A Farmer’s Best Friend
by Oliver Carlos
In the Philippines, the carabao is a mainstay in many farming households, especially in the old days. That’s why it was declared by the Americans as our national animal in the early 1900s. When the Americans first arrived here, they declared several national symbols for us, based on what they saw common in the surroundings. Together with the carabao, our “original” national symbols were the narra (tree), maya (bird), bangus (fish), and sampaguita (flower). But in the recent times, I have observed that elementary schools now teach a different set of national symbols. The ones mentioned above are now replaced by the coconut, Philippine eagle, Pandaca pygmea, and waling-waling, respectively, with the tamaraw taking the place of the carabao as the national animal. When I was in Grade 5, I remember a coin series featuring or popularizing the new set of national symbols.
Farming using carabaos is an age-old technology in our country. Our ancestors have been doing this since the pre-colonial times. Believe it or not, I still see many farms these days that use carabaos for plowing and other farm chores. This is amid a modern world wherein many countries now employ mechanized farming. But here in the Philippines, the carabao is still the farmer’s ever-reliable faithful friend.
In the Bible times, when the economy was likewise agricultural, they also had a beast of burden to help out in the farm. There weren’t carabaos in Bible land or in the Middle East, what they had were oxen. But the principle is the same- the ox pulls the plow as the farmer guides it.
There are several verses in the Bible that mention oxen, and there’s one that I find very practical and relevant to all of us, even to those who don’t own a pet carabao. Let’s read Proverbs 4:14 (ICB):
“When there are no oxen, there is no food in the barn. But with the strength of an ox, much grain can be grown.”
This passage teaches a key on how to be successful in our profession. It tells us to invest in the tool of our trade and appreciate them by being good managers of these resources.
Firstly, we must realize that we cannot do our work all alone. Try plowing your field with just your bare hands. It will take you ages to finish just that one task. Whatever your field is, you’ll need tools. If you’re a tricycle driver, you’ll need a tricycle. If you’re a carpenter, you’ll need a hammer. If you’re a fisherman, you’ll need a boat and a net. If you’re a pro athlete, you’ll need shoes, clothes and equipment for your sport. If you’re a teacher or student, you’ll need a laptop and strong internet connection. It’s a must to spend or invest in our “tools.” Don’t see it as a waste of money because the return of investment is surely greater. The essence of the verse is this: No ox, no food. Much ox power, much harvest.
Secondly, we must take care of our “tools” so that they would last long and serve us to the max. If you don’t maintain your tricycle, if you don’t clean your hammer, net, and computer, they will bog down, and you can’t use them anymore. If you don’t treat your carabao well, you will lose your work buddy. If you have people under you, take good care of them. Remember the verse, it talks about the “strength” of an ox. We must maintain or keep the full strength of our resources, not allowing it to spiral down due to our mismanagement. This applies to physical tools, equipment, and personnel.
That’s the beautiful thing about the Bible. It teaches us lessons to make our livelihood more productive so that we’ll enjoy life to the fullest.