Book Review: Scent of Rain, Sun and Soil

Scent of Rain, Sun and Soil: Stories of Agroecology by Lumad Youth in the Philippines
Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao, 2020

For Lumad communities, as with most Filipinos, farming is viewed not only as a livelihood but as the foundation of one’s identity, a way of life. Sustainable agriculture is passed through generations, learned from actual work in the forests as well as in community-run schools like the Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao (CTCSM), a self-sustaining farm school that has already catered to 15 Lumad groups. Lumad schools are built to accommodate indigenous youth who have no access to basic education. Located in Davao de Oro, CTCSM is by far the biggest single-campus Lumad school in the Philippines, offering a free culture-based education. 

In 2020, the government forcibly closed CTCSM, displacing its students and teachers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to online learning which will benefit no one but technocrats and ICT companies, and increasing militarization of agricultural and ancestral lands in Visayas and Mindanao. This follows the harassment of the local population, persecution of volunteers, occupation of Lumad communities, bombing of Lumad schools, and killing of indigenous leaders which all intensified under Duterte’s administration.

The book Scent of Rain, Sun and Soil, compiled by Sarah Wright, is an attempt to push back against the government’s long and intensive efforts to obliterate Lumad communities in order to give way to multinational and/or foreign-owned mining, logging, and industrial agriculture operations. A collection of poems, testimonials, and photographs from CTCSM’s students and staff, the book illustrates how the Lumad, through organic agroecology, meet the challenges not only of living sustainably, but of simply surviving in this country.

The book demonstrates how CTCSM students learn and practice organic agroecology within the campus and how these lessons carry over to caring for the Lumad communities in general. For these indigenous youth, attending CTCSM is demanding their rights to basic social services like education, health, and peace. It is also asserting their right to live on the land, to be recognized as individuals and communities.

Support displaced CTCSM students through the CARE project. Donate here.

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