So I’m in Malaybalay, the capital city of the
But this is an entry about where I am! Malaybalay is a great city – smaller than the other cities I’ve visited. (I mean, there’s no mall! I know the Ben and Cat are going to freak out if they read that but I haven’t been in a Filipino city yet that didn’t have a mall. ‘Malling’ (window shopping and hanging out at the mall) is a pretty popular pastime here). The city is also very green, apparently the result of a government green-city campaign. We’re up in the mountains so it’s cooler than almost anywhere else in the
This is also a mainly agricultural province – Dole and Del Monte both have huge banana and pineapple plantations here (and not only are their export bananas tasteless compared to the local ones, they’re also covered in plastic bags while growing on the tree to prevent blemishes. Sorry!). A lot of the people here either work on the multinational plantations or are subsistence farmers.
The gap between the two typs of farms is huge, as you can imagine. I went with Jo, a population worker for the government, to her home
Jo was there to give a talk to the barangay youth on how to make banana chips, as part of a livelihood program. I have to wonder though, is knowing how to make banana chips that useful when those youth have to walk 12 kilometers to get to Sumilao to sell them? It’s a hilly road, and Jo says it takes her at least 2 hours to walk if she takes a shortcut over the side of a steep hill. Their remoteness is why most of the youth from the barangay are out of school – the nearest high school is in Sumilao, and if their families can’t afford to board them there high school kids have to spend at least 4 hours a day walking there and back. A lot of them drop out to start farming instead. Jo also told the kids about SCALA and hopefully some of them can take advantage of it. The municipalities have agreed to cover the cost of board and lodging for their SCALA participants in Malaybalay as well as the cost of transport to get them there, which for the kids in Lumpiagan is essential.