A Blessing of Hope: The Story of Casiguran Fisherfolks
Casiguran is a municipality part of Aurora Province in the Philippines, endowed with prime agricultural land, rich biodiversity, and bountiful coastal resources. Strategically located in the Pacific seaboard of the country, most residents of Casiguran, Aurora are farmers and fisherfolks. This is especially true for communities in the San Ildefonso Peninsula, a stone’s throw away from the Pacific Ocean. For them, living beside, and within the means of the sea is essential. Unfortunately, many of the communities such as Sitio Dibanga, one of beneficiaries of a project for fisherfolk, do not have accessible boats for fishing due to financial limitations of the residents and immense property loss due to Typhoon Lando last October 2015.
The boat project funded by Philippine Jesuit Foundation aimed to alleviate this and distribute boat and complimentary fishing equipment such as fish nets, solar lights and life jackets to six fisherfolk communities. Sitio Dibanga was one of the fisherfolk communities who expressed great need, especially after Typhoon Lando. According to the words of Jeremias Cordial or also known as Tatay (trans. father) Emi, 60 years of age and the treasurer of their people’s organization in Sitio Dibanga, many of their community members found it difficult in the past to look for a fishing boat with bigger size. Having one, for them, means being able to reach the deeper and farther part of the ocean, and get better catch. Now, they have an accessible bigger boat that can go around the Peninsula to reach Pacific Ocean. Their students even use the boat for transportation to school every day, where in they once walked for more than an hour to reach their classes.
For Sitio Dibanga, being one of the beneficiaries of the boat project is beyond their livelihood assistance. It is also a support for them to build their community better after saving PhP 13,000 (US$ 250+) from contributions. In the next coming days, the community of Sitio Dibanga will be discussing what the money will be put towards. This is actually something Tatay Emi aspires for his community- to improve their finances and make use of their money for the betterment of their community. With a heart full of gratitude towards their donors, Tatay Emi and the rest of Dibanga community can now look forward, and move towards a better future. Assistance to communities like Sitio Dibanga might be simple and little for those beyond the community. For our beneficiaries who live by the sea, however, it’s an opportunity to better their lives and their children’s. It’s a blessing of hope that something greater is in store for them, especially now that they have the capacity to lead towards it on their own. The generosity of others is the hope of that in-need. Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan and the fisherfolk communities in Casiguran could only pray for it to multiply so more blessings of hope will be spread.
Note: This article is also published in Windhover: The Philippine Jesuit Magazine.