by Jane C. Mangalus
Adamson University played host last March 9, 2009 to four farmer groups who were part of the Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Hinarang Farmers’ Pilgrimage for CARP Extension with Reforms or CARPER. The four groups were from Sumilao, Banasi, Calatagan, and Quezon. The Cultural Affairs Office (CAO), Integrated Community Extension Services (ICES) Office, Office for Students Affairs (OSA), the Office of the President in coordination with the Archdiocese of Manila prepared a short program as a tribute and expression of support to the farmers at the Adamson University Theater.
The farmers have been fighting for ownership of the land that they have been tilling. Their sojourn in the University for several days is part of their tour of several campuses in Manila to solicit support for their cause. Adamson University is just one of the institutions that these group sought help from. In the past, they have also been shored up by other educational institutions, non-government organizations, private individuals, and other compassionate, socially involved groups.
Part of the program was the screening of Ditsi Carolino’s docu on the long walk of the Sumilao farmers from Minadanao to Manila. The documentaries focused on the saga of Filipino farmers to fight for the land that they deserve. UP-Diliman Sociology graduate, Carolino has several awards and films to her name, including Masakit sa Mata, Manggagawa, Kamanlilikha, Trails to an Answer , Dapit-hapon sa Tambakan, Pinakatagong Lihim ng Simbahan, Liberating Coops, Keeping the Coop Fire Burning, and No Time for Play.
“Our support for our farmers goes beyond hosting them in our premises. We are also actively participating in lobbying efforts through Fr. Nonong Fajardo, who sits as a member of the negotiating panel for the CARPER extension,” said Fr. Gregorio L. Bañaga, Jr., C.M., university president.
It was also during the program that farmer-leader Luisita Zarsadias-Esmao, a former accountancy student from 1977-1980 and a native of Tayabas was given a Special Presidential Citation Quezon for her unwavering support to the farmers. The citation partly read: “ …for her enduring commitment to various advocacies, particularly to the cause of farmers and women in her province and in the country, thus transforming the lives of fellow Filipinos; and for using her Adamsonian education as a means to serve the socially disadvantaged.” Esmao was named one of the Ten Outstanding Women of the Philippines (BAYI) together with accomplished women like Congresswoman Riza Hontiveros, Gov. Vilma Santos, and Gov. Grace Padaca.