Saturday, September 26, 2009

Visiting M'lang, the rice granary of North Cot

Going to a place for the first time could be a wondrous adventure. Much more if you are with your friends. But doing it alone is another matter. It is like being thrown to an entirely different place and with no one you know, it is uncomfortable.

But having this kind of work in an NGO, research institution for that matter is a challenge for me. As a researcher , I need to be resourceful. I need to be creative enough in my data gathering. It takes necessary skills and interpersonal skills in order for the people to be at ease with you. I need to personally investigate issues that I have to talk to and push for other sectors to support for.

You learn a lot by talking with the people- farmers, fisherfolks, the taxi driver. Talking with them social concerns like food security, poverty, hunger, corruption, you'll realized these people knows so much than you do. The talk is spontaneous. As a researcher, it is your duty to make your participants at ease for an easy sharing of information. Staying in the community is also a must. As for my research on public investment of Local Government Unit (LGU) in local rice production has just started, I choose M'lang North Cotabato as one of the research locale.


I was lucky, it's harvest time!

M'lang is one of the highest rice producing municipality together with Midsayap and Kabacan in North Cotabato. North Cotabato, on the other hand, is a consistent top ten rice producing province. I went to University of Southern Mindanao for a meeting with different networks for preparation for the World Food Day Celebration on Oct. 13. Meeting at Kabacan then data gathering at M'lang afterwards. It's idea of hitting two birds in one stone. :)

Then I went to M'lang armed with only two contact numbers of people I will be interviewing- the municipal agriculturist and the president of the irrigated rice farmers association. I planned to stay in an inn or lodge but I was surprised to learn that a small room for an overnight stay costs P300! Quite expensive lodging for a rural area, I thought. My budget is quite small. I texted my contacts and asked them if they know some place more affordable. The farmer president called me and asked me to spend the night at their house instead. Oh! I just meet him on that day. I put aside my shame and accepted the offer.


The house where I stayed. Hospitality at its best. I love my host family!

While I was waiting for my the kind farmer, the municipal agriculturist who happens to be an aunt of a sorority sis called me and offered their home too. Such hospitality overwhelmed me.

I stayed on the area for three days and I am not dislocated for it is an Ilonggo-dominated area. I speak their language which is one important factor in conducting research. I enjoyed hearing deep Ilonggo words like ayam (dog), igma (eat), kanugon (what a waste). My family host was so sweet and they treated me like their own granddaughter.

I will be coming back maybe next week and I'm glad I had this assignment.

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