PAMANA Newsletter June 2005

What's Inside?
MPA Struggles and Small Successes
Editorial: Mga Bantay Dagat
Balitaktakan: PAMANA Fishers
Kamustahan: Tagalog / Bisayan
Position Paper on Bills to Amend RA 8550
Bata! Bata!
Siargao Article: Tagalog / Bisayan
Running a Fish Sanctuary
Byaheng Samar
Round Table Discussion on Delineation of Municipal Waters
Stakeholders Meeting

MPA Struggles and Small Successes

The fight to keep DAO 17 in its original form remains to be one of the advocacies of Pamana Ka Sa Pilipinas (Pamana). Since its issuance in June 2001 and until its revocation in March 2003, DAO 17 has had to face many attempts of revision, if not total elimination. As if adding salt to the wounds, some legislators have pushed for revisions on DAO 17’s mother law, RA 8550. Pending deliberations and discussions both at the Upper and Lower Houses are SB 799 (authored by Sen. Manny Villar) and HB 2709 (authored by Rep. Federico Sandoval). These two bills seek to amend provisions in RA 8550. Both provide commercial fishers more access to what is considered as municipal waters, despite pending (or suspended) delineation process.

In its recent Round Table Discussion on the Delineation of Municipal Waters held in Guiuan last April, Pamana found an ally in Dennis Calvan, current Chairperson of the NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR). Pamana and NFR have agreed to take a stand in recalling DAO 17 en toto, and will complement each other’s advocacy efforts. Strengthened by this new alliance, the Pamana Council signed a resolution and a position paper seeking to oppose the twin bills against RA 8550. In April, Calvan met with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel to discuss the Fisherfolk Legislative Agenda and opposition to SB 799, even providing the latter with a copy of Pamana’s position paper. As soon as NFR has gathered statements rom other fisherfolk groups, a consolidated paper vs the Twin bills shall be presented to Rep. Sandoval and Sen. Villar.

The fight for issues and causes concerning MPA managers and practitioners may seem to take time. It has sent men to prison and some to their death. But for as long as there are groups and individuals taking a stand together with them, the fight goes on. As Marge Lavides of Haribon declared, DAO 17 is no longer just about strengthening the 15km radius, rather protecting and preserving the resources that go even beyond the boundaries. It is for the present and the future generation.

by Myla Roslinda

Balitaktakan: PAMANA Fishers
(Photos will go here.)

Bata! Bata! Magsalita Ka't Pakikinggan Kita
Kuwentong hango sa mga karanasan ng Samahan sa Asinan

by Jourdel Mario Añabieza

"Nung aking kabataan, may naririnig ako na ang isang tao daw ay kailangang tumanda, lumaki ang tiyan, at magkapera para pakinggan, paniniwalaan, at sundin ng karamihan."

It was late in 1995. At the age of 22, I left my job as a receiving checker in Metro Ayala Cebu to be a fisherman in my hometown in Asinan, Buenavista, Bohol. As a child, I have always loved fishing as a way of living. In fishing, there is no Boss to supervise you but yourself. You're free. And in fishing, you can survive in your simple way of life.

I soon found out that many illegal fishers were already in our fishing grounds. The PNP conducted patrolling but despite some arrests, illegal fishing activities still existed. The PNP had other more important cases to attend to, aside from the fact that they were 50% undermanned. Ideally, there should be 1 policemen for 1,000 people in each town. We had 12 policement for our 24,000 population. So the illegal activities continued. I felt bad that I had fewer catch and very inferior fishing gears compared to them. I tried to talk to some of them but they just laughed at me and said, "Bata ka lang." I felt my blood boil and I set out to prove that being young doesn't mean you're powerless.
From house to house, I talked to other fishers and even to the barangay officials and police. I learned that I was not the only one who resented these illegal activities. Soon, to my surprise, I was presiding over meetings and they listened to me. "Puede pala". Pakikinggan ka naman basta nasa wasto ka . " (It is possible. They will listen to you if you are right). Even if you're not old, fat, and rich. We decided that the illegal fishers must be stopped . We organized ourselves to protect our sea. With 33 members and 15 boats, we went on voluntary patrolling and the members paid for their own gas. Our municipal mayor showed support by going with us on patrolling several times.

In 1997, a deputization of fish wardens was conducted in our town. Since the municipality was known to be vigilant in apprehending illegal fishers, most of our people were included in the training. During the Training, the Resource Speakers stressed the implementation of the Fisheries Law or PD 704. This encouraged us even more to push for the enforcement of fisheries laws in our municipal waters. We even encountered several problems just to implement these laws. One night, while pulling up nets abandoned by illegal fishers, a passing trawler snagged on the nets and dragged our small boats. We escaped drowning and death by cutting the net. Sadly, our team leader took the experience so badly he never went patrolling again. Another time, the illegal fisher we caught suddenly jumped overboard hoping to escape. Only after frantic searching were we able to locate him and turn him over to the PNP.

