Diosdado Legaspino, who hailed from the islet of Bantayan town, was chosen as the regional fisher folk director.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7 Director Andres Bojos swore in Legaspino and the newly appointed provincial directors in the region on May 2 at the BFAR 7 building in Cebu City.
Legaspino received P100,000 funds from BFAR that he can use to further develop or implement more fishing projects.
The selection of fisher folk directors was in pursuant to the Department of Agriculture Special Order No. 88 Series of 2005. This encourages partnership with fisher folks in promoting and implementing the agency’s programs to the community.
Legaspino, 54, is a father of four children who all have finished their college studies. He is one of the few successful fishermen who made his fortune mainly out of fishing.
Legaspino started out as an ordinary fisherman. “Pait pas tanang pait ang among kahimtang sauna kay nagsugod mis ordinaryo nga panagat. Kanang ang akong pamilya, ako ray gipaabot kung pilay akong makita sa dagat, mao ray ako ikasuporta sa pamilya,” he said, recalling his early days of regular fishing when his family heavily depended on him for his income.
“Bisag unsa ka dako o kagamay sa among kita, naay gyud miy savings. Hangtod nga nagplano jud ko nga dili hangtod sa hangtod mananagat ra jud ko (No matter how much we earn, we always have savings. Eventually, I realized that I cannot be a fisherman forever),” he added.
Previously, Legaspino said, municipal waters of Bantayan had bountiful kinds of fishes. He said he had even tried to catch 50 kilos of fish in one day. That is, until its abundance was gradually diminished due to increasing number of fishermen and population. He further stated that illegal fishing also drove the fishes away from the nearby waters.
In 2007, Legaspino built a fish cage as an experiment. His fingerlings were sourced from the wild caught in fish traps.
“Akong gi sud ang mga semilya sa tangkal-tangkal unya sulod sa usa ka buwan nitubo man siya, moang nagtukod mig usa ka cage. Sulod sa upat ngadto sa unom ka buwan naka harvest mi, amo na pud gigamit ang halin pagpatukod ug laing cages (The fingerlings grew after a month in the cage so we built a better fish cage. Within four to six months, we were able to harvest fishes, the income from which we used to build more cages),” he said.
When typhoon Yolanda struck in 2013, all the 16 fish cages of Legaspino as well as his seaweed farms were wiped out. Including the cost of the destroyed pump boats, he estimated his losses to the typhoon at P7 million.
Legaspino was one of the fisher folks in Bantayan who received intervention from BFAR and the Cebu Provincial Government after the Yolanda incident.
Through BFAR’s P33-million rehabilitation plan, the province as the implementing agency of the said plan, turned over nine floating grouper cages to individual fisher folks or fishermen’s associations in Bantayan. There were also three cages distributed in the town of Santa Fe and one in Madridejos last year.
For every cage provided by the rehabilitation plan, there were corresponding 3,000 fingerlings. However, Legaspino opted to get fingerlings that were caught in the wild. He explained that fingerlings from the hatchery have a high mortality rate.
Legaspino has already harvested a total of 4,000 groupers from two floating cages that he sold for P1 million. Live groupers were sold P500 to P550 per kilo. He said he applied the proceeds to build fixed cages again in Biagayag islet.
Legaspino was thankful to BFAR and to the province for the intervention. Legaspino said their lives are now back to normal more than two years after Yolanda.
From being an ordinary fisher folk, who left school for good as a second grader, Legaspino has metamorphosed into a big time aqua farmer and a squid dealer in the islet.