Sign IN >>
If each of us takes part in caring and sharing, the overwhelming challenge of poverty can be addressed. Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.

To Reap a Bountiful Harvest

by Gia Leanne Luga

Nestled on top of the mountain ridges of Toril, amidst hectares of fertile land, you’ll find a small community of Catigan farmers. Every single morning before the sun peeks out from the horizon, Jaime Severino and his neighbors would head out to the farms — tilling the soil, planting seeds, getting rid of weeds, and on some days, harvesting crops.

To ensure a good harvest, Jaime Severino and the rest of the Catigan farmers faithfully attend to the crops all year long.

Season after season, rain or shine, they would do the same backbreaking work — even years ago when Catigan didn’t have concrete roads, electricity or running water. Tatay Jaime recalls the irony of their lives back then: Their hard work reaped enough crops to feed a multitude, but they themselves were hungry, poor, and had little access to outside opportunities.

Their destinies took a turn in 2006 when Art Habana gave his portion of the land to the original tenant families, a symbol of gratitude for years of loyal service. GK came in, and Art’s US-based sister Sally Hafner solicited from her network to fund the homes. The Reyes-Munda family and the University of Mindanao added even more homes, and the result is GK Pueblo Antonio, a productive community of 72 families.

GK Pueblo Antonio, a productive community of 72 farmer families

As part of GK’s Bayan-anihan (Food Sufficiency) Program, each family was given seeds so they could grow crops in their individual plots. With the guidance of Bayan-anihan Coordinator Tante Adalla and his wife Dr. Candida Adalla, as well as the Department of Agriculture, the Catigan farmers yielded enough produce to forever bid hunger goodbye.

Citi employees harvest the first batch of purple yam (ube) with the Catigan farmers.

The families became such good stewards that soon after, GK productivity partners came in with commercial farming plans. New York-based Citi Foundation together with Citi Philippines were the first to realize the potential of commercial farming for these families. Strong advocates of enterprise development as a way to eliminate poverty, they funded the first purple yam (ube) production in 2011. Most of the harvest was bought by Selecta who is now financially supporting the even larger second production. Human Nature, in its commitment to make natural products from Philippine-sourced ingredients, is currently testing the feasibility of passion fruit and sunflower oil production.

>> Read more in "Ube Harvest Festival in Davao"

In sourcing raw ingredients for their ice cream, Selecta expands GK Pueblo Antonio’s 2nd purple yam (ube) production.

In the beginning, all Tatay Jaime had was a dream for the community to have proper homes and sustainable income that can send their children to school. At 67, he’s finally seeing those dreams come to pass. Instrumental to this is the Habanas’ generosity and GK being there to empower the community and connect them to partners. But all of this wouldn’t count much without the dedication of these farmers, which never faltered from the time when they owned none of the land to the time when they were given small vegetable plots up until today, when they have hectares of commercial farms to attend to.

At 67, Tatay Jaime is seeing the realization of his dream for the community to have proper homes and sustainable income that can send their children to school.

Through it all, Tatay Jaime believes that it was never about how little or how much they had. “Ang masaligan sa gamay nga butang, masaligan sad sa dako.” (Whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much). After all, if we’re good stewards of whatever we’re given, God will open the doors and entrust us with so much more.


"To Reap a Bountiful Harvest" was featured on Page 19 of THE COURAGE TO CARE: GK Annual Report (January 2011 - June 2012). You can download the full report here.

Gawad Kalinga (GK) is too big a story for one person to tell, and it wouldn’t be complete without the partners who have been with us throughout the years. You too can be part of this mission of ending poverty. To help build more communities like this, click here.

Who we are | FAQs | Archive | Contact Us
Copyright 2014 GK1WORLD All rights reserved | designed by Gawad Kalinga Marketing Team