by Vina Medenilla
Alaiza Malinao, a model and an official representative of Davao City for Miss Universe Pageant 2020, stands to raise awareness for Philippine agriculture and to promote farming in all types and forms.
The beauty of farming
Coming from a family of copra farmers, Malinao grew up seeing her family diligently work on the farm. The passion to inspire her farmer friends, neighbors and their families urged the model to take her career to the next level by joining Miss Universe. Despite having no background in agricultural studies, she exerted effort and reached to different people to get a deeper understanding of agriculture. She also visits farm tourism sites to see sustainable ways of farming that she can apply to her dream farm.
On her social media, she expresses pride and joy in showcasing her farming roots, where she learned the value of resilience and hard work from. The caption goes, “Spending my formative years in My Lolo Tolyong’s copra farm with my cousins and farmers, I experienced how difficult it is to work under a scorching sun all day, while we only eat kanin at tuyo or minsan Odong (Sardinas with Noodles) para may energy pagbalik sa trabaho.” Malinao also said that her modeling career has provided an opportunity for her family to have a more comfortable life in the province.
View this post on Instagram
Trivia: My journey to farming led me and my community here. I am so proud to be a woman who is supported by men who has limitless ideas on how we can empower farmers through sustainable farming. ♥️ Right now we have few farm partners. Kol Abling, Kol Bobong, Kol Nestor and the others? Our beautiful “Mulch Heroines” 😬My mother neNeng, Te Nene, Te Taling, Te Susan and Te Juanita! . In our farm, our goal is to provide equal opportunities. We still have so many things to work on and I’m supposed to be working in the farm now. I also think being in @themissuniverseph will help widen my network and amplify my love for farming. Being in the MUPh platform can also help to the success of our dream farm. . I also think, it’s about time we talk about farming in the Miss Universe platform. To help farming communities achieve sustainability, food security and equality. 💪🏽 . . If you ask me “where do you see yourself after Miss Universe Philippines?” Look at the photo. Literally, it is where you’ll see me.
For the model, farming isn’t just an advocacy or a campaign, but a dream she strives for. She works with her family towards food security by developing their copra farm into a vegetable garden. As Miss Universe candidate, this will help to widen her network and to extend her love for farming to others. She also found inspiration to farmers and agripreneurs, which she met after a year of discovering agriculture. She says, “Kaka start ko lang pero andami ko na natutunan at na nabago sa buhay ko, kaya ikaw, wherever you are sa Pilipinas, it’s never too late to take the first step towards your #FarmDreams.!” (I just started [discovering agriculture], but I learned so much that changed my life. So for you, wherever you are in the Philippines, it’s never too late to take the first step towards your #FarmDreams.”
Malinao is also a proud daughter of a farmer-firefighter. “He [Malinao’s father] is the reason why I like being around animals and why there is an abundance of food and trees in our bukid,” said Malinao. In supporting and following her father’s steps, the model says, “This year, my Farmer Papa and I are joining forces. I will help him develop his love for raising animals and he will help me develop my coconut farm while I am in Manila.” She added that what they will produce in the farm will be both for their consumption, for selling, and community sharing.
View this post on Instagram
My ever supportive Firefighting Farmer Papa Alvin! He is the reason why I like being around animals and why there is an abundance of food and trees in our bukid. In his younger years, he used to sell a sack of rice and a bunch of Banana (grown by my grandparents) so he can support his college education. Sipag! When he became a fireman, he moved to Davao City and and there my brother and I were born and raised. Growing up, I watched him grow chickens and vegetables in our small backyard. I’ve seen chickens mate (hahahahahaha), lay eggs and even observe in detail how an egg hatches! Parang National Geographic moment yun! Now, 2020. It’s been 8 years since we moved in his hometown. My Papa still inspires me. His chickens and ducks are now larger in numbers, roaming freely and still hatching eggs naturally. This year, my Farmer Papa and I are joining forces. I will help him develop his love for raising animals and he will help me develop my coconut farm while I am in Manila. He is very excited to grow more fruit trees, vegetables, and raise more native animals that we can consume, sell and share to our community. Papa, my very hardworking Papa, we are so proud of you! We love you! Let’s Go farming! Let’s support our farmer parents! Ipanghambog ug i empower nato sila! #farmingisTHEFUTURE #iamproudofmyfarmerparent
Bringing farming closer to the city
In the Metro, she also made an empty balcony flourish into an edible forest during the time of community quarantine. She grows several vegetables like sitaw, okra, chili, and ampalaya. In one Instagram story, she wrote, “Goal is to fill this balcony with food. This is my first attempt for balcony gardening.”
View this post on Instagram
Swipe right for an #IndayGarden surprise! Planted these Sitaw from seeds, ngayon may bunga na! Yehey! Panaghan pamo ha kay himoon nya tamong Adobong Batong. 😊 How’s your garden mga Dong ug mga Dai. Update me sa comments. ♥️ Happy Sunday everyone!@huaweimobileph #GratefulSunday #PlantPlantPlant #Batong #Sitaw #LongBeans #GrowYourOwnFood #FoodSecurity
Malinao suggests people living in the rural areas to get free seeds in their municipalities or barangays and for city dwellers to regrow kitchen scraps like sibuyas dahon, kangkong, camote tops, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic at home. As per the model, growing her food has been therapeutic; watching the seeds sprout gives her a sense of hope, helping her wipe out the fears of uncertainty. She added, “I guess this is the feeling of #FOODSECURITY”
The story of Malinao shows that farming can be fun and cool. However, this model shouldn’t be alone to be the voice of our local farmers; behind small and big advocacies are the vibrant future of agriculture if we, regardless of status, continue to educate more people about the importance of food security.