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Update #2: 2-25-03 Knightsbridge Mission to the Philippines

After the first leg of this trip, with Green Empowerment, reviewing micro-hydro projects and community development work on Negros Island and Mindanao, we have now moved the second leg of the mission, on Mindoro Island.

A wonderfully fine gentleman, Father Flynn, has been working with the indigenous Mangyan tribe for many years, with his first projects dating back to 1979. His efforts have been to counteract the negative affects of the programs which give handouts, and instead work on programs where the communities are taught they can be responsible for their own destinies through learning that there are other ways to do things. Father Flynn's approach is to show them that they have grown up with the idea that there is "one door" to the solution to how to manage things, and he is showing them that there are "not only other doors, but also windows that need to be opened to see what can be done to make themselves independent and sustainable in today's world."

Ed Pooley, a good friend of Father Flynn's and of Knightsbridge joined us on this trip. He also very interested in helping the indigenous tribes on Mindoro, which he, like Father Flynn has been doing for over 20 years. Ed Pooley first got involved with Father Flynn and the Mangyans in 1979 when, as a marine, he helped airlift a herd of water buffalo from the low lands to the mountain areas for a group of Mangyan farmers.

Knightsbridge, on our last trip to Mindoro, had previously helped Father Flynn in his efforts to set up an economic and community projects planning group. Since this summer he has established this group and will soon be appointed as the official consultant / advisor in economic development to the Board of Directors of the group representing all seven Mangyan tribes.

Mindoro has been heavily deforested by illegal logging, mostly between 1970 and 1990. The logging has ceased, primarily because there are no more trees. The entire way of life for the Mangyans has changed as a result, with the changes to the watershed, productivity of the soil, and ability to survive as hunters and gatherers. In order to keep going as a viable community, the tribes need to adapt to these changed conditions. These require new information and support in reforestation, agriculture, and community development.

Father Flynn showed us many of the communities as we travelled around the entire island, seeing the different climates and terrain that the Mangyans have to deal with in their various tribal areas. In many of these locations, the roads are paths cut through rocky hills, only passable with a strong 4 wheel drive vehicle, and that is in the dry season.

To get to Mindoro, we first had to drive a couple of hours south of Manilla to a ferry station, wait a couple of hours for the ferry, and then ride the ferry for another couple of hours. We spent the first night in a small town, Calapan, where the ferry landed.

Then, Monday morning at 4 a.m. we got started down the road around the island visiting various areas, where Father Flynn has worked both as parish priest and community development person for years

At our first stop, we hiked for about an hour back into hills to a plot of land Father Flynn is helping the local tribe here to develop, to grow various crops for seed stock. Their plan is to make the seed stock available to the local farmers so that they can get individual vegetable farms going in their areas- both for local consumption,and for a means of consumption. This small farm (about 6 acres) is fortunate to be located near a source of water that is currently used to gravity feed water to at least three communities down hill from them. There should be sufficient water there to irrigate their seed crops, although some modification to the water catchment structure will be required, and more piping will have to be completed.

We then visited a site where there is an artesian source of water feeding a fairly significant stream. It is near, but below the elevation of, several communities of up to 100 families. They have to come to this stream from quite a distance to get their household use water and drinking water. We investigated the possibilities here of installing a ram pump, of the type we learned about on Negros Island last week. Rough measurements were made of head and flow to start some preliminary discussions on the feasability of this idea with AIDFI on Negros. If feasable, this would be a long-term project, but could provide water for drinking, washing, and vegetable garden type drip irrigation to the communities in this area.

Photos Attached to this email are:

  • 5092: Father Flynn and Ed Pooley in a meeting with the tribal leaders of the 7 Mangyan tribes, discussing the community developmnt arrangements.
  • 5094: On the trail to the seed farm.
  • 5099: Ed and Father Flynn working with farmers
  • 5100: Water source for the communities
  • 5105: Takeing measurements at potential water source.

Thanks for your support. We have one more day of visiting sites in Mindoro before we head back to Manilla.

Walt Ratterman, with Ed Pooley and Father Flynn
Mindoro, Philippines
February 25, 2003


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