably cost about P200.00 per cut and labor for sewing and embroidery will be at about P300.00 for regular tailors while the high priced tailors will probably charge P450.00. This means that at its cheapest, a barong-uniform will cost an employee at least P500.00 while pants can be bought ready-made for about P300.00. So for a set of tops and pants, the employee needs P800.00. Multiply that by 4 sets, the total would be P3,200.00. A savings of P800.00 for employees means about 25 kilograms of rice good for 2 weeks supply for a family of 6. It can also mean 4 kilos of family milk that can nourish 4 growing children for a month.

But how tempting would that uniform money be if somebody commissions a Manila-based high priced fashion designer to make all the uniforms for the 2,000 or so employees? At a conservative estimate of 5% finder's fee, that would mean P400,000.00, enough to pay for mini car like the Picanto or March with some money to spare. Or for a second hand SUV which can easily navigate through the constantly flooded streets of Iloilo City. Or even a spending spree in nearby Hong Kong!

So what gives? Is it really an issue of uniform vs. any-form? Is this deja vu for the nth time?

No amount of explanation or alibi can rationalize the act of forcibly requiring employees to sign over their uniform allowance so that they will be forced to agree to receive uniforms which may not even fit them well. What about their anticipation that even if they comply fully, they can still realize some savings which can be translated into food for their waiting families?

We will not allow this new dictator to dictate her wishes with regards to the uniform allowance. Let IPGEA issue the prescribed uniforms by publishing their specifications, detailing where cloths and embroidery can be acquired. Let us have the independence to choose where we want our uniform tailored. And let this issue come to rest. Commissioners please back off.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Filipinos are indeed innovative. Show them an equipment and when their need demands so, they can copy and better still, improve on the design they saw in another farm. This is what Noel Velez of Brgy. Hibao-an, San Miguel, Iloilo did when El Nino struck in the first quarter or 2010. Shortly before El Nino, he and the owners of the farm he is managing went to Bacolod City to learn about organic farming and one of the features of the farm that caught his attention is the wind mill that provides water and saved on the power costs for the owner.

The wind mill at the Penalosa farm in Bacolod was a standard design popularized in Western Visayas in the early up to mid- 1980s. Its propeller was fixed and the pump was fabricated out of thick gauge GI pipe. The wind mill was able to rotate almost 360 degrees to catch the wind at all angles and used automotive parts such as the universal joint to provide flexibility for the piston.

Noel Velez studied the design and decided on several innovations. First is the removable and adjustable fan blades which can removed during typhoons or can be adjusted when wind is strong or weak. He also innovated on the base so that the movement to catch the wind is smooth and effortless, thus allowing the mill to rotate easily and without stress on the superstructure.

The most important innovation that Noel made is the use of the standard “jetmatic” pump which is readily available in hardware stores and easily maintained because it is simply the gasket that wears out and costs P35.00 to replace. Noel replaces the gaskets in the three (3) windmills he installed on the farm every 3-4 months.

All the three windmills that Noel built on the farm came mostly from recycled materials either from past constructions or from the nearby junk shops, except for the jetmatic pumps which are brand new. To save on the cost, the windmill tower doubles at tank tower too. The tanks are also recycled blue plastic drums used originally for bulk glucose bought by softdrinks and cake factories in the city. They were coupled together with large GI pipes so that water is distributred evenly as it is pumped into one of the drums. The pump is built just a bit higher than the drums which is provides easy lift and thus no unnecessary stress on the jetmatic pump.

By using his ingenuity, he was able to build the windmills which are not only efficient in drawing water but also a spectacle for passing motorists and commuters. Already, the farm and windmills are a crowd drawer. Many are curious about the design and had inquired about the cost if Noel were to build one for them too.

