THE INTEREST in this very fine undertaking called the Family Farm Schools (FFS) seems quite genuine. Therefore, I will provide some very basic information for those interested in the concept and in contacting the organization in charge. The FFS network is managed by the Pampamilyang Paaralang Agrikulture, Inc., a non-profit/non-stock foundation that provides assistance in the establishment and operation of the farm schools in the country. PPAI has its main office on the third floor of the PIECO Building, Don Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. You may contact them through their phone numbers +63 2 892-8977 to 78, or fax +63 2 892-8977. They also have an e-mail address email@example.com Principal sponsorship and guidance for the FFS network is derived from SIMFR, the International Solidarity of Family Associations for Rural Training. SIMFR is a Belgian NGO established in 1980 that is affiliated with like-minded foundations with the Association of Family Farm Schools (AIMFR), headquartered in Spain. AIMFR has a network of about 1,000 associations that affect over 100,000 families in 30 countries. The FFS derives its concept and operations from that of the Spanish group Escuelas Familiares Agrarias, small units of community schools that assist rural areas in the education of the youth and their respective families. In the Philippines, there is one girls’ school called Balete FFS located in Bo. Makina, Balete, Batangas. The boys’ schools are in Dagatan, Lipa City, Batangas; Bais City, Negros Oriental; Dingle, Iloilo; Talon at Tuy, Batangas; the Gelacio Yason FFS at Bo. San Mariano, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro; and one still in process in Bo. Koreo, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte. In a succeeding blog, I will delve more into the concept and its operation. For this I thank Dr Rene Gayo who so graciously provided me with a brochure of the FFS.
April 2008 Archives
Prologue WHEN my class entered grad school, many of us had just come fresh from the streets and barricades that were the hallmark of a period of anti-war demonstrations and sympathy for a whole spectrum of liberation struggles. Thus, the theme of this issue strikes the author with more than just a chord of melancholy. True, the average revolutionary soon outgrows most of his more extreme outlooks in life, but a choice few have not forgotten what it means to have broken bread with the weak and the downtrodden. This, hopefully, carries on to one's stint in the otherwise secular business world, where the pursuit of profits and personal gain often buries any lingering altruism in anyone. One of the initial admonitions of the Almighty to our first parents is this instruction from the Bible: "Fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air and all living creatures." (Gen 1:28) It may be inferred that God gave man the right to occupy the earth, work the land, and enjoy the fruits of his labor, while making good use of the animals and all material goods as a means for survival and the conservation of life. Thus, the concept of wealth and the accumulation of said wealth is a necessary progression of this early economic activity. Unfortunately, the process of accumulating wealth often finds dire poverty existing beside great riches. Perhaps, without going into a distributive mode -- as our more extreme and radical friends are wont to do -- there should be a better way to allow wealth to filter down more evenly to those classified as have-nots. Looking beyond the bottom line The wise Oriental sage Lao Tse (also Lao Tzu) has this to say: "The wise man does not lay up treasure. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own." Lao Tse expounds further: "Great wealth implies great loss." Am I, therefore, aiming a progressive canon (as opposed to cannon) at those who have managed to do quite well for themselves and for their corporations? Certainly not! But it would be quite revolutionary if top executives looked beyond the bottom line and considered whether their contribution to society is measurable only in terms of quarterly earnings or financial and technical innovations. Surely, top executives can look beyond the bottom line and consider what, in the end, all that labor and employment of capital will really result in. Surely, many top executives should listen and emulate some of our elders like the famous architect of German unification, Otto von Bismark, who once said: "A really great man is known by three signs: generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, and moderation in success." Dominique Bouhours, on the other hand, observes that "Money is a good servant, but a poor master." Walking the talk Every time I get my hands on an annual report, I check out the company's philosophy and how they go about their business. In short, it is a search for the Soul of the Business, its core beliefs, the animating spirit that gives life to the business. Sadly, one finds a whole set of platitudes and a lot of hot air. It is rare to find a corporation that not only talks the talk, but also walks the talk and walks the walk. It is the rare company that takes a long hard look at all its publics (itself, owners, customers, co-workers, suppliers, government, community, and environment) and is able to come up with a business and products that consider all those publics in its decisions. Failing to observe moral principles based on natural law, a high sense of fair play, and plain common sense, results in situations that often lead to breakdowns in relations with one or more of a company's publics, creating dysfunction and chaos. Do we wonder why, despite the current stricter monitoring of corporate governance, so many companies still don't resist the temptation to juggle books, undertake shortcuts, or hesitate to devastate the environment? The obsession with profits and what makes up the bottom line often leads to a short-sighted and ill-fated view of the conduct of business. The chase for more wealth and material goods reminds us of what the philosopher Aldous Huxley referred when he observed that "Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence -- those are the three pillars of Western prosperity." Certainly not the most awe-inspiring of banners to rally around! The most stirring indictment comes from that great ascetic, Mahatma Gandhi, when he noted that "Increase of material comforts, it may be generally laid down, does not in any way whatsoever conduce to moral growth." Stirring indictments, yes, but, unfortunately enough, often true of the conduct of business today. No soul!
A FRIEND and I who happen to have a passion for both the environment in general and trees in particular, try to plant as many trees as we can on a personal basis. A pet peeve is the generally lackadaisical attitude of most Filipinos toward trees and the environment. One would think that with the threat of global warming becoming more of a reality with each passing day, more Filipinos would tend toward the planting rather than the cutting down of trees. I was not prepared to comment on the problem of the Hanjin condo project in Subic, since I had little or no idea of where exactly the "offending" project was and whether it was actually in a built-up area or within the forest preserve. That is, until the Inquirer published a Google Earth picture of the project. It looked like it had been carved out right inside a very green area. The picture did not give any perspective, so one could not discern if the green areas were merely shrubbery or composed of primary and secondary forest growth. Whatever! The picture, as the saying goes, speaks a thousand words. Besides, can anyone just arbitrarily declare a diminution in the forest preserve by shrinking it from 10,000 to 8,000 hectares? That is a loss of 2,000 hectares, or 20 percent. Pretty soon, some other bright guy will come along in the future and seek to shrink the forest cover further by, say, another 30%. Of course, it goes without saying that some SOB will get very rich cutting and selling all that precious hardwood. When it comes to the environment, we really tend to push the envelope… towards the negative. If we fry or suffer from horrendous weather in the next 10 years we know whom to blame, among others.