organicA NEWS article written by Sun.Star staff reporter Rebelander S. Basilan last Sunday sent me running to the Department of Education (DepEd) 7’s Ecotech Center in Sudlon, Lahug yesterday morning. It was raining, which would have been enough reason for me to stay in bed and to hell with Basilan’s story.

And there was this message in my phone that said: “Warning: At 4:30 a.m., the nuclear power plant in Fukumi, Japan exploded. When rain falls anytime today, just stay inside the house, and if you are outside, see to it that you have a raincoat or an umbrella because the rain may be acidic and may cause skin cancer. Please pass this to your friends and loved ones even if you know this chain advisory is crap, just like those Marian prayers that promised you a life of misfortune and profound sadness if

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ignored.” OK, I made the last part up, but what the heck.

Incidentally, it was the issue on health and the environment that yanked me out of bed to make that visit to the Ecotech Center. Basilan’s article was about this “model organic farm” inside the Ecotech Center Compound. Our DepEd officials started the farm last December in the hope of someday eliminating hunger among our school children. The farm organically grows trees and vegetables, from mangoes to string beans to moringa oelifera (that’s malunggay, or kamungay, for you). There are tilapias, rabbits and native chickens, too, which made frantic noise when DepEd 7 project training director Roland Villegas mentioned that their meat makes for delicious dinner.

Teachers from all over Region 7 gathered at the center yesterday to learn about organic farming, so they can replicate the project in their schools. Rosanna Godinez, DepEd 7 coordinator for home economics and livelihood education, told me there are several schools now that have started growing organic farms.

The teachers knew they had to act fast, because while they were discussing intercropping, crop rotation and vermicomposting at the Ecotech Center, thousands of children back home are too malnourished to even recite the alphabet. If the project succeeds, even the parents will reenrol in our public schools to enjoy free organic lunch.

We don’t have enough space to discuss the benefits of organic farming here because they are too many. But rest assured children who grew up eating nothing but organic food are so healthy they can recite the alphabet backwards. And why would we, adults, be so stupid as to require our children to recite the alphabet backwards? Because we spent our childhood eating genetically modified, chemically enhanced utan bisaya. But you get my point.

Going organic is the environmentally in-thing to do these days. Available in the market now are organic laptops, organic cell phones, organic washing machines, organic toilet seats… you mean you don’t know?

I am personally interested in organic farming because I have a vast, sprawling, as-far-as-the-eyes-can-see farm in my hometown in Pinamungajan, which consists of three jalapeno plants and one bell pepper. My four little hotties seem to be engrossed in a game called “You First, You Lose.”

Meaning, the first to yield a harvest will be an embarrassment to the Chilli Kingdom. They’ve been in this game for 48 years now. I also have three native chickens, which are stuck in the same piss-the-owner challenge in the field of egg-laying.

In the interest of balanced reporting, I consulted a nonorganic farmer, who assured me that with his chemical fertilizers and feeds, my chillies and chickens will grow so robust and strong that they will protect me from earthquakes and tsunamis, and journalists enjoy a 50 percent discount.

How do you say, “Get lost!” the organic way?

(SUN.STAR CEBU, MARCH 15, 2011)