Food Sovereignty Launching

Food Sovereignty Launching

March 15, 2022. This is the day we officially launched  the food sovereignty campaign through the support of our partners from the Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS). But for me, who has been with Global Seed Savers Philippines (GSSP) for less than a year, this was an important day for a different reason. It was the first time I personally met the farmers whom I’ve only seen in photos. It was also the first time I came to Tublay, and the first time I experienced first-hand the work of GSSP. I was both excited and anxious, but also, determined to observe and learn the ways of the community.

The activities were pretty simple, with the blessing of the soil and seed as major highlights. We had planned for a ritual to express our gratitude to the land and the seeds that enable our farmers to continue producing food for our communities. And of course, there was a lot of music, dancing, and food! Here are some photos and videos from the event: 

This, however, was not a simple celebration. It was also a coming together of two communities, both devastated by typhoons in the recent past, one that has recovered, the other, still in the process of recovering. A major objective of the activity was to bridge the connection between the farmers of Tublay and the farmers of Cebu. As you may already know, Cebu has recently been devastated by Typhoon Odette. But this is not the first time that farmers in the Philippines have had to rebuild their farms (and lives) after a typhoon. In previous years, it was the farmers of Benguet who needed help. Farmers from Cebu readily sent their seed stocks to help re-enliven the farms of Benguet. Now it is the Benguet farmers’ turn to help Cebu rise up from the devastation of Odette.

Through this event, the farmers of Benguet sent their compatriots from the South, prayers of strength, healing, and nourishment so that they may overcome their current challenges. In one part of the program, Karen, our Philippines Executive Director, asked all attendees to stand and touch the seeds and the soil which was going to be sent to Cebu. She said, this was so we could share our “microbes and microorganisms” to our partner farmers in Cebu.[1]Perhaps in future posts, we will have the opportunity to discuss the microbiome and its connection to agriculture. For now, we hope you read this resource to better understand the value of this … Continue reading This held a lot of meaning for me.

And though simple the entire event was, it led me to a lot of realizations and lessons. For one, it helped me realize how the land, and agriculture in general, represent the interconnectedness of Filipinos. Agriculture and all the traditions and knowledge systems built around it are what makes our communities thrive.

Another realization I had during the activity was this: farmers recovered from the climate disruptions they have experienced in recent years because they have not forgotten the spirit of bayanihan.

“This spirit is indeed the heart and soul of our work at Global Seed Savers! Seeds, seed saving, building a community committed to sustainably feeding itself and resisting the ever growing stronger corporate and chemical take over of our food system, is only possible when done together…in community….with a true spirit of bayanihan!”



— Sherry Manning, Nourish Celebrates Bayanihan Spirit

As I say these words, I realize that there are so many ideas, concepts, and insights here that would need time and space to unpack. Perhaps, in future articles, we  would be able to expound on these ideas as they appear in the Philippine context. For now, however, I want to center on this one idea: There is so much to be done in terms of food sovereignty in the Philippines, but our communities already have the foundations to make it happen. Our communities have all the elements to make food sovereignty a reality in the country. It is only a matter of utilizing the knowledge we already have, and remembering the power they hold. As I leave Tublay, a single thought echoes in my mind: “The heart of the Filipino is in the right place”. As our world is currently in turmoil, I realize just how valuable this is. Though many of us are caught up in feelings of turmoil and hopelessness, the community and the lessons of the past ensures that our hearts will continue to beat together, in search of a better future.

Finding Beauty After the Storm

Finding Beauty After the Storm

What beauty can we find in the ocean of fallen trees, among the scattered debris of shattered houses? Can we find beauty in the midst of this chaos?
As an eye witness to this typhoon it is easy to be swayed when seeing the extensive damages. It is hard not to feel devastated in these situations. This disaster has left many families displaced, some lost their homes and livelihood, while others lost their loved ones. Life has been difficult since the typhoon made landfall nearly 6 weeks ago!
However, when the roads re-opened and we were finally able to visit our partner farmers to provide initial relief including: dry goods, water, hygine kits, cash assistance, and solar lights. I was struck by the fact that despite the devastation, our farmers still radiated hope. Our farmers know that like all other storms of the past, they will rise up again. Hope is alive, love is alive, and light is alive. This is the beauty that I saw amidst this disaster.

Together, each of can us can play a small part to help pick up the p
ieces left scattered by Typhoon Odette. We can help clear the debris and start laying new, and better foundations for a sustainable tomorrow. I am grateful to be doing this through Global Seed Savers response and I hope you will join us in these efforts!
Typhoon Odette (Rai) Recovery Fund

Typhoon Odette (Rai) Recovery Fund

On Thursday, December 16th Category 5 Super Typhoon Odette (International name Rai) pummeled the Philippines primarily hitting the Visayas Region.

We are still waiting for word from all our partner farmers in Cebu Province. It has been three days of no contact so far. The damage to the province is extensive. We have heard from Harry and we are so glad he and the team at Arapal Farm in Northern Cebu are ok. Initial reports are showing total home loss, extensive structural damage, and it is likely all our partner farmers’ crops are destroyed. Water and food are going to be a long term concern and local reports are now saying communities hardest hit may be without electricity for months.

Today we are launching a Long Term Recovery Fund to support our partner farmers affected by Typhoon Odette and the future storms we know are coming our way.. We are painfully aware this typhoon will be followed by others, repeatedly putting our partner farmers’ lives and livelihoods at risk.. All funds raised will go directly to supporting them as they rise, rebuild their lives, and replant their crops again, and again, and again. Through the LTRF we will deliver the following:

Immediate Relief

  • Hygiene Kits
  • Solar Lights
  • Water Filters
  • Dry goods as requested and needed

Long-Term Recovery

  • Seeds will be shared with our farmers and partner NGOs also hard hit
  • Extensive Structural Repairs
  • Continued Seed Library Development and the Safety Back-Up of Regional Seeds
  • Farm Infrastructure Improvements Using More Secure Building Practices

After the immediate recovery efforts are complete, Global Seed Savers/Philippines will be on the ground to assist farmers as they rebuild their lives and revive farm production, which includes ensuring access to locally adapted seeds that can withstand and adapt to the realities of these intensifying storms.

We are grateful for any support you can provide and will continue to send updates as we hear more news from our partner farmers in Cebu!

-Global Donations can be made on this page
(This site processes Philippines Pesos, via card).

Philippines Local Donations can me made to:

PH G-Cash via Karen Lee Hizola (Philippines Executive Director): 09275277370

Many Thanks,

Team GSS/P