At present Noel pegs the materials cost to run to about P25,000.00 while labor and proprietary cost will be about 14,000.00 more. So for a total of about P39,000.00 per unit, Noel can build a windmill which can provide water at minimal cost year round.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Restoring the natural ecosystem of an area takes some time. In nature, it takes about 30-50 years to create an inch of humus laden top soil. But with human intervention, it takes much shorter. With my small garden, I was able to recreate a top soil of about 2 inches on hard silt and clay (brought by Typhoon Frank) in about two years by digging deep and putting in as much leaves and other organic matter I can gather. The thick mulch of leaves also helped make top soil when kept wet all the time to hasten decomposition. The spondias or libas leaves that I harvested from the several trees I planted were easy to decompose because of the nitrogen content and which attracted fungus and molds. The libas leaves rot in about a month when kept wet all the time.

I had placed aside the branches of the spondias and some ipil-ipil I harvested, hoping to dry them up for use as firewood later. I was surprised that in as short as one month, the native pleurotus mushroom locallly known as karupdup soon started to grow. Karupdup is a favorite of Ilonggos usually sauteed and made into soups. After two flushings, the edible mushroom must have exhausted the nutrients it thrives on and the trunk turned dark brown. The rains kept the branches wet and I was surprised one day to see ganoderma mushrooms growing. I think, some of the ganoderma capsules that floated during the Typhoon Frank had potent spores that when they lodged in some of the trees and the environment was good for their growth, they surfaced.

I am now experimenting on some of my chickens to see if indeed, ganoderma will be able to help boost their immune system by feeding them about 500 mg of pure mushrooms powder daily. The human dose is about 3-5 grams per day. Meanwhile, I am also harvesting the karupdup and drying them for future use.

The soil in my small garden has continued to become more fertile and dark. Cut leaves and chicken manure I harvested from the chicken cages had been regularly dumped in the gardens. The tagabang plants are now over 2 meters and the winged bean vines have crawled over the papayas which have also started to bear fruits. The sorghum plants are also regularly harvested and cut only 4 inches so that they will ratoon and become productive again in 60 days. The stalks are chopped and placed on top of the decomposing leaves and manure. These decomposing matter are regularly turned over so that decomposition is uniform and the whole pile will rot at the same time.

I have experimented on liquid foliar fertilizer too. In a 20 liter container, I placed chopped madre de agua (tricantera) leaves up to 1/3, added another 1/3 of ipil-ipil leaves mixed with some hagonoy leaves and topped chicken manure up to the brim. Then I added animal and human urine to fill the container. The 20 liter container needed about 10 liters of urine. To this mixture, I added 3 cups of indigenous microorganism concentrate. After 2 weeks, I stirred the mixture to homogenize and allow the live bacteria to work uniformly to speed up decomposition. Their decomposing action is manifested by the bubbles which are basically the carbon dioxide excreted by the live microorganisms. In about 6 weeks the bubbles subsided and when I inspected the mixture, I found the leaves almost decomposed. By then the hot weather have caused the water level to subside by about 2 inches and I added about 2 kilograms of wood ash to provide soluble potassium.

I sgtated to use the liquid fertilizer two ways. The first is as liquid soil additive where I mix 1 liter of concentrate to 4 liters of water and pour about half liter for each plant in the garden weekly. I also add about 1 tablespoon of the filtered concentrate in a bottle sprayer and fill it with 500 ml water. I spray 2 to 3 bursts per plant on the surface early morning so that the solution is further diluted by the morning due adhering to the leaves. The organic plant nutrient is easily assimilated into the plant's system through the plant pores or the stomates. My observation is that leaf fertilization has helped improve overall growth. The papaya plants have responded by flowering more profusely and the sorghum have larger grain panicles.

I continue to experiment on the small garden and meanwhile, I have more than enough leafy vegetables. My favorite vegetable mix is tinolang papaya with saluyot leaves cooked with one cup of broth and just garlic as condiment. The sago plants my Pet M gave me has multiplied several times already and the leaves have turned dark green. Even the napier grasses I sprayed with the liquid fertilizers were greener than the rest which served as control. Now I have started to appreciate the concepts of Fukuoka and Mollison that natural farming is possible and it may not be too hard to implement. I guess the basic principle is to study nature and mimic it using plants that can provide food for the family.


