How agriculture saved a former US soldier
MANILA, Philippines – When former United States Air Force policeman Patrick Taylor settled in the Philippines in 2013, he faced many challenges in adapting to Manila life.
In his article on X, he recounted how he had severe drinking and depression issues and was extremely overweight.
"I was a toxic person to be around and really hated myself and the world that was around me. One day I just asked myself what am I doing here and I just had basically hit rock bottom I wanted to die," Taylor said.
He got so low that he would just lock himself because he couldn't function around other people.
He tried to recover one last time. Taylor didn't consume alcohol, cigarettes, and fast food for a year. He lost 120 pounds by going to the gym and keeping a healthy lifestyle, but he still had issues with the people in Manila.
A sabbatical to Mindanao
Taylor got tired of city life. He came to Mindanao to take a breather. In July 2015, his journey brought him to Davao, where he received his national certification 2 in organic agriculture.
"While I was learning [agriculture], I was wondering what I could do with [it] to make the biggest impact that I possibly could," Taylor said.
He added: "Near the end of the course I had an idea to take what I learned and help those that needed it the most. To me it would be the best way to practice what I had learned."
Coming from the midwest area of the United States, Taylor was exposed to agriculture but was never involved in it.
His plans pushed through and this is how Hybrid Agriculture was born. He came back to Ozamiz City and initially worked with private families to help them "harness the potential of their land."
"Hybrid was never about money. I never got paid for what I did. I set out to prove that one man can make a difference. I am not an NGO or a missionary, just someone who was sick of seeing all the negative in the world," he said.
The name Hybrid came from what his classmates in the agriculture course called Taylor. He was called "hybrid" due to the fact that a white farmer was a rarity in Mindanao.
A few months after he started Hybrid Agriculture, Taylor found himself in the mountains, in a barangay called Guingona. Given his friendship with the elementary school's principal, he made a proposition to the barangay – that he would help them set up a feeding garden at the school as well as the means to sustain it.
Guingona is inhabitated by the Subanon tribe who are known farmers.
"I started immersing and living up in the mountains with them in October. I work when they do, I do not receive special treatment when they fetch water or firewood," Taylor said.
In 17 days, Taylor put up a compost pile, taught multiple classes on applied organic farming technologies, and taught the school kids English, Math, and planting the school's gardens.
"I wanted to understand how the people that suffer the most yet consistently have the best attitudes towards life see the world. In essence I wanted to empathize as much as I could with them," Taylor said on X.
Taylor continues to post practical organic agriculture information on his Facebook page. He says it's a big part of his advocacy to give information to those who need it, free of charge.
"I really believe that I found my humanity when I gave up the conveniences of modern life. I see people who have nothing in terms of material yet they are the happiest people I have ever seen. I endeavor to tell their stories in the most non-biased true-to-what-I-see manner," he concluded. – Rappler.com
For those who wish to follow Patrick Taylor's advocacy, you can visit the page at Hybrid Agricultural Empowerment.
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