A Non-Profit Organization

Carabao Serving Our Lord

in the Philippines

 

By: Verona Schuurmans

 

 

Pastor Jerry Jones, through his Rice Ministry, introduced Solemn Assembly to the need for providing Carabao to the Pastors in the Philippines. Through continued communication, as often as deemed needed, Solemn Assembly has sent the money for purchase of at least one Carabao, which has averaged about $500.00 per animal. The members of Solemn Assembly believe strongly that this makes a vital difference to the lives of our missionaries in the Philippines and we encourage your support in this endeavor. Donations can be made to “Solemn Assembly” in the form of a check or money order. Please note: “Carabao Fund” so that we can direct your money towards this project. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Carabao, here is a little information:

 

The carabao (Filipino: kalabaw) or Bubalus bubalis carabanesis is a domesticated subspecies of the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) found in the Philippines, Guam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and various parts of Southeast Asia. Carabaos are associated with farmers, being the farm animal of choice for pulling both a plow and the cart used to haul produce to the market.

Carabaos are indigenous to Southeast Asia. Adult carabaos weigh seven to eight hundred kilograms—almost 2,000 pounds—and have fairly long gray or black hair thinly covering their huge bodies. They have a tuft of hair on their forehead, and at the tip of their tail. Normally, they are silent and docile, but they will give a trembling snort if they are surprised.

 

Both male and female have massive horns. Since the carabao has no sweat glands, it cools itself by lying in a waterhole or mud during the heat of the day. Mud, caked on to its body, also protects it from bothersome insects.

The carabao eats grass and other vegetation, feeding mainly in the cool of the mornings and evenings. In some places of the world the carabao is a source of milk just like the cow, or it may be slaughtered for its hide and its meat. Its life span is 18 to 20 years and the female carabao can deliver one calf each year.

Water buffalo have been domesticated in the Philippines as far back as pre-Hispanic times and are often used by farmers in the Philippines to plow the fields and as a means of transportation. The carabao is one of the most important animals in the country, especially in agriculture. Carabao skin was once used extensively in the Philippines to create a variety of products, including the armor of pre-colonial Filipino warriors.

 

One of the many reasons for the failure of the attempted Japanese pacification of the Philippines during their 1941-1945 occupation was their indifference to the basics of the Filipino economy. The carabaos provided the necessary labor that allowed Filipino farmers to grow rice and other staples. Japanese army patrols would not only confiscate the rice but would also slaughter the carabos for meat, thereby preventing the farmers from growing enough rice to feed the large population. Before World War II, there were an estimated three million carabaos in the Philippines. By the end of the War it is estimated that nearly 70% of them had been lost.

 

The old “payatak” method of farming is still the method of choice in Northern Samar. The soil of the rice paddy is first softened with rainwater or diverted watershed, then the farmer guides a group of carabaos in trampling the planting area until it is soggy enough to receive the rice seedlings. This time consuming task produces lower yields and lower income when compared with the advancement in irrigated fields. In the late 1980s, the carabao puppet character Kardong Kalabaw became popular as a symbol of the Filipino people's hard work and sense of industry.

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