The Agri-Kapihan, the free agricultural forum that we started in 1986, attracted all kinds of farming enthusiasts. Most of them were aspiring farmers, looking forward to getting into farming to keep them busy after retirement. Many of them already have their own farm projects and they were the ones who mentored the neophytes.
ALL SEATS TAKEN – One day, at the seed-sowing barn of the Manila Seedling Bank where we used to hold the weekly Saturday forum, the venue was already full and the attendees were busy listening to the lecture of an expert on growing mango trees. There were no more seats available.
THERE WERE POLICEMEN – Somehow, Mrs. Soledad Agbayani, one of the attendees from the very start, noticed that some policemen were standing by the entrance to the venue. There were three entrances to the seedling barn which were wide open, and anybody who wanted to attend can enter without having to ask permission.
SPECIAL ATTENDEE – She inquired how come there were policemen in uniform at the entrance of the venue. And one of them whispered to her that there was a special person who was attending for the first time. He pointed to the man who was standing against the wall of the barn, quietly listening to the lecture. The fellow was interested in mangoes because that was his dream fruit to grow in a farm he was buying in Batangas.
MAKATI MAYOR – And who was the special person? It turned out to be a man who introduced himself as Jejomar Binay. He was then mayor of Makati. Eventually he became vice president of the Philippines.
GENEROUS ATTENDEES – For many years, before the Manila Seedling Bank was taken over by the Quezon City government, the Agri-Kapihan was held at the same venue. Except when we were invited to do the agri forum in the province where they invited us such as in Bataan, Albay, La Union, Iloilo, North Cotabato and elsewhere.
SPECIAL OCCASIONS – Two occasions were very special at the Agri-Kapihan. One is the anniversary party and the other is the Christmas party. During these two occasions, we just told the attendees that the observance will be potluck style and each one could bring any food they can share with the other attendees. We didn’t tell what each one would bring, just what they were happy to share with their colleagues.
1,000 BALUT – In both occasions, never was there any shortage of food to eat. One time Vic Yasis who was making 40,000 baluts a month brought 1,000 cooked balut to share. Elias de la Cruz came all the way from Batac City in Ilocos Norte, bringing with him a sheep lechon, while Leo Owyong contributed two lechon from his farm in Teresa, Rizal. And Linda Jovellanos who had a farm in Palawan brought a live Brahman mestizo that weighed at least 350 kilos for slaughtering. So many others brought crabs, big fish from Palawan and elsewhere, fruits and special delicacies.
EACH ONE PROUD TO SHARE SOMETHING – The camaraderie was such that each one was proud to share something with their fellow attendees. We were personally amazed at the spontaneous offering of food to eat. Both anniversary and Christmas parties were always a great celebration.