The statement that globalization creates a knowledge society because of so-called technological advancement is nothing but a myth. The glaring truism is that we are not living in a knowledge society if we don’t have the very basic choices that allow us to lead a human life, a life of dignity: allow us to know root causes of poverty and the ingredients, the systems and structures that perpetuate poverty in a land that is oozing with ecological resources. Indeed, for those who have dreamt, struggled, sacrificed and even died for it, social change has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of Martial Law and two-people powered revolutions. The systems and structures perpetuating poverty, corruption, gross social inequity and social injustice are still as formidable as ever.
Studies have shown that poverty in the Philippines is rooted not in the lack of resources but in the powerlessness of the people. Based on this truism, Dr. Soc Anthony del Rosario, PhD founded the Asian Business Cabletow Cooperative Academy two decades ago to trailblaze an empowering path through education, capacitating especially those in the margins to draw them into the mainstream of development process.
That empowering path to educate the sons and daughters of the Indigenous Peoples, the peasantry and the workers has now scaled the heights, graduating thousands of senior high school students, then going to college as scholars who are now professionals and who are now helping their respective rural communities to be liberated from the quagmire of poverty. Such is the essence of transformative education, the countervailing force against hunger, poverty and social injustice. That education to empower the poor and the vulnerable has become imperative. Based on the Study of the World Bank as reported by the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “in the Philippines, only .02 percent is the growth of the agriculture in the Gross Domestic Product in the last decade.” Poverty is indeed worse in the rural areas which is even aggravated by Climate Crisis as the ecological people are the victims of ecological degradation. According to the same Study, the rural people are the most affected by protracted war and violent extremism. As farming has become non-viable anymore, 3 out of 4 young farmers are leaving farming, going to the urban centers to work as janitors, drivers, waiters and what have you.
ABCCA is that countervailing force against this bitter reality because of its efforts in effecting paradigm shift that is debunking conventional agriculture to advance sustainable agriculture. What is amazing is the efforts of ABCCA to empower the Indigenous Peoples who are now becoming the poorest of the poor. In fact, the ABCCA has included in its advocacy the liberation of the Indigenous Peoples from poverty and oppression. Those living in extreme poverty and whose lands have been illegally land grabbed are now being assisted by ABCCA to be restored back to their ancestral domain.
What is so amazing is how ABCCA adopted to the so-called “New Normal” in advancing transformative education to the senior high school students especially during this time when the whole world is not safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now some 3,200 students who have availed of television sets and allowances to go into daily virtual way of education. Even those living in the hinterlands particularly the sons and daughters of the Indigenous People have become scholars of ABCCA’s virtual education – a great inspiration to the IP communities whose young generations are now facing a brighter future!
In building a knowledge society thru ABCCA, what comes to one’s mind are the poetic lines of Rabindranath Tagore when he said, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where the world is not broken down by narrow domestic walls, in that heaven of freedom my Father, let my people awake.” These poetic lines by India’s great poet is now reverberating as ABCCA takes the empowering path. That Indian struggle against the British Empire where the “sun does not set,” ABCCA’s stand whatever be the odds, be it against empire or conditions that degrade human dignity such as poverty or even against the coronavirus pandemic, the people at the end will always prevail through conscientization or through transformative education. Indeed, if India has Satyagraha (Love-force) that put down an empire to its knees, the Philippines has ABCCA to effect transformative education for people, planet, prosperity and peace!
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