While I may have lost a lot in Typhoon Frank's devastation (June 2008), I have also gained a playing field for my experiments in natural farming and regeneration. The lot across my house in Tagbak was laid barren by several tons of hard clay and silt brought in by the flood waters and at first thought, I have lost the planting materials I have gathered through the years. Even the napier and Guatemalan grasses that I preserved as a resource for farmers were were totally eradicated. Only the ipil-ipil (Leucaena spp.) and the giant libas (Spondias pinnata) given to me by Atty Pet Melliza seem to have survived.

Immediately I decided to make the area my research center for rehabilitation. The soil was all mud which when dry was packed hard. Not even grasses can get established when soon after the flood, a long dry spell ensued.

As my first effort, I replanted more ipil-ipil and libas to provide immediate shade. To make the soil fertile enough to support vegetables, I first gathered as much leaves and organic matter as I can. I buried part of the leaves in 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm trenches which I then covered with the hard silt and again covered with about 15 cm thick matting of leaves. To speed up decomposition, I watered them weekly with diluted probiotics (Indigenous Microorganisms-IMO). I left the area for about six months more to allow the leaves to decompose.

Meanwhile, the libas (Spodias) grew tall and spread out with stright perpendicular branches about 10 cm in diameter. These I promptly cut to avoid danger to the power lines. Libas has soft wood ideal for light use and as raw material for match sticks. I replanted many of the branches both in the lot in Dingle. Some of the extra branches were just left to dry up to be used later as firewood.

After six months I started to dig the plots and planted local vegetables like camote and saluyot for their leaves. I also established malunggay in the center for two purposes: for the leaves and later as props for the climbing vegetables I intend to plant later.

Meanwhile, I asked for some sorghum seeds from the feedstore where I buy chicken feed and established them in some of the plots to serve as feed for the native chickens I also grow. The manure I collect from these chickens are immediately placed in the gardens near the papaya seedlings and covered with fresh leaves so that they can decompose simultaneously.

In a few weeks after I established the saluyot and camote, I was able to start harvesting the leaves. The saluyot in particular are two to three times bigger than the leaves of the saluyot planted by my neighbor. Besides, the leaves are greener and appeared waxy, probably due to the balanced nutrients they have absorbed from the organic nutrient rich soil.

The small garden I have started have stood the worst of the El nino. During the driest period, the vegetation was brown all over the subdivision, except my small garden. I guess the thick mulch of drying and dried leaves as well as those buried near the roots of the plants helped conserve the moisture which is otherwise absent from the lots nearby. And if I dig the soil, I would inevitably dig up earthworms and in many instances, I would find old men raiding my garden for them. They use earthworms to fish for tilapia in the pond of the nearby government experiment station.

Bill Mollison, the author of the Permaculture System, a natural farming model started at the University of Tasmania stated that a natural or a Permaculture farm would be several times more productive than a mono crop. For example, a rice farm will produce at the most, 1.2 kilograms of palay (rough rice) valued at about P20.00 two times a year. But a natural farm will probably produce at least P5.00 per month continuously which is about P60.00 per year. I guess I have validated that scheme when my papayas bore fruit and when the winged beans climbed the papaya and produced harvestible pods while at the base I continued to harvest saluyot and camote leaves.



The Iloilo Provincial Capitol is gripped with the uniform controversy. On one end, the majority of employees wanting to get their own uniforms sewed by their favorite tailors while drawing from the design published by the Iloilo Provincial Employees Association which details clothing and embroidery specifications. Just like what they had been used to in the days of the previous Defensor Governorship when Mr. Jerry Bionat was president of the IPGEA..

On the other end is the cabal composed of two feared and maligned witches who are insisting to get these uniforms done by a Manila based clothes designer. These suggested uniform cuts were once paraded by unwilling models who looked as if the modeling show was an excruciating sacrifice and that their reward would only come from heaven when they have expired from this troubled earth.

