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Vegetable Thieves And The Drama That Ensued

While our house was being constructed on the land we temporally stayed with a family around 2 to 3 kilometers away from our land.
Before we moved into our new house and left the family the elder woman warned us “People there are not like us, they steal a lot”.
The wife of the carpenter that built our house who lives near to us told us that she had a calamansi tree and people would steal the fruits from t – but they would not pluck out the individual fruits they would chop off entire branches with a machete. After it happened several times the wife got so angry she cut the entire tree down under the motto “If I can’t have any fruit, then nobody can”. She also said her family had a field of mung beans(mongo) which would often get stolen too.

We had just planted a calamansi tree with fruits on our land that we bought from a city one to two hours away. A few days later we went to the town to buy groceries, but when we came back the entire calamansi tree was gone. The thieves uprooted the entire tree and took it with them. Not only that, but 4 of our outdoor light bulbs got stolen as well. The carpenter of our house then told us his outdoor lights also got stolen before.

We have also been warned not to lend money to anyone here, because they never pay anything back. The woman of the family we stayed with sometimes lends money to people, but she usually does not receive the money back for which she gets scolded by her husband.

More thievery and sabotage going on.

Just a few days ago two farming tools of ours got stolen. A pickaxe and a shovel. They were stolen in the middle of the night while we were sleeping. We were not even away from the house, we were inside.

Not only that but our field of beans has been damaged too. A week ago I planted beans on a field of about half an acre. Poles were staked into the ground and then I tied strings between the poles for the beans to climb on.  Then we barricaded that portion of the land with a simple wooden barrier.
While the thieves stole the farming tools they also broke the barricade, cut off all the strings, and trampled on many of the bean plants.
This was not just stealing, it was an act of deliberate and intentional sabotage. We have already incurred damage now of around 9000 pesos which equals 180 dollars.

The wife of the carpenter came to us to talk about what happened. She said most people in this community hate us because according to their shallow minds we are “selfish” and “greedy”. We have never even met most people from the community and we are always kind to the ones we do meet.
And how can we be ‘greedy’ if we do not even have anything to give away yet. We do not have a harvest yet, and how can we have a decent harvest if others keep destroying our farm?
If we would get a bountiful harvest I would have definitely given away some of the harvests for free to the community, but now that they hinder our progress they will not receive anything from us ever again.
The people here expect that we can just magically make everyone rich, they expect we hand out money like Santa Claus to everyone who walks by.
A few weeks ago our (rented) car got stuck in the mud near the farm and we had a lot of stuff to move to our house to complete the moving-in phase. So a bunch of kids helped us carry the stuff and get the car unstuck. We gave them like 35 dollars for their help. The average salary in this area is around 6 dollars for an 8-hour workday (75 cents per hour) and the kids worked for no less than 30 minutes. So how do they have any right to say we are greedy.

But it is not us that is the problem, it is the mentality of the people here. Because the wife of the carpenter told us that their construction tools and construction materials sometimes get stolen from their shed. Or people would ask to borrow their tools, but then never receive the tools back.
And now the people in the community hate the carpenter and his wife too, only because he build our house and he received a salary from us for doing so.
But it gets worse. Our neighbor who is actually the husband of the elder woman I told about at the beginning of the post has his rice field next to our land, even tho his house is in another village 3 kilometers further.
He also made a wooden barricade on the entrance of his rice field, but it got destroyed by the people here as well. And also people keep stealing bananas and coconuts from his land.
When the husband found out people stole from our land and sabotaged it he scolded and cursed at the people from this community.

