The City Government of Muntinlupa taps the Department of Labor and Employment through its regional office in the National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR) to help improve the livelihood of their 8 out 9 fisherfolk barangays residing along the shorelines of Laguna de Bay. The launching of the Bangka Project on August 4, 2022 was DOLE-NCR’s first time in history as led and graced by (bottom photo, from left) Muntinlupa City Mayor Rufino Biazon (1st), Congressman Jaime Fresnedi (2nd), PESO Manager Glenda Z. Aninon (3rd), DOLE Undersecretary Atty. Benjo Santos Benavidez (on behalf of Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma; 4th), DOLE-NCR Regional Director Atty. Sarah Buena S. Mirasol (5th), and DOLE-NCR MUNTAPARLAS Field Office Director Leonides P. Castillon, Jr. (Photo by Gladys Lopez / IMSD)

 

Metro Manila, Philippines—For the Munti fisherfolk, a new motorized ‘Bangka’ (boat) also means improved productivity—hoping for a faster, better catch and increased in earnings.

Lawrence Protacio can finally break free from the boat rental fees.

“Bumabayad ako sa halagang 300 pesos kada lingo pang-upa sa bangka,” said the 33-year old father of four children and a member of a local fisherfolk council in Barangay Buli, Muntinlupa City.

While fishing may be a leisure to some, Lawrence does it for a living.

“Simula pa noong taong 1995 ako nangingisda kasi sinasama ako ng lolo ko noong bata pa ako kaya ‘yun na talaga yung kinalakihan ko,” he said.

He, together with his 14 comrades, have been fishing in Laguna de Bay to put food on tables for their families.

They usually set out in groups of seven, using a traditional boat or what they call “Lunday” or “Bangkang De Sagwan.”

Looking forward to an abundant catch and adequate income from their prospective buyers in the local market, Lawrence’s group—Barangay Buli – Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (FARMC)—would always rent additional boats to speed things up so that the first batch can sail before sunrise while the other during the afternoon.

“Lingguhan po yung kita namin,” he said when asked about when and how much they earn.

The group equally divides their earnings. Each member, whoever fished that week, gets at least 1000 pesos but the pay depends on the number of catch—Tilapia fish being the most frequent.

“Kung mas marami [ang huli ng isda], mas maganda pero ‘pag kaunti, ayun po yung pinaka minimum talaga,” he said.

After getting his pay for their entire week of fishing, Lawrence then sets aside savings for his family, boat rental fee, and another for some repair works in case of emergency.

“…minsan kapag nagkakaroon ng diperensya, kailangan din ng pambayad para sa maintenance…Kapag may konting sira yung bangka—kung kanino abutin—siya ang gagastos [ng pagpapaayos],” he said.

The City of Muntinlupa, being situated on the southwestern coast of Laguna de Bay, also shares responsibility in preserving the lake’s ecosystem and aquatic life, alongside other barangays bordering the lake such as in Taguig City that is also in Metro Manila and the provinces in the CALABARZON Region.

The Lake’s abundant natural resources had been providing livelihood opportunities for the Muntinlupeños. Among them are fishing communities such as in Barangay Buli. Other fisherfolk residing along the shorelines of the lagoon such as in Barangays Alabang, Bayanan, Sucat, Putatan, Cupang, Tunasan, and Poblacion—that’s 8 out of 9 Muntinlupa City barangays in total—have also reaped the lake’s benefits to make ends meet.

Considering the lake’s significant contribution towards economic progress of their City, the local government unit (LGU) of Muntinlupa, through its Public Employment Service Office (PESO), Lake Management Office (LMO), and Municipal FARMC, have sought the assistance of the Department of Labor and Employment through its regional office in the National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR) to help improve the livelihood of their fisherfolk.

The LGU’s request to the labor department began in October 2021 during an awarding ceremony of various DOLE assistance for their constituents at the Muntinlupa City Sports Complex. Then Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, who led said activity, asked the LGU officials of any DOLE-specific aid for their communities.

And so the first boat project for the Munti fisherfolk was born.

