Fisherfolk harvests hope
As the dawn gives way to the rising sun, the fisherfolks in the municipality of Padre Burgos, Quezon are already battling the raging waves of the Philippine Sea to begin their early morning harvest, hoping that they may get a sizeable catch for their families waiting for them in the coast.
For these fisherfolks, a bad day for fishing is an indication that their family must skip meals. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2015, the sector has a poverty incidence of 34%, the highest among other livelihood sectors. Those who are literally living off the sea are the ones drowning in poverty.
Among those who rise early is Nelson Angeles, known as Mang Boy by his fellow fishermen. With fishing as his only known livelihood all his life, Mang Boy has been adept to this daily routine.
"Nung nagsimula kaming mangisda, kami po ay umutang ng PHP 5,000 para makabili ng second-hand na bangka. Nasira lang po siya at dahil wala kaming pambili ng panibago, nakigamit na lamang po ako sa mayroong bangka," he narrated.
Life was tough as Mang Boy struggled to look for other sources of income. Fishing is a seasonal livelihood, with little fish to catch from November to March because of the northeast monsoon or “amihan”.
“Ako at ang aking misis ay laging namomroblema kung papaano ang aming pang-araw-araw na gastusin. Nakatapos na po ng high school ang anak namin na hindi kami nakabili ng uniporme, puro bigay lang ng kapitbahay," he said.
Enterprise development through Team Aqua
Life turned around for Mang Boy when he became a member of Team Aqua, a group organized by Yakap at Halik Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Quezon (Yakap at Halik) to manage projects that will generate extra income for fisherfolks in Padre Burgos, Agdangan, and Unisan.
In partnership with the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), team Aqua built fish cages and fishpond managed now by Mang Boy and other members of the group. These fishpond and cages yield a variety of fish such as bangus, grouper, lapu-lapu, mudcrab, and sugpo.
“Ngayon, buong maghapon ay may pagkakataon ka ng kumita. Kung sakaling walang gaanong mahuhuli sa dagat, nandito ako para magtrabaho, 340 arawan. Kung kaya pa ng katawan ko na mag-overtime, umaabot ng 500 ang kinikita ko kada araw. Dagdag pa yung sa dagat,” Mang Boy said.
“Sa totoo lang po yung katulad po namin ay hindi kayang bumili ng ganoong (bagong) bangka. Sa tulong po ng PEF at a Yakap at Halik nagkaroon po ako nito,” Mang Boy said.
Mang Boy mused that his membership with team Aqua has changed his life for the better.
“Mula nang mapapunta ako sa team Aqua, nakabili na si misis ng tatlong baboy at nakapagtayo siya ng maliit na tindahan. Kumuha din po kami ng isang tricycle na dinown ko para mayroon ng service si misis sa pamimili (ng kanyang ititinda),” he added.
With the inspiring story of Mang Boy and other fisherfolks in Quezon, PEF strives to create positive change in poor Filipino households through social enterprises.