[Pidigan] ► Virginia Tobacco Farming: The Harsh Wealth of Abra

THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS FROM READERS
(The full article is posted below this discussion box.)

"For sure there is a harsh effect to health and at the opposite side, there is a harsh effect for the livelihood of the people. Indeed a big debate."

Why harsh? Isn't tobacco farming a good source of income for the people? Well, as you read along, I will be discussing some issues related to the tobacco farming industry of Abra. Planting tobacco is one of the major livelihood activities in this Cordillera province and it is interesting to note the struggles faced by the tobacco farmers.

Tobacco farm pidigan abra
The Scenic Tobacco Fields in Pidigan, Abra

I was in the town of Pidigan in the province of Abra. It was quiet, no noise, no pollution, purely fresh and relaxing. Suddenly, I can smell a familiar odor I used to smell in Ilocos. My instinct was right! It was the tobacco fields as the source of that familiar smell.

I was approaching the tobacco farms of Pidigan planted on a plain situated at the foot of the mountains of Abra and this valley is one of the reasons why there are still a lot of cigarette smokers while Cigarette-manufacturing companies dwell in wealth from this industry.

However, there is nothing to blame in this scenario because this is an industry and it brings cash flow to the province. The tobacco field is a source of income for the people in this part of Abra. They provide raw materials for the cigarette companies to manufacture.

Abra is just one of several provinces that produce Virginia tobacco like Cagayan, Pangasinan, Isabela, La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.

At this junction, why I called it harsh?

The Harsh Effect

The harsh effect is focused on health. I believe everyone is aware about that cigarette smoking kills. The government also campaigns and warns the people against cigarette smoking.

Are the tobacco farmers to be blamed? Here, we enter to an open discussion and opinions are all correct. This industry provides food for the people of Abra. Actually, it could be an endless debate between health and livelihood and from these facts, the tobacco fields are the first hand source of cigarette products while the manufacturing companies add some addictive chemicals that are harsh to health.

tobacco farm
If the government campaigns for a smoke-free Philippines this would mean the death of the tobacco industry.

Question, can the Philippine government provide another livelihood for the people of Abra and other tobacco-producing provinces when this industry come to an end as a result of anti-smoking campaigns? For sure there is a harsh effect to health and at the opposite side, there is a harsh effect for the livelihood of the people. Indeed a big debate.


The Harsh Reality

I actually salute some tobacco farmers who were able to build good houses and send their children to good universities and really, I know some of them but not all are able to do it.

The existence of the law called RA 7171 which pumped millions of pesos to tobacco-producing towns gave hope to the tobacco farmers of Northern Luzon especially for Abra where economic status is not as vibrant as the other tobacco-producing provinces. For sure, the million of pesos from the tobacco excise tax will benefit the people.

However, is the fund really benefiting the tobacco farmers of Abra or it just goes to the pockets of those who are in authority? Well I am not blaming or accusing anyone, I am just asking a question and I think the farmer themselves can answer this question.

I was able to talk with a tobacco farmer and according to him, his life from the time he started farming tobacco is still the same amidst the presence of RA 7171 that is bringing millions to Abra.

To balance the situation, leaders claim that the fund goes to infrastructure projects like farm to market roads. To end this post, it is a harsh reality that still many of the tobacco farmers of Abra are poor and I am hoping that through this industry, the quality living of the farmers will escalate for better.

Abra has a lot of potentials. Of course, we should not always rely our destiny to the government. But on the side of the farmers, I believe they need a tender loving care from the government.
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comment 18 #TownFolks Commented :

Robi Marapao on April 27, 2012 at 10:23 PM said...

Hey Ed, thanks for this very informative post. You didn't only blog for pleasure but also for awareness and showcase of beautiful resources of our country. God bless your future trips.

Edmaration etc on April 27, 2012 at 10:30 PM said...

Thanks you so much Robi :)

RM Bulseco on April 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM said...

Wala lang, bawal kasi ang yosi to almost every places here in Davao, laki kasi ng fine. I used to smoke, back in college. I stopped months after graduation kasi tinamaan ako ng viral infection. Pero likewise, Abra can have farms other than tobacco. :)

Edmaration etc on April 27, 2012 at 11:10 PM said...

Renz, yan talaga ang hinahangaan ko sa Davao, ang galing mag-enforce ng ordinance :)

Yes, farmers in Abra also plant rice and corn. Minsan kasi mas malaki kita sa Tabako kaya some prefer it :)

Tara Woodruff on April 27, 2012 at 11:27 PM said...

