In a way, a life-changing desert experience became the starting point of this journey.
I consider that painful episode as serendipitous since it actually helped give birth to Balay Mindanaw. It was during those dark and lonely moments that I, with some golden friends, began to dream of a journey, now called Balay Mindanaw.
Almost 20 years ago, I experienced a most painful betrayal when some people I trusted and had considered as friends and comrades launched coordinated and organized efforts to discredit me through lies and deception. They sought to demonize, demoralize and immobilize me by filing baseless complaints and cases – all seven of these have been dismissed by the various agencies and courts. They sought the help of their padrinos, mostly traditional politicians and big landowners, and organized mass action daw, to demand my removal as a government official.
The anti-reform forces both inside and outside government were just too happy to give their support. Even leftist political and ideological groups took advantage of the situation. In fact, the political cadres were the most ruthless. Trabaho lang daw, walang personalan.
Instead of stooping to their level, I decided to take the only honorable path. Despite being cleared of all the charges, I still opted to leave government service. I have moved on since then, learning a lot from that experience.
Those dark moments also became shining moments as I experienced the support, care and love of the farmers, of my family and of friends. Their many ways of showing their faith in me gave me strength to hang on. They visited me at home. They stayed with me especially during the times when I was feeling low. They organized rallies and other mass actions. They sent letters and statements of support. They offered me financial help as I was down to my last peso. Some even offered me a motorbike for my use as I did not even think of owning a car even when I was a top government regional official. That motorbike served as the very first Balay Mindanaw vehicle.
I survived that crisis scarred but wiser and stronger, humbled and affirmed, braver and kinder.