There were some computations presented, insinuating that four pairs of uniforms would cost just P3,000.00 for the men and a bit more for the women. A pair would mean a polo barong and pants designated to be worn each day from Monday through Thursday. So the pair would cost P750.00 each. Well that's cheap if we are to believe what these witches are saying and they must be cooking a powerful brew. Or rather, they may have create a powerful potion that would fabricate those uniforms from hay or some similar material that can cut their production cost way way to low!

In the late 1990s when the Provincial Government mandated new sets of uniforms and released money directly to us, I had purchased the cloths at P200.00/cut from the designated store and had the uniform guide photo copied and brought this to Yardley at Iznart St., beside the YMCA building. The labor cost me P350.00 for the barong and I bought some matching pairs of pants from G-- City at P350.00/pair during a sale. Each pair therefore cost me P900.00. I made sure I had complete sets of uniforms as required and provided for by the amount released to me by the Iloilo Provincial Government. I had a few hundred pesos left despite having complied with the requirements and of course that meant some savings for me.

My co-employees had similar uniforms although they had bigger savings since they also got copies of the design but commissioned their own tailors to make their uniforms where they paid lower labor cost. It was not anyform as insinuated by these witches and we heard no complaints from key officers and even the Governor.

When the next Governor came, a bigger ogre emerged and he together with some witches ordered to employees to get their uniform from a preferred source who proceeded to supply substandard tops that tore and faded in just a few months. These ogres and witches had definitely made a killing at the expense of the employees!

I always have a logical mind and I am not one to get emotional about an issue. I am only wondering how a Manila based designer can manufacture a set for just P750.00! Have they found a source of good quality cloth that will cost them just P150.00/set? Will they allow themselves to accept P200.00 for the labor of each set of uniform tops? And tailor a pair of pants for just P400.00? I may be poor but I am not poor at computations. My math teachers once said that I can tick off numbers even without the use of a calculator.

My teachers at UPLB when I was taking my agri-business course may have taught me wrong economics. May be I am wrong. Maybe they can really fabricate a good set of uniform for just P750.00.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Mrs. Corazon Arce Granada decided to venture into the bakery business in her hometown in Tigbauan, Iloilo when she saw that bakeries seem to be making money. With just a bit of background in baking she proceeded to hire a baker who helped her set up the business. She decided on a gas oven that can accommodate 12 plates but after a few months of operation, she realized that she is not making money mainly due to the high cost of gas as a fuel.

With her gas oven, she was producing bread from three bags of flour but using about one (1) large tank of gas. She estimates her total cost of production, from flour to delivery costs at more than 90% thus giving her a slim margin. Since she was recording her operations quite diligently, she realized that she was not actually making money and instead, she was slowly getting into more debts. She computed that she would be spending almost one million pesos in one year just for gas alone and instead of making money, she would only sustain the business of the gas distributor.

She searched for alternatives and her baker suggested that she shift to a rice hull fired oven similar to that of a bakery next town. The baker also looked for the mason who built the bakery. Ands got the younger brother to build the oven for her. They made estimates and figured that they will be spending about P500,000.00 for an oven that can bake 32 plates or trays at the same time. Her baker said that that such an oven can use about 60 to 70 sacks of rice hulls weighing about 15 kilograms daily. With her delivery truck and her driver and helper gathering the rice hulls from a nearby rice mill, she estimates the cost of one sack of rice hull at about one peso so her daily fuel cost would be P70.00, processing 10 to 12 bags of flour!

She found a baker who also worked as a mason and has built a rice hull oven in the nearby town of Oton, Iloilo. Since a pure brick oven would cost her more than P1,000,000.00, she decided on a hybrid of bricks and concrete which would deteriorate faster than the pure brick model since concrete cannot withstand the continuous high heat generated by the furnace. Anyway she said that she can always make the repairs as soon as parts get deteriorated.

