THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso
Land banking? Have you read the 1931 novel “The Good Earth’’ written by American novelist Pearl S. Buck? The novel became a classic, a bestseller and made into a movie starring Paul Muni and Luise Rainier who were famous actors before World War II. It was the saga of a peasant girl O-lan who married Wang Lung who comes from a poor but land-owning family.
The backdrop was rural China at the turn of the 19th century. Because of frugal living and farming, the couple rose to fame and wealth. The key is their industry and land banking. What money the family earned from selling their produce were saved and used to buy more lands. They eventually had to hire more land workers till their ever-growing farm lands. Farming was what rural Chinese relied on to produce wealth in those times. To this day, land is still precious as gold. Governments and businessmen even had to resort to land reclamation in order to build their buildings and produce more wealth. And did you know that Bill Gates is the biggest landowner in America?
The Philippines is small compared to other countries. It has a land area of 300,000 square kilometers scattered in its 7,107 islands. With a population of 110 million densely scattered in three major islands, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. This is probably one major reason why foreigners are not allowed to own lands in the country if not in partnership with a Filipino on a 60 percent Filipino-40 percent foreign ownership.
Prime land ownership and land banking has become a favorite pastime of the tycoons and the famously rich. Land reclamation is now a major productive activity in the Philippines. That is the reason why the Philippine Reclamation Authority was put in place by the government in the first place. Land reclamation is ongoing most actively along Manila Bay and in Cebu.
If land is that important to the very rich, we ordinary Juans and Juanas must also think that way. I know many of our balikbayans and returning OFWs, the unemployed and the retirees have lands that belong to them as inheritance, as grantees or bought with their own money through hard work and luck. Let us make them productive. Plant, plant, plant and build, build, build. Your family and the whole country will benefit from your harvests however small. To think that you were able to contribute to the national food security is a patriotic activity. Plant trees if you can in your own large backyard or in large areas suitable for tree planting and reforestation. I remember that PHIMCO, a Swedish firm that used to be the largest match manufacturer in the country had an industrial tree farming site in the country in the late 80s and early 90s. The trees they planted are to be used as raw materials for their matches in a factory in Sta. Ana, Manila.
The government through the Department of Agriculture and other agencies have rolled out programs that landowning farmers can avail of in terms of financing and technology. You can visit their websites and go personally to their offices. In these times of uncertainty, to know that your idle lands will become productive in the months and years to come is a happy thought for your family, and for generations to come.