Breaking the silence on farm chemical ingestion

(PIA) -- It took an intervention from an outside group to break the silence on farm chemical ingestion in this Cordillera community.


Due to strong cultural practice in a community in Benguet where people  refused to talk about and do not know how to deal with the matter, self-ingestion of farm chemicals had taken its toll with two to three cases recorded each month, recounted Dr. Ruth S. Batani, Director of the Office of Extension Services of the Benguet State University (BSU).

But due to a community-based approach, residents were motivated to open up given the appropriate information and learning. They now at least know how to handle the situation and put their efforts together. Aside from the new learnings acquired, they seek spiritual guidance by incorporating cultural practice led by community elders, Batani revealed.

As a consequence, cases of  chemical ingestion which used to have two to three recorded cases per month from 2013 to 2014 went down, Batani said.

It all began when the research group from BSU, which Batani was part of, engaged with the said community in 2009. Batani said they cannot disclose the name of the area in the province due to ethical considerations.  The vegetable industry contributes much to the economic wealth of many families in the area.  

The group started with data gathering until 2010 which showed that chemical ingestion is common among 15-24 years old, 80 percent of whom were boys. Their research continued on through an ethnographic approach and immersed themselves in 2011 until 2013.  It was more in-depth, an investigation of the kind of culture the members of the community have, Batani added.

Due to farming pressure to produce more, parents tend to ignore the emotional needs of the children when they seek for attention or help.  So  they go with their peers, have a drink until they engage in biting humour called “toknang” in the dialect, like parodying the power of the chemical. When they get back home, they ingest pesticides or other chemical inputs which are very accessible right in their own abode.

Batani explained that children resort to suicide to attract attention and a plea for help but not really to die, which in technical term of psychologist, is a wish to die.  Emotional relationship matters such as heartbreak, attention getting, scolding of parents, she added.

Batani presented the highlights of the findings of their study entitled “Structured Silencing and the Self Ingestion of Pesticide as a Public Health Issue” in a forum on Suicide Prevention Campaign spearheaded by a youth group, Heaven’s Touch Care Group.

Earlier studies showed that availability of pesticides at home or at the farm contributed to the high rate of suicide in some farming communities. Susan C. Aro (EDT/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet)


Benguet Destinations

Strawberry Farm

La Trinidad is know to be the “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines” because of the strawberry fields. Visitors can experience strawberry picking and also taste different products made from strawberry like the strawberry ice cream and strawberry “taho”.

Asin Hot Springs

Located at the outskirts of the city of Baguio, this attraction gives it’s visitors the chance to indulge in serious relaxation. Asin Hot Springs has been knwon to do wonders for the mind, body and soul because of the spring’s natural minerals like sulfates, calcium and chloride.

BenCab Museum

The BenCab museum, located at KM 6. Asin Road, houses the permanent collection of Philippine National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) in several galleries, as well as venues for art shows and exhibitions. The Philippine Contemporary Art Galleries highlight the artist’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture. The smaller exhibition rooms contain other collections accumulated by BenCab through the years.

Bell Church

The home to beautiful landscaped gardens and intricately designed arches and buildings adorned with flags, bells and dragons. Bell church holds some artifacts about Buddhism and literatures about the history of China.

Mt. Pulag

Mt. Pulag is the highest peak in Luzon and the third highest in the Philippines which is 2,922 meters above sea level. The view from the top of Mt. Pulag never fails to amaze its climbers.

Kabayan Mummies

Also know as the Fire Mummies of the Philippines, the Kabayan Mummies are from the Ibaloi tribe of Benguet. This have been included in the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World by a non-profit organization that focuses on the preservation of important historical monuments and sites.

Ambuclao Dam

The Ambuclao dam is popularly known as the biggest rock filled dam in the Far East and is considered as one of the major projects in Luzon that feeds electricity to the grid lines of Luzon.

Rose Gardens

Rose lovers will surely be pleased with Rose Gardens. A famous tourist attraction located in La Trinidad. Here, you will find a large variety of roses, chrysanthemums and other ornamental plants.

Mt. Ugo

This is considered to be one of the major destinations in the Cordilleras. It is the highest mountain located in Tinongdan, Itogon via the Benguet-Vizcayay boundary that boasts of stunning views of neighboring mountains and the great Luzon valley.

Kalugong View Point

A trek to Mount Kalugong is something that adventure seekers and nature lovers woudn't miss. The Kalugong View Point will give you a breathtaking experience and a panoramic view of the La Trinidad Valley and ther villages.
EL Kikasa