The Farmers of Canlubang

This is a collaborative post with Andre Ortega, a graduate student at the University of Washington. He is a cultural geographer who is doing his dissertation research on how the real estate boom in the Philippines is reconfiguring everyday life in a rapidly urbanizing Philippines. (Click on the photos to view a larger version.)

Farmers of Hacienda Yulo, along with other farmers in the Philippines, have put up tents in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City to protest the on-going dispossession of land and other abuses taking place in the countryside. By being beside a state bureau that is tasked to give land and justice to farmers, this site of resistance has become an effective space to educate the public about peasant struggles and show the contradictions of neoliberal development.

For decades, farmers in Hacienda Yulo, or popularly known as Canlubang, have been struggling to regain their right to till the land. The estate that covers around 7,100 hectares of land and used to be the Canlubang Sugar Estate, is owned by the influential Yulo Family.

The history of the Canlubang property dates back to when it was part of the Calamba friar lands. During American colonization, the estate was purchased by an American multinational sugar corporation and became the Calamba Sugar Estate. After the war, the estate was acquired by businessman Vicente Madrigal and was eventually sold to Speaker Don Jose Yulo, Sr. using a loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines. In the late 1970s, portions of the estate were converted into industrial zones, golf courses and housing developments and a Canlubang Urban Development Project was launched facilitating the effective conversion of the estate. In 1993, the whole estate was classified as ‘Industrial’ which effectively exempted it from redistribution through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

For 100 days, farmers and supporters went on a hunger strike, sacrificing their bodies for genuine land reform.

Farmers are always ready to fight, join forces and move forward toward a just society.

Now, the Yulos and a big real estate developer are building a big high-end housing development project in the area. While the whole estate is continuously being subdivided and transacted by the landlords, farmers are still fighting to re-claim the lands they have been tilling for more than a century and are facing everyday threats of demolition, eviction, and physical and emotional harassment from police and the military.

These photos show the places navigated by farmers who continue to struggle for their land in Hacienda Yulo. From the gates of the Department of Agrarian Reform to the coconut plantations of Sitio Buntog, farmers are living an everyday space that is risky but full of hope and bravery.

With each passing day, farmers and community members bravely struggle with hope amidst hunger and persecution.

Hunger, thirst and exhaustion do not deter those who fight for genuine land reform and social justice!

With hope and bravery, the youth are ready to move forward and continue the struggle!

Recounting harsh memories of abuse, physical force and demolitions...

Canlubang's agricultural spaces, comprised of trees, crops and farm animals, are in danger of annihilation.

Going through everyday life in the uplands of Canlubang has been terribly perilous for farmers.

In a classic case of the rejection of rural life forms to facilitate the infusion of capital through the production of urban space, new 'sustainable', 'green' and 'urban' spaces are being built on lands where thousands of farmers and residents tilled for more than a century. Is this real development?

If you’d like more information on the struggle of these farmers, check out the Facebook page for Baranggay Canlubang.

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One Comment

  1. AV November 8, 2010 at 6:32 am #