Haribon Foundation and the Social Enterprise Empowerment for Rural Development (SEED) teamed up to facilitate social enterprise workshops intended to assist local people’s organization (PO) and the KAAMPAKA’s members.
In Butuan City, about six hours away from Burgos by bus, our team scurried past the overcharging airport shuttle conductors to the main highway where we took a jeep ride to the bus station. Unfortunately, we had missed the last air-conditioned bus and were forced to take an alternate route.
After an extended journey, we found ourselves in the capital city of Surigao del Sur, Tandag. It was already around 9 p.m. when we scoured the area to find a place to eat and spend the night.
In the morning we finally found KAAMPAKA chairman Ben Dellosa’s humble abode in Burgos. Here, we also met with resident community organizer, Jun Callote. We then discussed our plans for the next few days. This included transect walks, key informant interviews and a series of gatherings with the PO members; all of which were geared towards finding suitable social enterprise opportunities given the available resources and skills the PO possessed.
As we began our walk through the quietly scenic provincial highway cutting through endless rice fields framed only by the mountain ranges and the endless sky, I took a in a deep breath and a sigh of release. I was back in the province, far away from the stress-filled, calorie-packed city life of Metro Manila. Sure I was here to work on a project with the PO members but the unfettered whistling of the cool wind and purring of the waves in the background made me feel that this trip was for a huge part for myself as well; a sweet retreat.
The initial transect walk reintroduced me to how rich Burgos actually was in natural resources. We had passed through hills down to the stony shore where the fisherfolks boats were located. We encountered a vendor of fish from which we had purchased some of our dinner. Passing through the town center, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the project because of the sheer abundance of resources this area possessed.
This feeling was later on enhanced during the gatherings with the members where SEED founder Earl Parenno along with companions Espie Oebanda and Irene Montano discussed the boundless possibilities with the PO members. Much more to our collective delight, the possibilities seemed to cut through to the members and started to cultivate in their minds. We ended our gatherings with key results pointing towards the two resources of danggit (rabbit fish) and coconuts.
The combined feeling of accomplishment for the jobs done so far the excitement for the work to be done in the near future was soon overcome by nobler and pleasantly infectious outlook; one of stewardship.
Upon Nong Jun’s recommendation and Nong Ben’s enthusiasm, we were able to visit both Burgos and Lanuza MPAs. These MPAs stand tall to represent the hard work and conviction in preserving these natural resources in hopes of preserving their own lives.
These people stand tall amidst a turbulent sea of crime and corruption, not to make more from it it or to take what they deserve but rather to simply protect what is naturally theirs.