Planting Rice is Never Fun

A saying goes in Filipino, “Magtanim ay ‘di biro.”

On June 09, 2023, employees and contractors of the Dinapigue Mining Corporation (DMC) flocked to Barangay Dimaluade to participate in a rice planting immersion program titled “Pagra-ep,” (an Ilokano word which means to plant) as part of the Community Relations Department’s Employee Volunteerism Program.

We started our program by travelling as early as 4:00 in the morning to the barangay where the rice fields were. I was told that you must plant before the sun rises to avoid working in the scorching heat of the sun.

It was a bit of a trek getting to the rice fields and I had to avoid slipping on rocks and mud. Getting there was tiring, but all that went away at the sight of our smiling stakeholders who were eager to have us join them in planting.

As a city boy, I hardly knew anything about how to plant rice. The last time I remember planting anything was a single tree back in grade school – and that was a mandatory activity prior to graduating.

I took my first step into the rice field, and immediately I felt the cold, damp mud on my skin. I was handed a stack of palay to plant.

To plant rice, you must gather a bunch of seedlings (punla in Tagalog) and plant them deep into the mud with your fingers. My first few attempts were met with laughter from some of the locals and my co-workers because the rice seedlings I planted just barely sit atop the mud. I was told that you cannot plant the seeds in shallow water for it will wash the seedlings away and you can’t place it too deep either because it’ll drown.

I’ll be honest, it was a tiring activity. It’s hard to bend your knees with your back arched over while moving around in a mud field and those were exactly my thoughts when the sun started beating down on us as sunrise came.

The American translation of “Magtanim ay ‘di biro” goes “Planting rice is never fun, plant from morn’ ‘til the set of sun. Always stand and never sit, never rest for a little bit.”

It’s a catchy translation but one that I must disagree with. Planting rice is fun when you’re surrounded by your friends and co-workers, sharing meals with them when resting then going back at it. It’s fun when you can see the palpable joy on the farmers’ faces when they watch you plant (even when you mess up occasionally). It’s fun when you build that camaraderie between the stakeholders and the company.

Activities like this help us to develop a deeper appreciation of the invaluable role that the farmers of our country play and it’s something one must experience first-hand to truly appreciate.

Likewise, I’ve come to the realization that immersion programs like this help rid people of the idea that us miners sit atop an ivory tower and that we’re detached from our host and neighboring communities.

We live in a post-CSR world where a company’s social value is no longer measured by their Corporate Social Responsibility programs but rather their actual impact to the community.

What better way to show our communities that we care for them by making an actual, sustainable impact in their lives by being one with them?

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