“I feel very happy when I see my crops growing and I anticipate a big harvest,” Evelyn said. “I cannot really explain it, but I feel happy looking at the rice I planted.”
Evelyn Magistino from Hapao in Hungduan, Ifugao, had every reason to migrate and find a more comfortable life for herself elsewhere. For most of her life, the world had seemed to her less than welcoming.
“Nobody paid any attention to us,” Evelyn said.
Like many of her peers, her fate is inextricably tied to her ancestral land.
“We have owned our farm since I was a child,” she recalled. “My mother inherited it from my grandfather.
She passed it on to us.”
Unlike most, she stayed despite lack of comfort and the toughness of the road that lay before her. “Farming is very hard work. Only rice can grow on our land. It is very laborious and tiring.”
Fortunately, she loves farming. “I feel very happy when I see my crops growing, and I anticipate a big harvest,” Evelyn said. “I cannot really explain it, but I feel happy looking at the rice I planted.”
She is also a natural leader.
“I am a farmer, but sometimes I am asked to represent our organization. They trust me in that role.” Part of this role is evaluating whether modern equipment is suitable to their community, and then introducing the change. “In the past, we employed purely manual labor. Now we use new technology, such as like microtillers and threshers. We can work faster.”
The changes that Evelyn helped introduce brought benefits not only on the production of heirloom rice but on attitudes as well. “Our traditional rice is becoming more popular, especially when we started exporting. Farmers like to plant heirloom rice now.”
Asked how she feels about the attention they are getting today, Evelyn’s face beamed with pride.
“I can see now that our tradition, our rice, are truly special.”