Issue of June 11, 2017
     
NEWS
Benguet
Kalinga
Mt. Province
 
OPINION
 

Plus Juan
 
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Recollection on coffee tradition and customs
by Fidelis Carino Hererra Lim

Many of the good things start over a cup of coffee.

Early this year, the top officials of Gourmet Farms Inc. made a courtesy call to Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso. Not only did the governor serve great Benguet coffee, he made everyone understand, in his unique modest way of communicating, the origins and traditions of Benguet coffee and the farmers.

The Benguet brew started strong.

My great grandmother Bayosa Cariño was a coffee grower. She inspired many, including myself. My advocacy work for the community of coffee farmers began when Gourmet Farms engaged me to be their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) coordinator.

For me, CSR is not simply a philanthropic exercise of corporations giving a part of their profits to a needy group. It is not what we do with profits. CSR, for me and for Gourmet Farms, is how we make our profits – in partnership with farmers and with a collective commitment to both heritage and the planet. In the weeks that followed after our initial meeting with the governor, I had several opportunities to talk with the farmers of the different municipalities in Benguet. Many of them are truly well educated. Some are retired government employees enamored with the dream of “retiring to be a simple farmer.” Many more trace their generations continuing what those who came before them did – be stewards of Nature and care for the coffee tree and its inviting cherry fruits. Their homespun wisdom and dedicated understanding of their craft and their heritage are simply amazing. I will no longer take for granted a Benguet coffee bean. It carries not just the essence of caffeine but the distilled story of my ancestors and my new source of a legitimate world view – the Ibaloi coffee growers – on life, farming, and business. Our values and aspirations converge.

I felt that we needed something to show that we had this convergence in values and aspirations. It should be a community event that has intrinsic value to the farmers and their heritage, and that was an Adivay cañao.

Coffee wakes up our senses.

Our big day came on May 24. Gourmet Farms organized its first-ever community-driven CSR activity, a cañao at the Wangal EC-Tourism Park in La Trinidad. The event was co-hosted by Pacalso. The cañao was a very authentic representation of the Ibaloy culture that made everybody who took part feel a unique sense of pride.

Coffee farmers from eight Atok, Bokod, Kapangan, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay were all there.

I was able to meet many of these farmers that we invited for the event through the governor and the Coffee Council. A lot of them expressed keen interest in participating in our CSR program and activities. Without a doubt, we have created a good foundation.

Pacalso’s presence is truly significant as he assured the support of the provincial government, a key element for the success of any CSR program. In his speech, he acknowledged that this is the first-time that a coffee company has taken this action of understanding the culture of the farmers and their worldview.

With the support of Gourmet Farm Founder and President Ernest Escaler, Chief Operating Officer Ginny T. De Villa and Corporate VP for HR and NTV Nanette Villanueva, my cousins who worked as a great team Judith Pavia, Christopher Camilo, Leo Camilo Ronnie Perez, and Toni Hamada this event achieved its full potential. It created a unique opportunity for all of us to feel as one community with shared values, and aspiration. We shared a meal and a drink of the best tapuey, danced together to the beat of the gangsa and the solibao and lifted our collective prayers to the Creator.

Midland Courier, true to its tradition and commitment to the community of the North, covered the event and made sure that its impact will go beyond those present and reach the generations of the future wishing to enjoy true gourmet coffee.


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