Next to the houses one can also find nut trees, which red nuts are chewed with tobacco and shell powder. This combination has narcotic effects and is taken by almost all young people. The nuts are therefore for many people a significant source of income.
|the nut trees|
The jungle also offers a whole range of benefits. The privately own forest seemed to my non-expert eyes pretty sustainably managed. Trees are cut mainly for building houses or for carving furniture and souvenirs for tourists.
|The papaya trees around the houses|
Off-farm options exist, mainly thank to tourism also offers a whole range of opportunities, young people become tour guides and some older wealthy people build guesthouses. Nonetheless, in the todays setting tourism only benefits a few and not really the community as a whole. An indirect effect is that the people who work in tourism will hire other smallholders to maintain their farms and harvest rice. A male daily laborer get about 500 pesos (12,5 dollars) a day for maintaining the terraces, female daily laborer get about 150 pesos a day for weeding. In comparison, a server/cleaner in a fast food chain in Manila makes about 300 pesos a day. So working on someone else’s rice field does not seem such a bad business, just very tiresome.
I tried to understand how the community was organized, whether they had informal or formal institutions that would bind them to each other, but I could not find any, not even the Church. Definitely, I yet do not understand how these communities are organized. It is a pretty different setting that the one I am used to from Ethiopia, where smallholder live below the one dollar poverty line. I was pretty amazed to find smallholders who don’t do so bad, even without having a road.