As soon as her oven was finished she commenced operations and was very happy that she made the right decision. The low cost of operations enabled her to compete with the other bakeries and even expanded deliveries to other towns in her area since she can now afford to spend on diesel for her delivery trucks. For the past 7 years, she had been profitably operating, thanks to her rice hull oven.

But the oven has another surplus- the carbonized rice hulls generated. With careful manipulation, the bakers can produce carbonized rice hulls instead of the white ash which can also be used as soil conditioner. Carbonized rice hull is highly absorbent so that when applied in the soil at the rate of 40 to 50 bags per hectare, it can vastly improve water absorption at the same time helping encourage the return of microorganisms because of the wet conditions.

“In fact, an integrated agri-venture here had been buying our carbonized rice hulls which they use as odor absorbent and later sold as soil conditioner to farmers in the area. I had also been offered by a researcher to venture on the soil conditioner industry so that I can add value to my carbonized rice hulls”, said Corazon.

Rice hulls are considered a waste by the rice mills and tons of this resource can be found all over the province of Iloilo which ranks fourth in the entire country in rice production. So far, there are fewer than 20 bakeries and business in Iloilo Province using rice hulls as fuel despite the fact that rice hull ovens would cost only about 20% of the fuel cost using conventional gas ovens. The main problem is the initial investment cost which would run to about One Million Pesos. “But the investment can be recovered in only a year or two if one ventures seriously into the bakery business”, again said Corazon.

“One main problem converting to rice hull ovens is the lack of masons or oven makers who can make perfect rice hull fed ovens. There are many who tried but their models do not generate the right heat and the bread baked are not of high quality that's why only a few bakeries would want to shift to rice ovens”, she added.

There is also the problem of storing the fuel which is bulky and takes much space. However, Corazon and her bakers solved the problem by putting the fuel in sacks and stocked neatly in the front store room. She also uses the excess carbonized rice hulls as land fill in her property nearby. Once the technology for an EM-fortified soil conditioner is perfected, she plans to commercialize immediately, thereby creating another income base for her and her family, at the same time solving waste disposal effectively.


A three (3) hectare hybrid Red Lady papaya farm is now rising in Brgy. Hibao-an, San Miguel, Iloilo. Learning from their past costly errors, the owners and their farm manager are painstakingly building a farm that they hope will be profitable and can help other farmers in the province to avoid the costly mistake they had made.

Costly Mistake:

Having heard from others how a papaya farm can reap a windfall, the owners, Mr. Gerard Camiña and his wife, Minviluz (nee Saludes), enlisted the help of their relative Noel Velez to start a papaya farm in the three (3) hectares of idle land that they own. Immediately, they built a farm house and started planting papaya using seeds that they got from a farmer in nearby Leon town, noted for the small scale vegetables and fruit farms. They became interested in the fruits of the papaya which they thought would likewise give them the same productivity they saw at the farms they visited. Little did they know that the plants were already too inbred and that succeeding generations of planting materials taken from the beautiful looking mother plants will have deteriorated badly resulting to sickly plants with small fruits and thus poor returns for them.

They started to plant in mid-2009 and by early 2010, they realized their mistake when the first fruits came out. They then decided to learn as much as they can and went to many places like the Penalosa farm in Bacolod where they learned organic farming and the use of windmills and other appropriate equipment like the windmill to draw water without the need for electricity. They also went to the Harbest Agribusiness Center in Rosario, Cavite to learn the right methods of commercial vegetable farming last May 2010.

Starting Right This Time Around:

At the Harbest Agribusiness Center, the Camiña couple and Noel spent six (6) days learning everything they can through hands on and lecture course that covered everything about commercial vegetable farming from plot making, seedling start, basal fertilizing, trellis making and the use of the plastic multch which saves much labor in weed control and other maintenance activities. Farm work starts very early and by 9:00 AM, the trainees take breakfast and proceed to the lecture hall for lectures until 3:00 PM and again back to the farm for more farm work and to apply what they have learned in the class rooms.

