Happiness in Batanes
Meet Nanay Trinidad and her son – Ivatans from the town of Mahatao in Batanes.
It may be hard to believe but Nanay Trinidad and her family just lost their five cattle worth 150 thousand pesos because of the prolonged dry spell that hit Northern Luzon. Not to mention the additional losses from their rice and rootcrop farming also because of the drought.
Yet she and her family can still smile in front of our cameras. Talk about happiness in Batanes. Perhaps we should credit the Ivatans for helping put the Philippines in the middle of the “happiness index” at number 84 out of 177 countries surveyed by the World Database on Happiness.
But the crisis in Batanes is not something to be taken lightly.
According to Batanes Gov. Telesforo Castillejos, the drought caused an estimated 100-million peso damage to agriculture in his province – 40 million for crops and 60 million for their livestock.
Worse, the governor says they only have around 6 million pesos as calamity fund and obviously, this is not enough to save the province from further damage.
He says they will be needing additional funds from the national government but ultimately, only rains can save them from the drought.
Continuous rains is important for Ivatans who practice upland farming since the province is mostly hilly and mountainous. It may be too late for their rice farming, but the planting season for onions and and garlic is just about to start next month.
Rainfall can also save their surviving cows, goats and carabaos that are actually getting dehydrated because of the drought. If the rain gods won’t listen, more families like Nanay Trinidad will have no recourse but to bury their dead livestock.
But then again, Nanay Trinidad and the rest of the Ivatans of Batanes remain optimistic. Just like any fierce typhoon, they are thinking, this drought too, shall pass.