At the heart of this country lies the farmer – humble despite his vital national role yet firm in his social task. Quietly, he toils every day for the country. And for many years, he kept his silence, his voice hidden in the cracks of the soil he plows. The success of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) lies in motivating the farmer to liberate himself from the chains of injustice. Fifty golden years into its history, the FFF, one of the country’s largest peasant organizations, has given the Filipino peasantry hope in uplifting the depressed conditions in the countryside. The FFF is anchored on the principle that the farmer is the backbone of the nation; his work on the land is central to the economy. Despite their huge contributions to the country, however, farmers often fall prey to abusive landlords and traders. Thus, the FFF promotes the philosophy of total human development by helping the farmers acquire the legal help, political strength, economic power, and religious conviction that would help bring about their freedom from bondage and servility.

For the FFF, self-reliance is the key to a solid organization of peasants, by the peasants, and for the peasants. This framework has earned the FFF the sustained support of thousands of peasants and other rural workers. The FFF has been instrumental in the passage of laws and implementation of programs that aided the peasants in their struggle for social justice. These include the Agricultural Tenancy Act (Republic Act 1199), the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963 (RA 3844), and the Code of Agrarian Reforms (RA 6389). But what gives a unique identity to the FFF is a truly Filipino ideology that is based on Christian social teachings which has been rigorously ingrained in its members. Against the backdrop of centuries of hardship and poverty affecting Filipino farmers, the history of the FFF is one rich in resistance to injustice and perseverance in achieving lasting reform. With its 50th anniversary theme, “Gintong Kasaysayan tungo sa Gintong Kinabukasan,” the FFF sounds the call to renew and continue its spirited journey into the next half-century.

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“We shall teach the masses the mysteries of the Sacred Host but we must first begin with a grain of rice. We shall teach them the lessons of the Cross. But we must first begin with the plow.”

– Jeremias U. Montemayor
FFF Founder and President
Commencement Address to the 1954 Class of the Ateneo de Tugeugarao

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“More than 30 years na ako sa samahan, 1969 ako pumasok. Marami sa mga kasama ko ang namatay na Pero marami rin sa mga kasama natin buhay pa ngayon pero patay na ang espiritu sa samahan. Pero ako kahit na wala na akong hininga, FFF pa rin ako! Ang sabi ko nga, sana ang Panginoon ang pagkuha sa akin ay ‘lump sum’ hindi ‘20-20.’ Kasi ang inalis muna Niya sa akin ang paningin ko. Pero maski ganito ako at kung sa mga susunod na seminar ay hindi na ako makadalo, ang espiritu ko ang makakasama niyo. Kahit na patay na ako, FFF pa rin ako.”

– Edito Manco
FFF member

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“Yung ideology pala natin, na dito ko lang nalaman, yung Love, Truth and Justice. Yun talaga ang tema ng organization e. Bakit ka nag-join ng FFF? Gusto ko kasi yung katotohanan, pagmamahalan, at hustisya. So kung nasa iyo yung tatlo na iyon… Malawak na ang ibig sabihin noon… Almost complete na. Biro mo sa isang organization, bakit ka nandadaya, e di walang hustisya. Yung dinadaya mo, ibig sabihin noon, wala ka ring pagmamahal doon. At siyempre dinadaya mo, walang katotohanan yung sinasabi mo palagi. Kaya yung Love, Truth, and Justice na pinagtututunan natin, na pinagsesentrohan natin, nandoon na yun talaga. Saan naman galing yun? Kung meron kang pag-ibig, nasa iyo ang Panginoon. Hindi ba sa Panginoon din yung Love, Truth and Justice?”