The husband of the granddaughter of the elder woman is one of the construction workers of our house and our guide around here. He helps us a lot. He actually said there are ‘farmers’ here who own their own plots of land, but they do not plant anything on it; they do not do anything with it. Instead, they steal vegetables from other farmers.
So as you can see people here behave this way not out of poverty or misery, but simply because they are lazy and have no morals.
Our ‘guide’ also told us that some time ago there was a goat thief in his village. And when the farmer found out who stole his goat, the thief was shot to death on sight.
In the mountains here there is basically no law enforcement and no police so people take justice into their own hands…

We have also been told that many people here would love to graze their cows, carabaos(water buffalo), horses, and goats on our land because our land is one of the lushest and green out of all the farms here. This is because we do not burn our land unlike all the other farmers and we practice natural farming, conserving and protecting the soils and vegetation on it as much as possible. We do not allow any animals to graze on our land, whereas all other lands around us are overgrazed into destruction.
I am sure that the community will envy us and become jealous of us even more when our natural farming and conservation efforts continue causing the fertility and yields of our fields to increase more and more every year while the fertility and yields of neighboring farms decrease every year with their self-destructive farming practices.

The drama continues

So after our stuff got stolen and our bean field sabotaged we went out every few hours around the perimeters of our land with machetes in our hands. And every time we heard something suspicious we would also walk around the land to guard it. One time we saw kids on our land and the moment they saw us they ran away laughing.
A few days later on one evening, five men with batons came to our house representing the village council. They gave us a letter from one of the councilors, from a councilwoman I will name “B”. In the letter B invited us to her private residence on the next day to discuss “complaints” from parents who are saying that “We were running after their children to hunt them down with machetes.”
We never actually ran after the children, we just calmly walked over our land to guard it and when the children were on our land and they saw us they ran away laughing.
So basically the village council is trying to make us the perpetrator and the children the victims because obviously, the parents know their children did something wrong to us and want to defend their children.
By coincidence, my mother-in-law would drop by the farm the next day who is also our legal advisor, because she knows a lot about the law.
So the next day my mother in law went to B’s house only to tell her that there not be any discussions in private houses and that instead any such matters should be handled in the official council hall building, and that as long as this does not happen, there are no official complaints against us and without an official complaint there is nothing to discuss.
Then she said that if B or the parents will put an official complaint against us that we will sue the children in the juvenile court for the damage to our property.

The following day my mother-in-law went to the council hall building to discuss things with the council leader. The council leader then proceeded to give us a long lecture about how we are “Disrespectful” to the community here and that we are “bad neighbors”.  And about how there are worrisome complaints coming from the councilwoman B. (This probably stems from the fact that we do not allow any grazing animals from other farmers on our land and throw stones at these animals when they enter our land or send them away. Which is perfectly reasonable because grazing animals destroy our soil and harm the fragile ecology of our farm).
After that my mother-in-law gave a long lecture back to the council.

She told about how our land was burned; our lights were stolen; our tools were stolen; our fruit tree was stolen, and our field of beans got destroyed; and that the community here did nothing to protect us. And that if the children were not guilty, why would they run away the moment they saw us? And if the children were really “victims” why would they be laughing? Our carpenter was also there to back up our claims.
Then the council leader turned his opinion 180 degrees and sided with us. He said that it was weird that B would invite us to her private residence instead of at the official council building. We also found out that there were not any complaints from parents, instead, the only complaint there really was, was from B herself.
And guess why? Because we discovered the son or grandson of B was in fact the one that destroyed our land and B is trying to protect her own guilty family by turning the others in the village against us.
And apparently, there was a witness on the day that we found out that the kids were on our land and they ran away from us. It was an old farmer and he said that we never hunted or ran after the kids, he saw us calmly guarding our land.
Like I said before we threatened that if B would file a real official complaint against us we will sue her children in court, demanding payment for all the damages done to us.
Ever since then we never heard anything from B again and the children have never dared to even come close to our land again. (Because of course they themselves know they are guilty.)

A few days later we talked to the wife of the carpenter. She said she and her husband and some others do not like B at all and did not vote for her in the elections a few months ago.

And a week later we talked to the sister of our neighbor. She said many people are complaining about the naughty and poorly behaved children and that other farmers shoo them away from their land as soon as they see the kids.

So that concludes this story. Thank you for reading. This post can almost be made into a reality tv show. We are glad that at the very least the council leader heard our side of the story.

Thanks for reading.

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