Equipped with handweeders, sickles, backhoes and gloved hands, close to a total of 800 brown-shirt clad employees of the United Parcel Services (UPS) from Clark Airbase and Paranaque hubs led by SIBAT staff and cooperating farmers went about harvesting rice, trellising, transplanting, clearing up eggplant and tomato vegetable areas under sweltering heat or muddied trails at SIBAT’s Mangarita Organic Farm, in Capas Tarlac for five hours last October 4-5 and 18 -19 respectively.
Some groups make “sinamak” vinegar, salted eggs, biofertilizers or help harvest lemons. Others marvel walking through greenhouses first time and were awed by the efficiency of the drip fertigation systems and perimeter lighting powered by solar energy installed at the farm. This is part of the company’s annual Gobal Volunteering Day (GVD) celebration where UPS employees across the world come in drove and render five hours of volunteer work to a worthwhile initiative in a certain community. This year, UPS Philippines chose to spend their GVD at SIBAT’s Mangarita Organic Farm (MOF) to help enhance the different sustainable and integrated food production technology models and to get a taste of farm work as well.
“I will oblige my family never to waste a grain of rice from the plate, “ says operations supervisor Rommel after running through the rigors of rice harvesting and manual threshing. Assistant supervisor Milo further required all staff to run through the process of manual rice threshing before they proceed to partake the boodle lunch comprised of grilled tilapia, organic eggplants, “buro”, the luscious Capas “tinapa” and home-made “bagoong”. The employees were treated to lemon grass and kalamansi juice and Filipino rice-based desserts for snacks. “It’s so nice to see different vegetable varieties that I want to go back next time and learn more about farming for my retirement period,” says Angelo of transport division. Several families who enjoyed the farm setting and verdant surroundings vowed to go back to de-stress and savor organic food once more.
Several women assigned to “ sinamak” vinegar and salted egg making thought about starting a business while kids in tow were made to feed the ducks, chickens and fishing Tilapia in a pond, enjoying it so much that their parents have to grab them to board their buses on departure time.
SIBAT assured the UPS employees that the improvements they made in the farm and the several farm tools and implements they have donated contribute to building knowledge and capacities of farmers and groups undergoing trainings and largely in promoting sustainable agriculture. . The four-day UPS volunteering event was facilitated by SIBAT’s management and staff in cooperation with the Capas Organic Farmers Cooperative (COFC) which was developed by SIBAT to become model organic farmers in the area and further graced by the presence of local LGU members. The day was capped with a “Harvest mo Bili Mo” promo where employees picked and paid vegetables of their choice to bring home.