Fisher folks must be resilient

_IGP9908Fisher folks are the most vulnerable sector in terms of climate change. They must also be the most resilient ones.

Thus believed Allan Monreal, president of Damgo sa Kaugmaon Foundation Incorporated, a local non-government organization (NGO) based in the municipality of Bantayan, Cebu.

The foundation was responsible for the construction of 282 motorized and non-motorized boats that were distributed to the fisher folks across the three towns in the island: Bantayan, Madridejos, and Sta. Fe.

Monreal, who is also the president of Bantayan Island Association of Hotels, Resorts, Bars, and Restaurants, acknowledged the importance of fisher folks and even the farmers in their industry.

“An officer of the Department of Tourism asked me if we have already recovered from the typhoon. But how can we recover if our communities are still down? It’s a package deal,” he said.

It is for this reason, he continued, that aside from constructing and helping them repair their boats, Damgo is embarking on a capability-building program. He said it is aimed at making the fisher folks calamity-resilient by preparing them to be entrepreneurs.

Monreal explained that eventually the fisher folks would fully recover. But in the end, it must be an “ideal” recovery. They must add value at what they are doing; where they themselves would be the one to sell their catch or store and process it.

The foundation is present in 16 barangays in the island with around 1500 beneficiaries. The fisher folks were organized per barangay, where the help of the foundation is channeled.

Monreal is the son in law of retired Pilot Francisco Pachico. Pachico is a native of Bogo City and married a Bantayanon. Their family now owns the Bantayan Island Nature Park, a resort located in the coastal part of Barangay Tamiao, Bantayan.

Pachico recalled that at the start, what they are doing is only part of their corporate social responsibility as resort owners. He said that when typhoon Yolanda struck the island, their resort did not suffer major damage. In fact, their cottages remained standing even if most of them are made of light materials.

But seeing their fellow Bantayanons who were greatly devastated and demoralized by the disaster, they were compelled to help, he added.

Subsequently, their work was expanded. They formed the foundation, focused in addressing the needs of a thousand or more beneficiaries.

In his visit to Bantayan Island, President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino III praised and thanked the private sector and NGOs for their help. The President inspected at least 150 motorized and non-motorized boats that were already distributed to its beneficiaries. Xerxes Alkuino