Davao

The Davao leg of the infotour includes a three-day activist skillshare, a farmers’ forum, a presentation at a high school, and two days camping at Talicud Island.

Arriving in Davao is a change from Manila. Much more tropical, and much less paved over. Organic Minds Infoshop is in a rural area, we walk on rough dirt roads and through cow paddocks to arrive there. It feels like being in a jungle, but walking around the neighbourhood, I discover that it is as densely populated as Australian suburbia. The forest cover and lack of cars create the impression of being far away from the city. I could easily live here.

We get straight into workshops for the activist skillshare. Around 15 local activists gather to hear about Deep Green Resistance and Mobile Anarchist School activities, and share their own projects.

I speak about liberals and radicals, history of resistance, and strategy for a resistance movement. Mobile Anarchist School discuss alternative histories of the Philippines, and thoughts on sustaining ourselves as activists, along with their presentations on solar power and autonomous disaster response.

Organic Minds have established a guerrilla community garden on an empty lot nearby, and are learning to grow food, along with neighbourhood children. Curiously, the owners of the adjacent lot are digging a deep hole, expecting to find gold. I’m not sure whether they plan to strike a seam or uncover buried treasure.

Day four is a farmer’s forum, at an organic resource centre. The venue is beautiful, a large shelter with no walls, surrounded by polycultural farms – fruit trees, fish ponds, rice paddies, and a creek – in a rural area. We walk among the rice fields to get there.

I present on the history and environmental impacts of agriculture, and on permaculture design principles and methods. I’m not sure it’s worthwhile, this is all obvious and common sense to these farmers. I especially feel silly showing pictures of polycultures, when we are surrounded by exactly that. A farmer presents on the impacts of genetically modified food. In an age of globalisation, these issues are the same everywhere in the world.

Later, assessing the outcomes of the day with the forum organisers, we realise that the most urgent issue for farmers here is making a living, so we would have been better to focus the forum on building local economies.

The Davao leg ends with a two-day gathering with local activists and friends on a remote beach on Talicud Island.

 

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