Revivi con Coraje: Rebuilding Lives Through Urban Farming

By Ma. Theresa Lanelle Bañez | Posted on June 3, 2023

Every test that humanity faces impels an answer for one to wear the cloak of resiliency: a common mechanism dictated by a defined or even an unsolicited circumstance. Juxtaposed with acknowledging the rising challenges is the hope whispered by courage— a game changer that plays every person’s card with strength to overcome an event with the firmness of his mind and emotion… with or without the existence of fear.


The present Rotary theme sends a message among the Rotarians and Rotaractors to “Imagine Rotary” with COURAGE: an empowering nature of selfless contribution in reviving communities that is deeply envisioned with an end in mind; hence, rooted from initiatives that are effectively sustainable for all.

Image I. ATIWA farmers performing the basic urban gardening facilitated by the Rotaract Club of Zamboanga City West and Kids Who Farm during the launching of the Siembra PAZ at the Rotaract OzZam Farm, Barangay Tulungatung, Zamboanga City.

Restoring the memory of the Zamboanga Siege in 2013, Zamboangueños were immensely affected by the detrimental outcomes of the tragic encounter in the city which led many of the locals to leave their colonized areas and relocate to a safer home. The peoples’ displacement deprived them from carrying most of their essentials; rather, they were individually lived by their traumas that were way too heavy to be forgotten.

Barangay Tulungatung, contoured in an elevated land, became the shelter of newly settled 500 residents who were naturally from coastal areas and relied on the seas for their livelihood. The tragic circumstance had greatly challenged them economically as they were relocated on an upland agricultural site: a new landscape that is far from their daily common source of income.

Image 2. An ATIWA farmer establishing in the styrobox in preparation for the Cultivar en la Agua: A Hyroponics Way of Gardening project at the Rotaract OzZam Farm, Barangay Tulungatung, Zamboanga City.

In 2019, the Rotaract Club of Zamboanga City West explored the opportunities of communal farming as a leap in support to the communities through agriculture. With the help of Kids Who Farm, the Siembra PAZ: Peace through Agricultural and Communal Farming in Zamboanga  was launched at the Rotaract OzZam Farm that had introduced a new phase of impact in the context of soil-cured plantation to the society, especially to the Association of Tulungatung Innovative Women (ATIWA) farmers,  the iconic women of the affected families in the 2013 siege. Siembra PAZ became an emerging inspiration to the small families within the barangay to maximize their resources towards a secured food system which taught them food production, waste, and disposal. The wealthy harvest of the vegetation progressed to the good generation of income for the farmers.

In the course of the ATIWA’s thrive for literacy in gardening and farming, they had underwent the “Financial Literacy and Savings Mobilization through Hyperlokal Kapital- Capital Community Savings (CSC)” on January 22, 2022 which trained the farmers to be aware of  fund utilization and savings. Within the 9 months cycle of savings, they were able to access, save, and pay loans amounting to 509,000 pesos. 

The Great West had seen the potential of the urban gardening; thus, elevated the uniqueness of the project by piloting the Cultivar en la Agua: A Hydroponics Sustainable Way to Gardening on December 20, 2020. Significantly, the ATIWA farmers were introduced to planting lettuce through the main use of water. The timeliness of the project was able to transpire a skill that helped others to grow their own water-based gardens at home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With much confdence on the diverse positive results of hydroponiccs gardening to the ATIWA farmers of Barangay Tulungatung, the Rotaract Club of Zamboanga City West pursued the Cultivar en la Agua Year 2: Hydroponics Para sa Masa last September 25, 2022. The spontaneous results of the project inspired the Great West to collaborate with the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT)-11 in hope to propagate the skill in performing hydroponics that is inclusive to the communities. The success of the demonstration led to the actual harvesting of lettuce, kangkong, and pechay produce last December 30, 2022 at the MBLT-11 Camp, Rio Hondo, Zamboanga City.

Courage was first sown and was similarly reaped.

It was courage that flared the advocacy of the Great West in giving a desirable impact to the lives of the people that they had influenced. 

The vision and the journey were yet still filled with fear— but courage has always been the game changer.


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