Rebel returnees and Philippine Army unite for farming

Colonel Ferdinand T. Barandon

403rd Infantry Brigade Commander Ferdinand T. Barandon gave an inspirational message to the training participants where he emphasized the importance of partnership with other agencies like ATI and Greenminds Inc.

MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon---The recently concluded “Training on Organic Medicinal Herbs and Spices Production and Utilization” at the Umanika Eco-Cultural Farm, a Learning Site (LS) partner of ATI, owned by Mr. Reynaldo Gil Lomarda (aka “Datu Makadingding”) who is also the CEO of Greenminds, Inc. have been instrumental in teaching how to farm medicinal herbs and spices to a group of rebel returnees along with members of the Philippine Army.

Participated in by 30 rebel returnees who were members of the Bukas-Kalinaw Association and members of the Philippine Army from 403rd Infantry Brigade, the training was in response to the request of 403rd Infantry Brigade in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. The training was organized and mounted by High Value Commercial Development Program (HVCDP) point person Moisa Niña D. Catiil-Paglinawan.

“Sundalo, ako nga dating aktibista, ug mga former rebels, pareho ra man ta og katuyuan. Lahi-lahi lang ta og pamaagi” (soldier, as a former activist myself and former rebels, we have the same purpose. Only that we have different methods).”, Datu Makadingding in his message said. He encouraged every participants to engage into organic farming especially in herbs and spices production since there is a good market for it and that Greenminds Inc. is in need of contract growers to supply the growing demands of their best selling products like dried herbs, salt blends, gourmet chips and organic peanuts.

Colonel Ferdinand T. Barandon INF (GSC) PA, Commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, gave an inspirational message to the participants where he emphasized that through partnership with other agencies like ATI and other organizations like Greenminds Inc., they connect their rebel returnees beneficiaries to the right people who are knowledgeable in agriculture and stressed that "taos puso kayong tutulungan" (with heartfelt sincerity) in transforming lives from arms to farms.

The participants actively joined hands-on activities like soil media preparation, herbs propagation and processing & utilization of herbs and spices. Training manual, herb seedlings, pruning shear, as well as hand trowels were given to them as post training support.

Also making an appearance was ECHOstore founder Pacita “Chit” Juan who gave an inspiring message to the participants.

The said training transpired on March 4-6, 2020 at the Umanika Eco-Cultural Farm in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. (with reports from Anthonette June Russel & Moisa Niña D. Catiil-Paglinawan)