It is beautiful!! I wanted to leave you with something to research. I was pleasantly surprised [well not really] that tobacco is actually good for you, improves brain function, and increases longevity; It is the Filters, the paper and the chemicals that the big cigarette companies lace the tobacco with that kill. Any way, the farmers will adjust, they will find a new crop. Much love!

tatess on April 28, 2012 at 12:36 AM said...

Yes ,Ed ,your blog is always full of information .You don't only blog for a place but you blog for the people around it and its livelihood. Tobacco is really bad for the health but what will happen to the farmer if they stop their farming?

athena on April 28, 2012 at 4:40 AM said...

it's really hard to even just warn people about cigarette smoking, more so if the government campaigns for a smoke-free philippines.

honestly, if you didn't post this, i wouldn't really figure that the farmers are really the ones who get the first hand effects kasi sila ang nagtatanim ng tobacco. hmmm.

Berylle on April 28, 2012 at 9:56 AM said...

sad truth indeed.. :( the government should really do something about this but you know our govt, they sometimes give focus on other things..

marri on April 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM said...

I just hope TOBACCO farming will be totally eradicated.
Our government should give proper alternatives to the farmers.
It needs to be initialized as soon as possible. Take the first step
in order to reach the common goal.

ralph on April 29, 2012 at 12:05 PM said...

that's the harsh reality, a lot of people are relying to the tobacco industry... unless the government can look for a alternative livelihood. Yahweh bless.

http://trunklocker.blogspot.com/2011/03/without-discrimination.html

lalalaPatricia on April 29, 2012 at 9:20 PM said...

Oh may ganito pala well i'm not aware of this. But thanks for sharing this info. I really learn much with your blog Ed. Thanks for sharing! :)

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 8:57 PM said...

Tara Woodruff on April 27, 2012 11:27 PM said...

It is beautiful!! I wanted to leave you with something to research. I was pleasantly surprised [well not really] that tobacco is actually good for you, improves brain function, and increases longevity; It is the Filters, the paper and the chemicals that the big cigarette companies lace the tobacco with that kill. Any way, the farmers will adjust, they will find a new crop. Much love!

---
Your information is an interesting one tonote :) Thanks!
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Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM said...

tatess on April 28, 2012 12:36 AM said...

Yes ,Ed ,your blog is always full of information .You don't only blog for a place but you blog for the people around it and its livelihood. Tobacco is really bad for the health but what will happen to the farmer if they stop their farming?

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THanks you mommy Tess..

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:03 PM said...

athena on April 28, 2012 4:40 AM said...

it's really hard to even just warn people about cigarette smoking, more so if the government campaigns for a smoke-free philippines.

honestly, if you didn't post this, i wouldn't really figure that the farmers are really the ones who get the first hand effects kasi sila ang nagtatanim ng tobacco. hmmm.

---
Athena, you said it right, that's why this issue is very delicate :)

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:05 PM said...

Berylle on April 28, 2012 9:56 AM said...

sad truth indeed.. :( the government should really do something about this but you know our govt, they sometimes give focus on other things..

---
Our government is really just so busy with many things that small problems in our society are hardly given a glance :|

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:09 PM said...

marri on April 29, 2012 11:18 AM said...

I just hope TOBACCO farming will be totally eradicated.
Our government should give proper alternatives to the farmers.
It needs to be initialized as soon as possible. Take the first step
in order to reach the common goal.

---
Marri, I think that would be a big subject for debate... Some Northern Luzon provinces are benefited with millions of pesos from Tobacco farming.. So personally, I take the side of the farmers, maybe the proper way is to look for other products that can be made from tobacco and not to eradicate tobacco farming itself -- it hurts our farmers...

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:11 PM said...

ralph on April 29, 2012 12:05 PM said...

that's the harsh reality, a lot of people are relying to the tobacco industry... unless the government can look for a alternative livelihood. Yahweh bless.

---
Yeah right!

:) :D :) :D :) :D :) :D :) :D>

Edmaration etc on April 30, 2012 at 9:12 PM said...

lalalaPatricia on April 29, 2012 9:20 PM said...

Oh may ganito pala well i'm not aware of this. But thanks for sharing this info. I really learn much with your blog Ed. Thanks for sharing! :)

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My pleasure Pat

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