Around Nueva Ecija

For a country that complains about population and poverty, we sure forget about our abundant natural resources. I’m fascinated to find places where there’s so much land and hardly any people. But we’re too complex, too underdeveloped, too disunited a people to solve our problems – that’s what I keep on hearing. We get caught up fighting among ourselves and forget what God has given to us. If only we can manage our resources for the benefit of our countrymen we can achieve what our neighbors have already achieved.

While I was traveling around Nueva Ecija (passing by Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac reaching as far as Nueva Viscaya) I saw what seemed to to be endless rice fields. Monotonous greens stretching for miles, enormous potential for agricultural growth. Countless flowing rivers and tributaries that drains to the pacific. Nature seem to provide a structure of support for the temporal needs of man – everything we ever need, our land could provide. We are truly blessed.

I must have been dreaming the whole time. The picturesque view of the great plains of Luzon was something that I really wanted to see this time of the year. The rice fields is at its greenest now –  later on,  it turns into fields of gold.

How beautiful the countryside is! After seeing this, how can you not want to leave our polluted metropolitan?

Tarlac, Nueva Ecija & Nueva Vizcaya: Luzon’s Heartland

I started asking myself, why is it that we could not produce enough rice  for our own people? Have we become so incompetent that for the most basic of our needs, we need the help of other countries?

Strange is that we have the world renowned research institution for rice and yet we’re the perennial losers in rice production. We made our neighbors self sufficient in rice production. But look at us – so dependent on imported rice.We help improve foreign production so we can import more? Obviously, somethings wrong with the picture.

I’m no expert on these matters, but a few years ago I started speaking with farmers. These conversations made me think about what’s been going on in our country’s farms and plantations. What they have to say changed a lot of what I believe and thought I knew in Philippine agriculture and life.

Farmers are not the problem. They’ll always work the fields no matter what. Given the right conditions and support, you can expect them to produce more. The shortage is caused by the mismanagement of our resources and corruption. Our leaders inability to carry out programs that promote and sustain production has been dragging our rice production to the pits.

The government needs to protect the farmers and provide them with the needed economic life support so they get the most from their labors. Farmer production is at its best when properly supported by government initiatives and when farmers are not cheated. When they have enough – they can take care of their families. Programs must be aimed at making it possible for the farmers to keep as much as they could when they sell. You don’t want them in welfare forever – improving their economic status and educating their children will eventually liberate them from poverty.

A farmer told me that they’re perhaps the most debt ridden workers in the country today. Everything they need, they have to “loan” first. Promising their creditors payment when crops have been harvested. If all things goes according to plan, they’ll have enough to pay those debts and what’s left they take home. Now, in the event that natural disaster destroys their fields (which happens a lot) they would have to wait for the next season so they can pay off their debts – and yes, they still owe what they loaned the previous planting season which has already incurred interest.

Irony is that the harder these people work the less they seem to get in return. Life is so hard and cruel for these people but you’ll be surprise to see them happy – always having a good laugh. They’re the happiest people I’ve ever met. They accept the cards that has been dealt to them. People like them makes it hard for someone like me to complain about my problems. For all the greed that exist in our society these days, these farmers reminds me of something noble, honest and beautiful. I’ll never lose hope in the Filipino for as long as they’re here with us.

A calm lake on top of a mountain somewhere in Nueva Vizcaya. The still waters reflects the nearby mountains.

The bridge was named after Antonio Luna who was murdered here in Cabanatuan.

Somewhere in Rizal, NE. Another town named after the hero.

People are trying to catch fishes here trapped in shallow pools. Some use electric poles that shocks fishes.

Taken while inside the bus.

High above the mountains of northern Luzon. Near Pantabangan lake.

Unlike the rivers that have brownish flowing water (it has been raining the past few days), this "batis" is crystal clear. I was told that its water is safe for drinking.

There was just so many of these rivers and tributaries in Nueva Ecija that I lost count. This was one of the widest.

These rice fields, or tubigan as farmers call it, is just about 20 to 30 km's north of Cabanatuan.

More of what appears to be an unending sea of greenery.

Hacienda Luisita is so huge the it have an exit in SCTEX.

Daylight almost out. Somewhere in Pampanga.

Lahar deposits, 10 years after (near Clark)...


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