As soon as they got back, Noel proceeded to implement his new learnings and got the farm right this time. They did not hesitate to cut down the papaya plants that have just started to bear fruits which Noel said were really frustrating. Plots were made so that the future papaya plants will be elevated and water can be introduced at will and thus avoid water logging which is the most dreaded situation for papaya.

This time, the Camiñas bought hybrid F1seeds of Red Lady from Harbest Agribusiness at P1,700 per packet of 350 seeds. Since the farm will need about 3,000 seedlings, they invested 9 packets and started the seedlings in a nursery using the method learned from the seed company. Noel started the seedlings in batches so that they will not be over grown at planting. He learned to organize his activities so that he will not need outside labor which is quite difficult to find in the neighborhood. Besides, planting the hybrid seedlings need some expertise and that he cannot afford to have mortality at planting because of the expensive investment involved. Each seed cost about P4.85 each and with labor and other costs, each seedling may run to about P15.00 per.

As soon as he came back from his training, Noel had immediately applied his new skills by planting the Galaxy strain of ampalaya which is now bearing large fruits due to the proper care and management taught by the experts at the training center. He has also planted sweet or bell pepper also using the plastic mulch they bought at harbest.

With the organized way that Noel is managing the farm, the Camiñas are confident that they will realize their dream of establishing a dream farm that will both be profitable and become a relevant factor in the agriculture and economic development of Iloilo.


Gawad Kalinga Villages is a concept that has breathed a life of its own. Starting as a project of well-meaning citizens led by the Couples for Christ, it has now its own management structure and lately its projects have geometrically expanded because of the support from all over the world.
But one major problem that faces the leadership of all local GK projects is the dislocation of the beneficiaries and the need for food to sustain them in the early phases of their adjustments. Some leaders address this by continued food support and dole-outs, sometimes misinterpreted by the beneficiaries to the point of lethargy where they no longer strive to earn and provide for their families’ food and other needs.
The leadership of the local GK and the local government of Barotac Viejo in Iloilo Province realized this early. Although the majority of the beneficiaries came from the nearby barangay of San Geronimo, the village is located some two kilometers from the center and there is a big waste of time traveling from their new homes to their place of work, mostly as laborers of the rice, corn and sugarcane farms.
The village was once planted to sugarcane. The municipal government of Barotac Viejo led by Mayor Raul “Boboy” C. Tupas, purchased the land as their counterpart when the GK National Secretariat offered to build a village of 130 houses. The long term use of the land for sugarcane, has practically rendered the land infertile. The area was also bare of trees since sugarcane needs full sunlight to achieve high yield.
Being the poorest of the poor, there are many cases of malnutrition among the beneficiaries and their children. Early on, Mayor Boboy Tupas realized this dilemma and egged his technical people to find ways to solve this problem. A rapid assessment of the growing village showed that the villagers’ concept of beautifying their homes is to plant ornamentals. But they went as far as the town center, 5 kilometers away, to buy their vegetables and other staples.
So, Mayor Boboy Tupas discussed to the community and the technicians of the Agriculture Office, the models he observed in some urban areas he visited. He said that vegetables can be planted almost anywhere and even the landscaping can be made out of the vegetables and other food crops. So the community responded and started to remove their ornamentals, mostly euphorbias, and replaced them with vegetables.
The vacant lots are also being made productive. A beneficiary proudly told the author that she has already earned almost P10,000.00 in the less than one year that they relocated in the village. Her cadios (pigeon peas) earned her not less than P2,000.00 sometime in December. Her glutinous corn planted in about 500 sq. meters, was bought by a trader at P1,500.00 as a standing crop for sale as green corn in the bus terminal of Barotac Viejo. She earns daily from her vegetable patch planted to eggplant, saluyot (corchurus spp.), camote (sweet potato), upland kangkong, gabi (taro) and ampalaya.
Mr. Jesus Balila, Municipal Agriculturist, says that his office is committed to help the beneficiaries as they belong to the least privileged sector of farm workers. Now that they have their homes, they are now focused on providing a better life to their families. By having a more stable livelihood, the parents can send their children to school. His office is now helping them by teaching and guiding them in organic farming technologies and intensive farming systems so that even in a small area, they are able to earn enough.
“We still have many things to do”, says Mayor Boboy Tupas. “We have now 32 houses and will eventually have 135 in all. This means a working force of about 250 or even more. We have to find ways to provide a sustainable livelihood for all of them. One of our mandate in the Local Government Code is to provide economic opportunities for our constituents and more than others, these beneficiaries belonging to the poorest of the poor needs our help”.
“We have already sourced some funds for livelihood from our friends here and abroad. But we are looking to the right mix of projects that will ensure sustainability so that the seed money will become their foundation for a bright future. We have in mind agri-based processing like the banana chips, korniks and other food processing ventures. We have tapped the Central Philippine University in Iloilo City, thru their Appropriate Technology Center to provide us with technologies to use rice hull as a source of fuel. We have also tapped other government agencies for new and appropriate technologies in processing”, thus said Mayor Tupas.
From the looks of it, the beneficiaries of the Gawad Kalinga Village in Barotac Viejo look forward to a really bright future!