Upon go signal from the former labor chief, DOLE-NCR Director Atty. Sarah Buena S. Mirasol led the procurement of the boats and other related equipment in coordination with DOLE-NCR MUNTAPARLAS Field Office Director Leonides P. Castillon, Jr. and Muntinlupa City LGU’s PESO Manager, Ms. Glenda Z. Aniñon.

The Munti fisherfolk’s much awaited dream was realized on August 4, 2022, during the turnover ceremony of the “Bangka Project for the 8 Barangays in Muntinlupa” led by its City Government and DOLE officials at the Bayanan Baywalk.

The eight barangays, including Barangay Buli FARMC, received package of assistance worth over 1.4 million livelihood grant in total that came with eight 30-feet fiberglass boats, eight 23-feet fiberglass boats, eight 7.5-HP marine engines, eight 20-HP marine engines, twenty four pieces life jackets, and forty pieces raincoats.


BA-BYE BOAT RENTAL FEES: Mr. Lawrence Protacio (standing at the back, center) with his comrades from Barangay Buli FARMC now owns one 30-feet fiberglass boat, one 23-feet fiberglass boat, one 7.5-HP marine engine, one 20-HP marine engine, three pieces of life jackets, and five pieces of raincoats. Other seven Barangay FARMCs in Muntinlupa City such as in Alabang, Bayanan, Sucat, Putatan, Cupang, Tunasan, and Poblacion got the same package of assistance from the government. The boats, according to FARMC Federation President, Miguel C. Lopeña, Jr., shall be also utilized for rescue operations of the Muntinlupa LGU. (Photo by Gladys Lopez / IMSD)

 

LAGUNA LAKE TOUR WITH THE MUNTINLUPA LGU AND DOLE OFFICIALS: The City of Muntinlupa, being situated at the southwestern coast of Laguna de Bay, also shares responsibility in preserving the lake’s ecosystem and aquatic life, alongside other barangays bordering the lake such as in Taguig City that is also in Metro Manila and the provinces in the CALABARZON Region. (Photo by Gladys Lopez / IMSD)

 

In his message to all the fisherfolk-beneficiaries, DOLE Undersecretary Atty. Benjo Santos Benavidez said the government grant is not only a ‘life-saving device’ but also a ‘livelihood-giving device’ for the communities and should therefore be taken with utmost care. He further assured the Muntinlupa LGU that the labor department will continue to monitor, assist, and to provide livelihood enhancement services should the fisherfolk-beneficiaries show evidences of growth and sustainability of the livelihood aid.

“…so in behalf po ng aming kalihim na si Secretary Benny Laguesma, kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa Pamahalaang Lungsod ng Muntinlupa sa pagtangkilik ng aming mga programa. Nandyan naman po ang PESO at tuloy-tuloy po ang ating ugnayan. Hindi po nagtatapos ang ating proyekto sa paglungsad o sa pagbigay ng mga bangkang ito. Itutuloy po natin ito, atin po ito at sana pagyamanin po natin ito,” he added.

Before receiving the government assistance, Lawrence’s group and other Barangay FARMCs also underwent a DOLE social preparation seminar, as re-echoed by their FARMC Federation President Miguel C. Lopeña, Jr.

“Tinuruan din muna kami kung paano ang tamang pagpapatakbo nito [bangka project] at tamang procedure sa paglilista ng mga gastusin at kinita…” said Lawrence.

 

Lawrence Protacio (left) and Miguel C. Lopeña, Jr. (right). (Photo by Gladys Lopez / IMSD)

 

From that moment on, fishing at the Laguna de Bay will never be the same for Lawrence.

“Ngayon na may sarili na kaming bangka, ito po ay aming aalagaan at pagyayamanin para na rin po sa aming pamilya…”

“Natutuwa kami at hindi na kami uupa ng bangka…malaking tulong po itong binigay ng gobyerno dahil ito po ay maraming idadagdag sa aming kita pang araw-araw kaya ako ay nagpapasalamat sa DOLE-NCR, sa City Government of Muntinlupa, LMO, sa FARMC…” he said.

END / Hershey Aquino