We called it “bakero or vaquero,” a barrio slang which sounds like rooted on a Spanish term. “Mag bakero ko’g kabaw” means “I will feed the carabao in the pasture.”
I could have let the carabao eat on his own; he’s old enough. But there was that feeling of fulfillment in carabao-back riding while he savored with gusto the smorgasbord of fresh kumpay grasses topped with morning dew. It was like spoon-feeding a littlechild. Besides, watching the views of trees and grasses slowly revealing their true colors as the sun rose and cast its rays was such a refreshing experience to start a new day!
After almost an hour, I would go home and tie the carabao near our backyard. He would be ready for work in the farm later.
Then I had to attend to my other “pets” – the goats. There were three of them, but easier to handle. All I had to do was bring them to another grazing land filled with baknit or sampinit grasses and tie their ropes in a lone guava tree at the middle, or in the bushes or in big macahiya roots. Carabaos like kumpay, while goats like sampinit.
Done with the wonderful goats, I was back at home to water my backyard vegetable garden. I would fetch water from a river about 200 meters away from our house. When it’s rainy season, I would be allowed to use the rainwater from a tank just behind our kitchen.
Finally, it’s time for my last pet – a little stunted pig. He was the most special because I would bring him for washing to the river where I would also take my bath with the other kids preparing for school!
When everything was done, it was time for breakfast with the family and some farm workers. I had enough time to dress up and go to school in time for the flag raising ceremonies at Gumalang Elementary School.
Almost the same routine with my pets and my vegetable garden would be repeated in the afternoon.
Boring? Think again. Or think about your own “urban job.” List down what you do early in the morning until late in the afternoon, or evening. You say your work is challenging? It could be, especially at the start. But later you will find that it is also
nothing but a routine. Whether or not it’s interesting depends on how much you love your work.
Back in our barrio then, I did not feel like working. It was more of fun!
When I grew up however, I started to feel deprived of the luxuries of life because of living in the barrio. I dreamt of working in an airconditioned office, not in the farm where workers survived on cash advances from landowners. I wanted to earn with the use of a
pen, not with grass cutting tools. I wanted to go to the big city, where rich people were working in high-rise buildings. I associated rural area and farming with poverty.
It was a wrong perception instilled in my mind because of the realities that I saw – the poor condition of the farmers, our old bridge, our dilapidated roads, our lack of facilities at school, and my friends who were forced to stop studying as they had to help their
parents in the farm.
Fortunately, I was one of the very few from our little barrio who had the chance to complete college education and the “privilege” of working and living in the city. I haven’t gone back to our barrio for more than a decade now.
In the “big city,” I was involved with development work. We focused on advocacies for countryside development.
We talked about infrastructure support facilities, farm to market roads, post harvest facilities, health services, education, social welfare and environment. We were so passionate in lobbying. In fact, there were advocates who talked as if they knew the people’s problems and solutions more than the people knew themselves!
Then I realized that these were the same issues that I grew up with in the barrio, decades ago. There is nothing new. And nothing has changed.
When I left our small barrio, I promised to myself not to go back because farming in the barrio means poverty.
Now, I am still starting my career in the legal profession. But I have already made a commitment to work hard to be able to retire early and go back to farming.
Because rural views are beautiful. In fact, I have yet to see urban lights which are as beautiful as the rural fireflies!
And rural opinions and views matter. The farmers and the rural people truly know what their problems and what their simple needs really are. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Danilo Balucos was the first business manager of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center. He left MNICC to pursue law and returned to MindaNews after passing the recent bar exams).