One for all, all for farming: food security through urban gardens

This way, Filipinos are also guaranteed a steady local food supply.

 Senators Cynthia Villar and Sen. Mark Villar with Barangay Captains Siony Aguilar of CAA and Josie Bumanlag of Talon 5 look at the Cookfest entries on May 2, in Las Piñas.

“Ang urban gardening ay napakahalaga sa akin. Ito ay para palakasin ang food security dahil abot kamay ang masustansyang gulay dahil ito ay nasa tabing bahay lamang (Urban gardening is very important to me. This strengthens our food security because nutritious vegetables are within reach right from our households),” began Sen. Cynthia A. Villar (CAV), chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, at the 9th Las Piñas Urban Gardening and Cooking Festival Inter-Barangay Competition held on May 2.

The senator, whose father was a long-time mayor of the same city, is also chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

Through this competition that brought together thirteen barangays, 26 schools, and 22 homeowners’ associations (bringing participants to a total of 61), Sen. Cynthia A. Villar brought together her passion for agriculture and food, and environment and natural resources. It was the perfect way to bring together the best of both worlds. 

And, of course, the unbeatable taste of Filipino cooking. This is why the event is also a CookFest, showcasing the participants' natural knack for cooking delicious food through local ingredients immediately available: meat, vegetables, fruits, and fish.

A reminder to eat our veggies

Ang pagkain ng gulay ay pagbibigay pansin din sa kalagayang pang-nutrisyon ng ating mga ka-pamilya at ka-barangay (Eating vegetables gives attention to the nutritional condition of families and barangays),” continued CAV. “Dahil ito ay may fiber, ito ay nakakatulong na matanggal at malinis ang ating intestinal tract, mapalago ng mga mabubuting bacteria sa ating katawan, mapabuti ng ating blood sugar level, lower blood pressure, at iba pa. (Since it has fiber, it helps clean the intestinal tract, encourages the growth of good bacteria, regulates blood sugar level, and lowers blood pressure, among others.)”

CAV walks her talk: she has been eating more mindfully and making healthier eating choices since the pandemic. She is also a mother and grandmother, and this competition is an extension of her nurture and care to the city which she considers her home, and its residents her family.

Her legacy is after all farming, food security, and nutrition.

She continued by pointing out how vegetables lower the risk of heart disease, prevent cancer, and reduce the chances for a person to develop diabetes.

Support for food producers

Spend a day with CAV at her farm and you’ll see how her upbringing at the farm naturally comes out. This is why the competition was also her way of extending support and appreciation to food producers and reminding Las Piñas residents to do the same. 

Without farmers and fishermen, what ingredients will we cook every day?

Ang pagsuporta sa local food producers o sa ating mga magsasaka at mangigisda ay diretsong tulong sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng steady buyers ng kanilang mga tanim (Having steady buyers for their produce is extending direct support to local food producers or farmers and fisherfolk),”  said CAV. Through her years of public service, she has worked hard for the welfare of the farmers, speaking up when necessary.

(It is worth noting that, on May 6, CAV issued a statement on the Rice Tariffication Law and National Food Authority issues plaguing the country. Her simple appeal: “We should urgently pass the Anti Agricultural Economic Sabotage Law to control the middlemen and traders from causing hardship to the farmers and the consumers.”)

Through consistent support to local food producers, they are encouraged and empowered to remain in agriculture and fisheries. This way, Filipinos are also guaranteed a steady local food supply. It’s simply Filipinos helping one another to survive and thrive.

The winner does not stand alone

Winners of the cooking competition received the following prizes:

Grand winner - P20,000.00 in cash and a trophy
1st runner-up - P15,000.00 in cash and a trophy
2nd runner-up - P10,000.00 in cash and trophy

For the urban gardening competition, the winners brought home:

P30,000.00 for the champion
P15,000.00 for the 1st runner-up 
P10,000.00 for the 2nd runner-up

Here are the winners —


For urban gardening, Barangay Category: Talon 4, Champion; BF International CAA, 1st runner-up; Talon 2, 2nd runner-up 


For Homeowners Association Category:  Castillan Village, Talon 2, Champion;  
Marulas Tenants Liveluhood Association, Inc., Manuyo 2, 1st runner-up; Almirante Neighborhood Association, Talon 2, 2nd runner-up.


For School Category: 
Las Piñas North National High School, Pulang Lupa 2 (reigning champion), Champion; Captain Albert Aguilar National High School, Barangay BF International CAA, 1st runner-up; Las Piñas National High School, Barangay Daniel Fajardo; 2nd runner-up. 

For Cookfest: Barangay Talon Singko, Champion; Barangay BF International/
CAA, 1st runner-up; Barangay Talon Kwatro, 2nd runner-up.

CAV lauded Manuyo 2 for being inclusive in their urban gardening campaign. They involved women, persons with disabilities, solo parents, and even senior citizens. “Talagang nakakatuwa (It's delightful),” she said.

To end the competition, CAV went back to her motherly nurturing mode and gave a poignant reminder: “Tayo ay dapat magtanim ng gulay at kumain into. (We should all plant vegetables and eat them.)

The Villar Foundation Farm School in Las Piñas - Bacoor will hold an Agricrops Production Training on May 21 to 24, in partnership with East West Seeds Foundation. Visit her Facebook page for the final schedule and other announcements, or Tarpaulin announcements will also be posted throughout the city.