Much like the hard work required to bring vitality to dry, nutrient-lacking soil, it has taken many years of dedicated teaching and patient labouring to now see fruit among the graduates of the Mangyan Agricultural School (known as Pantribong Sanayan sa Pang-agrikultura or PSP in Tagalog) in Bayanan, Baco, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines.
For 25 years, Gemma de Guito – a lowlander from Mindoro – has worked tirelessly among six Mangyan tribes (including Tawbuid, Alangan, Iraya, Tadyawan, Hanunoo and Buhid) who inhabit the mountainous regions of Mindoro island. Investing time to cultivate relationships, she first gained trust and respect within Mangyan communities and then at PSP where she developed curriculum and taught practical skills in organic agriculture to Mangyan youth since the school’s opening in 2005.
Tending the Crops
The Mangyan students who enrol at PSP spend a minimum of eight months on the school’s sloping land situated above the Mangyan Bible School. Across the 0.75 hectares of land, they care for an assortment of fruit trees including bananas, durian, lanzones, rambutan, papaya as well as grow rows of local vegetables like eggplant, okra, gabi, mustard green, and petchay using only organic fertilizers.
Through their time at PSP, students not only gain skills they can apply when they return to their respective villages around Mindoro, but more importantly, they gain a deepened understanding of the value of caring for God’s creation. Even though many youth come from Christian villages, some of them do not yet have a personal relationship with Christ; they encounter God for the first time as Creator and Redeemer at PSP when they learn to farm God’s way.
Living in Community
Lowena Lupog is a PSP graduate who knows the value of caring for God’s creation. She is from the Tawbuid tribe in Occidental Mindoro and is married to Michael, who is from the Hanunoo tribe from the southern part of the island. Lowena first met Michael while he was still studying at the Mangyan Bible School (MBS). For the past one-and-a-half-years this couple have been committed to teaching the next generation of youth at PSP alongside of Gemma, Lowena’s former teacher. Together with their young son, they live in community with the PSP students – preparing meals and eating together, learning and applying biblical principles of stewardship and cultivating plots of organic fruits and vegetables.
Jema Calangay graduated from MBS in 2018. She is an enthusiastic 22-year-old from Ayan Bekeg – an Alangan village situated in the mountains high above MBS. As a student from both MBS and PSP, she is one of the few people in her community who has grasped a more holistic understanding of the Bible and can now more easily integrate her faith with her agricultural livelihood.
Putting Teaching into Practice
To date, over 100 Mangyan youth have graduated from the Agricultural School. The difficult reality is that not all the youth have been able to successfully implement what they learned. Some return to communities where their village leaders struggle with changing their traditional approach to agriculture (kaingin – slash and burn farming). However, there is a steady increase in the number of youth who are able to share and apply their newly learned skills. In these communities, the Mangyan testify to a healthier relationship with the land and a desire to cultivate a more dynamic relationship with God.
Gemma continues to dedicate her life in creation care integral mission. As she both works in the soil and alongside the Mangyan, she experiences a taste of God’s desire to reconcile all things: his people and his land.
By Jasmine Kwong
OMF Creation Care Advocate
With a background in conservation biology and community development, Jasmine often explores the intersections between humanity and the natural world. Her biggest inspiration is the Creator of the universe who is teaching her to cultivate a sense of awe and wonder through His creation.
Jasmine is currently based in the Philippines where she is raising awareness about creation care issues and engaging with other like-minded people. She often admires the many endemic species found only in these islands and when possible, she enjoys diving below the surface among beautiful corals. She shares the vision of shalom where one day all of humanity will reconcile with their Creator and the rest of creation.
 Mangyan Bible School (MBS) celebrated its 50th Anniversary in May 2018. MBS was established by the Mangyan Tribal Churches Association (MTCA) with the support of OMF International.
Will you pray for creation care ministries?
- Pray for more Mangyan youth to come to know Christ at PSP as they learn to farm God’s way.
- Pray for more Mangyan Christian communities to integrate their faith in God as they continue to live with the land through farming.
- Pray that God will use Mangyan Christians to reach others for Christ through their witness of caring for God’s creation.