– Saturnino Distor
FFF member

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“Ang nakita ko, ang FFF ay dumedepensa sa mga kapus-palad. So parang doon ako nakumbinse. Yung para sa masa kasi. Palibhasa, born mahirap tayo. Yun ideolology ng FFF maliwanag. Hindi katulad ng ibang samahan na seasonal. Samahan lang sila pag may problema. Samahan lang sila pag may ipinaglalaban. Pero FFF sa tingin ko, nung umpisa pa lang e, nakumbinse kaagad ako na ito’y pang habang-buhay. Hindi lang siya pana-panahon. Ang isa pang nakakumbinse sa akin, e yung walang itinatanggi. Kahit na sabihing ikaw ay mahirap, basta nandoon ka sa hanay ng peasant group, welcome ka doon sa FFF. Basta hindi lang siya nag-exploit ng kapwa.”

– Leonilo Binalangbang
FFF member

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“The mind of the farmer now lies smoldering in disillusionment. But his spirit has not been broken. He looks around for a new hope, a new leadership.”

– Jeremias U. Montemayor
FFF Founder and President
Commencement Address to the 1954 Class of the Ateneo de Tuguegarao

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“Malaking bagay ‘yong entry ng Federation of Free Farmers. Kasi what is spirituality kung wala kang witnessing. Kung wala kang ginawa sa kapwa mo? What is your spirituality? Almost nothing. That is what gives meaning to life.”

– Imelda de la Cruz
pioneering teacher of Maryknoll High School in Sigaboy, Davao Oriental

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“Sabi ni Fr. Pio (Eugenio), ‘Pag-aralan mo ito, itong Bible na ito… heto pa ang karagdagan.’ ‘Ano yan?’ ‘Mater et Magistra.’ ‘Baka di ko maintindihan yan?’ ‘Hindi, Tagalog yan.’ Binasa-basa ko yong Bibliya at yong papal encyclical na ‘Mater et Magistra.’ Nakita ko sa Bibliya na yong trabaho ko sa una kong samahan, malayo pala sa katotohanan. At ‘yong ginagawa ng FFF, nakita ko sa ‘Mater et Magistra’. Eto pala ang linya ng FFF”

– Miguel Cruz
Former FFF Rizal President
Taken from his speech to the Workers for Christ the Worker (WCW)
in Bayambang, Pangasinan in 1986

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“You felt that you were doing something very relevant for the country.”

– Munsayac-Bulatao
FFF student-volunteer Sally

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“Tinuro sa amin ni Dean na maging consistent ka sa principles mo. Kung sasabihin mo na pagka pula, pula, hindi maka-violet. Hanggang ngayon, I’m trying to live up to it. Kasi nakita namin eh. Sa mga paglalaban namin sa mga land cases, walang compromise. Ang dami-dami naming napa-titulo – sa Quezon, sa Mindanao…!”

– Asuncion Nacario
FFF officer

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“…During that time, talagang high sa kwan eh… talagang, parang, change the world (ang pakiramdam)! Marami, marami…’yong buong context sa FFF talagang, maka-convince sa iyo eh. ‘Yong pilosopiya. ‘Yong philosophy of organization. ‘ Yong Christianity. Eh doon na nagumpisa. Naging organizer ako. Pulis na naging organizer!”

– Edito Manco
FFF Biliran member

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“Filipinos in general knew only one kind of group business enterprise – the corporation (aside from the partnership)… By contrast, a cooperative is supposed to have much more numerous members, specially coming from the poorer sectors of society.”

– Jeremias U. Montemayor
FFF Founder and President

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“Lupa, ito’y mahalaga. This belongs to God the creator. Binuo, pero he entrusted it to the people who can work closely with nature. Kailangan, in harmony with nature. Do not go against nature!”

– Felicisimo Patayan
FFF Davao member

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“While the smaller and lower sectors and individuals should be allowed and encouraged to do what they can do for and by themselves, yet there are certain essential tasks that cannot be performed by any of them acting singly or separately… The principle of Solidarity is an antidote to the evils of individualism and separatism.”

– from “Toward a Filipino Ideology”

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“The FFF is an organization set-up by farmers as an instrument which they can use to solve their own problems… because the FFF was established by the farmers, is maintained by the farmers, and is directed by the farmers… This means that it is the farmers themselves who will work out and bring about their own liberation.”

– Jeremias U. Montemayor
FFF Founder and President