By Restituto Cayubit
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – The Mamanwa tribe living in the hinterlands of Burauen, Leyte, has started the transition from being wildlife hunters to farmers producing high-value crops and vegetables.
Bernal Managbanag, 94, the tribe’s chieftain, said 50 tribesmen have been trained by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) on modern farming techniques.
Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Petilla had initiated the scientific farm training for the tribespeople, bringing in TESDA and other government agencies into the project.
Managbanag said the 19 men and 31 women from the tribe earned a National Certificate II from TESDA.
The training marks the transition of the Mamanwa from hunting wild animals and gathering fruits for their daily subsistence.
It was also a way of weaning the tribesmen away from the influence of communist rebels.
Managbanag said at least 15 Mamanwa who were former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) are now growing high-value crops such as onions, asparagus, radish, cauliflowers, strawberries, lettuce, broccoli and carrots
Petilla said aside from the training, his office provided financial support for registering the group with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to provide them with the legal personality.
He said his office also provided the farm implements and agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and vegetable seeds.
The Mamanwa now supply local markets with produce from their farms.