Tsinoy Bangkabuhayan project for Samar: Rowing to a brighter future

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 27, no. 6 (August 19-September 8, 2014): 12.

July was a month of community giving. Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran Inc., through its Tsinoy Bangkabuhayan Project, collaborated with Health Futures Foundation, Inc. to provide 100 motorized fiberglass pumpboats and 100 sets of fishing implements to 1,069 fisherfolk survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) from Samar and Eastern Samar.

The project was born out of the recognition that a community needs strong means of support and resources to be sustainable. This became very apparent after Yolanda devastated communities and left them without the means to rebuild their lives.

Communities most badly damaged by the typhoon are fishing villages. Equipment for fishing – such as boats and fishing nets – were washed out or damaged during the storm.

Beneficiaries of the Tsinoy Bangkabuhayan Project in Ajuy.

The provision of pumpboats will not only help restore the fisherfolk’s livelihood but will also contribute to existing efforts to protect the source of their livelihood.

Turnover ceremonies were held on July 8 for beneficiaries in Guiuan and Salcedo. Local government officials, beneficiaries and representatives from Kaisa donors and HFI were there.

July 29 saw beneficiaries from Marabut, Giporlos, Quinapondan and Lawaan receive their pumpboats. The program consisted of remarks from various stakeholders, declaration of the pledge of commitment by the beneficiaries and signing of the Memorandum of Agreement and the community paddle.

Beneficiaries of the Tsinoy Bangkabuhayan Project hail from 57 barangays in seven municipalities: one barangay in Marabut, seven barangays in Lawaan and Balangiga, 13 barangays in Giporlos, three barangays in Quinapondan, 21 barangays in Salcedo and 12 barangays in Guiuan. These municipalities are among the most devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, and in dire need of help for livelihood rehabilitation.

Beneficiaries of the Tsinoy Bangkabuhayan Project in Lawaan.

Most of the beneficiaries belong to 32 people’s organizations in target areas. These are people who are committed to protecting marine sanctuaries in their respective locales. Guiuan Development Foundation Inc. assisted Health Futures Foundation Inc. in identifying these people’s organizations, and holding sustainable fishing seminars to all beneficiaries.

#Project110813 manufactured the boats and trained people on assembling the motor as well as boat maintenance and repair.

The outpouring of gratitude and joy from fisherfolk and their families with the boats was overwhelming: “Nagpapasalamat kami na nabigyan kami ng mga pumpboat na ita para magamit naming sa pagmo-monitor sa sanctuary namin. Ang epekto niyan, maiiwasan natin iyong mga naghahanapbuhay ng illegal, mga nanghuhuli ng isda (We are thankful that we finally have our own pumpboats which we can use to monitor the sanctuary in our area. Through these, we will be able to prevent other fishermen who may try to employ illegal fishing methods or catch fish in the protected marine sanctuaries).” — Ceries Abayan, Betaog Association for Livelihood and Environmental Management.

“Maraming, maraming salamat. Malaking bagay na itong mga bangkang ito na ibinigay sa mga PO, na pang-monitor ng sa aming kabuhayan at sanctuary… Magkakaroon ng magandang environment ang ating mga sanctuary, magkakaroon ng magandang hanapbuhay at dadami ang mga isda” (Thank you very, very much. The boats will be a big help to us in our livelihood and in monitoring the marine sanctuaries. This will contribute to a better environment in the area which will positively affect our livelihoods since there will be more and better fish to be caught).” — Lorenzo Elejido, Anak Dagat Fisherfolks Association, Lawaan, Eastern Samar.

“Malaking tulong po yan sa ‘min kasi maraming bangka ang nasira nung bagyo. Malaking tulong po yan sa pagbabalik ng kabuhayan ng mga mangingisda (The boats will be a big help to us because a lot of boats were destroyed during the storm. These will greatly help us in recovering the livelihood of the fisherfolk).” — Romulo Fabillar, San Isidro, Giporlos, Eastern Samar

Beneficiaries of the Tsinoy Bangkabuhayan Project in Batad.

“Nagpapasalamat kami at natutuwa dahil malaking bagay para sa aming pangkabuhayan ang magkaroon ulit ng bangka. Lalo na ngayon wala na kaming mapagkokoprahan na isa sa mga pangunahing pinagkukunan namin ng kabuhayan dahil naubos na ang mga puno ng niyog (We are grateful and gladdened because having boats again has a big impact on our livelihood. We are more reliant on fishing now that we cannot pursue the other source of our income due to the destroyed coconut trees).” — Various fisherfolk of Asgad, Salcedo, Eastern Samar.

The fisherfolk of Samar were left crippled after Yolanda swept away everything they had, including the things that would help them recover.

Through this project, Kaisa and HFI have given the fisherfolk the necessary tools to help them in their efforts to not only regain their lost livelihoods but to aspire to become more self-reliant and sustainable with their livelihood.

Through the “pay-it-forward” component of the project, the beneficiaries have committed to implementing initiatives in their community such as savings or investment schemes to purchase new nets or fund the maintenance of the boats.

The boats are not just means of livelihood for them but also symbols of hope and new life. Truly, the boats serve as their rainbow after Yolanda’s devastation.

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