11 fiber glass boats ready to set sail in Buenavista

Eleven fiber glass boats that measure 30 ft long were recently turned over to a fisherfolk organization in Buenavista, Quezon. This is the result of the pilot implementation of the livelihood and enterprise (L&E) modality of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS).

The Samahan ng Mangingisda sa Coastal Areas ng Bayan ng Buenavista (SAMACAB) received a P1.7 million grant worth of skills training and materials for fiber glass boat fabrication. Among the 217 members of SAMACAB, 48 were able to attend the skills training. A total of 11 boats were distributed to 11 beneficiaries from the nine coastal barangays of the municipality.

Increasing the fisherfolks’ income

Kalahi-CIDSS L&E modality follows the community empowerment activity cycle. For the fiber glass boat fabrication project, the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) started by conducting participatory situational analysis and social investigation in the following coastal barangays: Bukal, Cabong, Cawa, Hagonghong, Mabutag, Manlana, Pinamasagan, Sabang Piris, and Wasay Ibaba.

The community volunteers, led by BSPMC Chairperson Jennifer Iglesia, have identified the major challenges faced by the fisherfolks; primarily, the high cost of boat and net rentals. Based on the result of their data gathering, the fisherfolks in Buenavista only take home P4,975 a month and that 5% of their income covers operational expenses.

SAMACAB President Edgardo Magpayo explained that their measly income is also due to the lack of opportunity to catch more fish as the boats they are using are too small to reach fishing grounds where the so-called first class fishes can be caught. Big fishes like blue marlin, pampano, and tanigue which can only be caught farther out to the sea.  Magpayo expressed confidence that with their new fiber glass boat local fisherfolk would have better opportunity to catch these fish and earn bigger for their family and community as well.

Test of commitment

This is the first time for Kalahi-CIDSS to implement L&E projects through the community-driven development approach. During its regular implementation, subproject grants were mostly for community infrastructures such as farm-to-market roads, health stations, and water systems. Among the five pilot projects in Quezon, Buenavista’s fiber glass boat project is the first to have an official turn over.

“We went through a lot of challenges. Tears were even shed.” DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS Regional L&E Coordinator Sheryl Cabrera said that it has been a difficult process that has tested the commitment of the members of SAMACAB.

“One thing we realized is that in livelihood projects, it is not just about the physical structure; more important is the readiness of the organization to operate and maintain the project,” she said.

SAMACAB went through a series of consultation with Kalahi-CIDSS, the local government unit of Buenavista, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to agree on the specifications of the boat and conceptualize a model for the sustainability of its operation and maintenance. This has led to the 15-day skills training provided by BFAR.

Anastacio B. Habagat was one of the SAMACAB members who shared their implementation experience during the turnover ceremony held in Brgy. Manlana. He was one of the fisherfolks who fabricated the boats through labor of love.

“The chemicals have strong odor that we had to endure and that irritated our hands,” Habagat said. “From the 48 who attended the skills training, only 23 were left,” he added.

Organizational strengthening

Baby Jean Roldan, another member and recipient of one of the boats, said that aside from the physical completion, SAMACAB also worked hard to develop the organization to ensure the sustainability of the project. SAMACAB went through a series of capacity-building activities that included the formulation of its constitution and by-laws and the drafting of the organization’s work plan.

Part of the requirements of the project grant is for the organization to secure its registration with the Department of Labor and Employment and its accreditation with the Municipal Council. Both of these were accomplished by SAMACAB before the project was officially turned over.

“The challenges we faced have strengthened our organization. I recalled that during those times, all we did was go back to the guidelines that we have set.” Roldan was pertaining to an encounter they had with some community fisherfolks whom SAMACAB had refused membership due to their illegal fishing activities.

“With our by-laws, we will not go astray. If any problems arise, we know that the organization could always sit down to resolve them.” Roldan said.

For his part, SAMACAB Pres. Magpayo, who is also a barangay kagawad, affirms the organization’s responsibility not just to its members but to the environment that has become the source of their livelihood.

“The sea has always been good to us. I was born to a family of fisherfolks and one of my son is also a fisherman. I would still encourage the younger generation to pursue fishing.”

Magpayo added that the Barangay Council has passed resolutions that mandate the fisherfolk community of Manlana to protect the coast. “That way, I could be at ease that my son’s children can still benefit from the bounty of the sea.” (Reposted from DSWD IV-CALABARZON)#