I first learned of probiotics in early 2003 when a group of technicians from the Department of Agriculture technicians based at the BPI Regional Station in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. At first, I was skeptical in adopting the technologies because we were simply given handouts on how to make Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMO), Fermented Fruit Juice (FFJ), Lactic Acid Preparation, Oriental Herbal Mix, etc. We were only given assurances by these technicians that they indeed work since these were originated by a Japanese doctor way back in the 1930s. The probiotic system is part of the natural farming system which is being advocated by DA.
At that time, I was the main anchor, researcher and script writer of a rural life-oriented radio program based in Iloilo City. I had to try using the technology which if proven to be effective, I can advocate its wide spread use. By the middle of that year, I had already tried all the technologies but settled on IMO and Lactic Acid for my animals and poultry and had made my own method of making lactic acid which is even simpler and without cost. I also innovated on the method and materials in making IMO.
Simultaneously, I started using herbs for my animals since by then I had compiled an information base of various herbs and plants. I had also set up as small garden of there plants in the limited space of our subdivision home.
The first six months of probiotics and herbs had encouraged me to use them widely. Initially, I followed the dose and mode of administration taught by the DA technicians but later, I found that you can reduce or add more for better effect and faster growth.
My method of making IMO is rather simplified. I cook about 500 grams of broken rice (binlud) like a porridge. When cooled, I spread it on a shallow tray about 5 cm. thick and cover it lightly with a sheet of paper loosely bound by a rubber band to keep off insects but allowing beneficial microorganisms to populate the culture medium. After 4 to 7 days, I harvest the culture and mix thoroughly an equal amount of molasses. After3 more days, I start using my preparation which is effective up to 2 months if stored at room temperature or longer if placed in a refrigerator.
For my chickens, I mix about ½ teaspoon IMO and 1 tablespoon herbal mix juice per liter of water and give this as their only source of water. For pigs and dogs, I give two tablespoons per feeding or four tbs. daily, no matter the size. IMO has no overdose. For other birds and animals, I just mix IMO on their ration about 3-4 tbs. per kilo of slurry.
To keep the surroundings and the cage of my dog odorless, I mix 2 tbs. IMO per ten liters of water and wet the area by blanket spraying. Like the lactic Acid preparation, I can attest that IMO solution can get rid of the smell effectively. IMO has also helped my gardening by speeding up the decomposition of organic matter. I simply pile grasses and other organic materials like cartons, paper and sawdust in an unused area then wet the mass with diluted IMO every week to keep the pile moist. In three months, the organic matter has fully decomposed and ready for use.
Frequent spraying of IMO on the garden soil, according to the technicians, is said to revive beneficial soil microorganisms and I can attest to this fact because my soil has become more fertile despite its continued planting and without addition of chemical fertilizers. All I add is the decomposed organic materials and the regular spraying of IMO on the soil. As the organic material of my small garden increased, so did the population of native earthworms.
During that session with the DA technicians, we were taught the use of garlic and similar herbs in farming. But knowing the expense using those spices, I knew it was not practical for use in the farm so I experimented on concoctions using various herbs for anything from animal health to pest control. Before the third quarter of 2003, I was able to standardize several preparations for different applications that became part of my system.
