Free concert by local artists spotlight farmers’ plight
MANILA, Philippines — Peasant organizations, allied groups, and musicians highlighted Filipino farmers’ plight in a fair trade and free concert "BAGSAKAN: Stand With Farmers" at the Quezon Memorial Circle on Sunday, October 20.
“Local bands and performers are showing their solidarity with the farmers who are suffering from low palay prices brought about by rice importation and continued attacks on the agricultural sectors,” Bagsakan coordinator Angelo Suarez said.
Farmgate prices of unhusked rice or palay have plummeted in recent months, going much lower than their production cost. Farmers have said the rice tariffication law has facilitated the flow of more imported grains to the detriment of local produce.
The event coincided with the first anniversary of the Sagay massacre, where 9 farmers were killed by some 40 armed men in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. (READ: 9 farmers killed at Negros Occidental hacienda)
Bringing along local organic crops and indigenous products, the farmers sold their produce to park visitors and Bagsakan concert attendees.
“In doing this, they are able to sell their products in a fair market price directly to the consumers. At the same time, buyers can hear the stories of the farmers about their hardships in producing food for the country,” Suarez shared.
Some of the performers at the concert include Bullet Dumas, The General Strike, Pink Cow, WUDS, Ang Bandang Shirley, We are Imaginary, The Geeks, Plagpul, The Jerks, Rusty Machine, Lady 1, Identikit, and BLKD X CALIX.
“Nandito po ako ngayon para sa mga magsasaka nating mga bayani (I am here now for our farmers, our heroes),” said singer-songwriter BP Valenzuela before performing a set of electronic pop songs.
“Iyang mga gulay, saging at suha, organiko po iyan, galing sa aming pinaglalabang lupa na binubungkal po,” said 41-year-old farmer Jovy Torres at the fair trade adjacent to the concert stage. (These vegetables, bananas and pomelo are organic, from the land we’re fighting for.)
According to Torres, who comes from Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, they constantly face harassment and attempts of land grabbing from commercial entities.
“Humihingi po kami ng tulong at suporta sa lahat, lalong lalo na po sa gobyerno: 'yung subsidyo para sa mga magsasaka upang sa ganun hindi na po tayo mag-iimport ng ating mga pagkain (We ask for help and support from everyone, especially from the government: subsidy for farmers so that we don’t have to import our food anymore),” Torres said. – Rappler.com
Jaia Yap is a Rappler intern with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He tweets at @jaiayap.