Indigenous People's Month: The Social Life of Coffee

In the Philippines, we celebrate the National Indigenous Peoples (IP) Month every October pursuant to Proclamation No. 1906, which was signed in 2009. This is mandated by the Constitution for the "recognition and protection of the rights of Indigenous Cultural  Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs)."  

Happy National Indigenous People’s Month! 

As we share our mutual love for coffee here at Yama, we would like to extend our advocacy to our little community. Coffee is social and political - to you, me, and the Indigenous People (IP). 

We’re sure that by now, we already know how our IPs have long contributed to our nation’s identity and economic prosperity. But how? 

This is what we’ve been learning since before we started Yama, and allow us to share them with you.

The Ibaloi community produces our TUBA and ATOK Single Origin Coffee. They are the indigenous group in Camp 1 & Camp 3,Tuba and Caliking, Atok, respectively. These beans that you brew and drink are deeply connected to their community’s hearts, souls, and livelihoods.  

The producer of our ATOK Single Origin is part of the Ibaloi community in Caliking, Benguet. / Photo courtesy of ACOGMAC

Coffee is Social

Coffee is social. There was a community or individual who grew your coffee… It’s more than just a bag of beans from a store. These people have names, lives, and all the personal complexities you have and I have. They grow your morning coffee. 

So, your every sip is decisive participation in their livelihood, our national economy, and worldwide economy. Though unaware, and though you don't know these people personally, you are already participating in thousands of personal relationships.

Our mission in Yama is to narrate the stories of our very own producers who depend on you and me for the sustenance of their livelihood.

They told us that some cooperatives and farmers struggled to sell all of their green coffee beans, especially when the pandemic started. And since then, we’ve been taking part in helping them preserve the coffee practices that they have been doing since ancient times! 

And you, as a consumer, play a significant role in this complex social life of coffee. 

Coffee is Political

Coffee is also political.. And no, we’re not just talking about the kind of politics we know. 

What you drink speaks about your political view and values—knowing where your coffee came from matters; understanding how they treat our farmers behind the scenes of trading coffee matters. 

Let’s not forget: coffee is grown in the tropics by the rural less fortunate, but the former colonial powers mainly consumed them. 
For decades, the coffee industry primarily benefited the large companies and corporations that rule it. But the farmers and producers who do most of the work? Overshadowed. 

When we say, “we want to ensure that the carefully curated selection of coffee is meant for you”, we are saying that we made personal relationships with the people who made your coffee. 

We listened to their stories in order to narrate their lives to you as we continue to trade with the farmers ethically. 

More than your pampagising sa umaga, your coffee has always been social and political. 

A cup from us is to be involved in the ancient history of the Ibaloi community. A cup from us is a support to our advocacies.

A cup from Yama is a yes to ethical coffee cultivation.

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