For chickens, I mix equal amounts of fresh guava leaves, lagundi, gotu kola, and pink periwinkle (rosas de baybayon) with a two to three sprigs of peppermint then pound them into a pulp to extract its juice. Either I use a tablespoon of the juice or the whole pounded material with the IMO in one liter of water. Since 2003, I was able to stop using antibiotics altogether for prevention. I use antibiotics only when diseases strike and somehow its efficacy is high.
For my dog, I add one-half cup of malunggay leaves daily to the fish and rice porridge that I prepare. I have stopped feeding meat and give her dog food sparingly as a form of reward, especially during her obedience training. A cross of Belgian Malenois and black Labrador, she has maintained a slight form but is overly active and healthy.
As a general cleanser, disinfectant and sterilizer for chicken, hog, dog pens and surroundings, I use 5 cups of pounded herbs consisting of hagonoy, andrographis paniculata (a bitter herb), tanglad and, neem fruits and leaves mixed in ten liters of water. I add a teaspoon of chlorine powder to the mixture and blanket spray in the whole area. This is followed a day after with a spraying of diluted IMO to help revive the beneficial microorganisms in the area to counter destructive microorganisms that might populate after the disinfection.
For the last four years, the mortality of my chickens was very low even if I do not immunize for viral diseases like New Castle Disease and fowl pox. I cut my antibiotic use by 80 percent and my investment is largely on feeds and vitamins. My dog enjoys its feed of porridge made of fish, rice and malunggay. My maintenance is low and I seldom invest in commercial disinfectants except in extreme cases. All because I have adopted the use of probiotics and herbs. Try them too and you will see!
1/2 kg. broken rice (binlud)
1 kg brown sugar or molasses
Cooking pot
Shallow tray
Old newspaper
Straw for tying
Wide mouth bottles for storing
  1. Cook broken rice into a porridge, cool and spread on shallow tray about 1 inch thick;
  2. Cover with newspaper and lightly tie to ensure that no insects will crawl in;
  3. Expose in shady portion of kitchen or in nearby bamboo clump or trees;
  4. After 4-7 days, remove and place in wide-mouth container. Add molasses or brown sugar and mix thoroughly. Keep lightly covered for 3-5 days. Start using thereafter for up to 2 months which by then, the beneficial organisms may become dormant;
Chickens, turkeys and ducks: Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of IMO to 1 liter clean water and give to chickens every day continuously. Use for watering plants and soil excess mixture in the afternoon and provide fresh mixture next day;
Pigs, goat, sheep and cattle: Give 2 tablespoons per 25 kg. body weight mixed in either wet or dry feeds both for morning and afternoon feeding;
Plants: Add 100-250 ml IMO per 16 liters of water and use as blanket spray on soil every week to activate beneficial bacteria in the soil. Add 50 ml IMO to herbal mixture of pounded leaves of garlic vine, onions, garlic and other aromatic leaves to activate beneficial bacteria in plants (aromatic herbs will serve as insect repellants for the crops)
  1. Gather fresh leaves of plants and herbs like guava, lagundi, pink periwinkle (rosas de baybayon), gotu kola;
  2. Measure equal amounts of about 1 cup each and add about 3-4 stalks of peppermint or supermint. Pound to a pulp until liquid is easy to extract by squeezing. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week;
  3. To use add 1 teaspoon of the herbal juice per liter of water already mixed with IMO