Sometimes, the altercations between Bantay Dagat and illegal fishermen can get violent. There had been fistfights and face offs with broken water bottles and pipes as weapons, even sinking of bancas . One time, we were accused of causing to sink and drown some illegal fishermen and a trawl and a case was filed against us. With the help of our Mayor and from Haribon Foundation, through Project Seahorse, we went on search. I nearly drowned myself when during the search I dared go to the surface too fast from a 20-m depth of sea water. This has been known to cause severe damage to a person's lungs. Apparently, the missing boat and persons just went into hiding and just wanted to get us into trouble. The case was dropped.

One time, I was accosted by armed men at my house but I refused because they had no warrant of arrest. They threathened me and one of them said, "Mar, sampung taon 2004 na ako sa serbisyo , Ikaw, tatlong araw lang nagseminar bilang fish warden nagpapaka-hero ka na." Sabi ko naman, "Mas mabuti pa ang tatlong araw na seminar kasi hindi ko ginamit yung natutunan ko sa pagprotekta ng katiwalian kundi para gawin kung ano ang tama. Magpasalamat ka, ginawaga namin ang dapat mong gawin." ("Mar, I have been in service for ten years. You have had a seminar for fish wardens for three days only and you are already being a hero." I replied, "My three days of seminar is better because I did not use my learning to protect illegal activities but to do what is right. You should thank me because I am doing what you should be doing."). They were forced to leave when my neighbors came running towards my house.

On the idea that you have to be old, fat, and rich to wield some influence, "Nabura na yan sa isipan ko. Kasi napapatunuyan kong kaya pala ng isang bata na wala pang tiyan at walang pera na maging boses ng isang komunidad para sa iisang adhikaan _ maprotektahan ang ating dagat." (It is now erased from my mind. I have already proven that a young person without a big, bulging stomach and without lots of money can be the voice of the community for a certain advocacy — to protect the sea.)

Some people asked why I quit my regular job for fishing "Ang sabi ko, wala akong paghihinayang. Kung bigyan ako ng pagkakataong balikan ang aking kabataan ay sampung beses kong tatahakin ulit ang pinagdadaanan ko dahil doon ako nagkamalay at namulat. Mga mangingisda na ang mga ninuno ko. Alam ko na meron akong babalikan at doon ako naging kapakipakinabang sa aming kumunidad." ("I said, I have no regrets. If I were given another chance to go back to my youth, I will go through the same road even ten times because it was there that I had my awakening and realization. My ancestors were fishers. I know that I have something to go home to and (as a fisher) I know that I will be useful to our community.")

NAMASIN's guardhouse in Asinan, Buenavista

PAMANA Position Paper


THAT, we, a national alliance of small fishers and communities managing 122 marine protected areas in 69 municipalities nationwide, are united in our opposition to the proposed Senate Bill No. 799 authored by Senator Manny Villar and House Bill No. 2709 authored by Congressman Federico S. Sandoval, Representative – Lone District of Malabon City, Navotas, amending the provisions under the RA 8550 or the Philippine Fishery Code of 1998;

THAT, the content and context of the two proposed bills from the House and the Senate are bound to provide advantages to the commercial fishers and threaten the livelihood and subsistence of the marginalized fisherfolk and local communities managing the marine protected areas, within and outside the Pamana Ka Sa Pilipinas membership;

THAT, among several provisions from these bills follow:
· Increase from 3.1 gross tons (GT) to 10.1 gross tons (GT) the weight of fishing vessels utilized by small-scale commercial fishers;
· Use “catch and culture” in the original sense of commercial fishing so that there is a window of opportunity for those involved in aqua farming which is usually being done only in the municipal waters
· Permit small and medium-scale commercial fishing vessels to operate from a depth of 40 fathoms up, provided that in no case shall destructive methods be employed

THAT, based on the above implications and the other provisions that the proposed Senate Bill 799 and House Bill 2709 may bring, it cannot be denied that the fishing grounds for the small fishers become more limited while that for the commercial fishers is broadened. These provisions are clear manifestations of the departure from the traditional rights of fishers in their fishing grounds, creating more friction for them and the commercial fishers.

THAT, this recalls the open access system in marine resources wherein the commercial fishers will prevail over the marginalized fisherfolk because of their advantages in terms of technology and financial capacity. This makes the municipal waters vulnerable to abuse and destruction of the fishing grounds and its marine resources.

NOW, THEREFORE, HAVING IDENTIFIED these salient points, and strengthened by Pamana Council Resolution No. 1 Series of 2005, we strongly oppose the proposed House and Senate Bills and hereby affix the support of all the National Council representing the 22 Ecosystem-based Chapters of the alliance, with a membership of 6,280 fisherfolk in 122 Marine Protected Areas from 69 municipalities nationwide, as follows:


1. Lapinig Marine Sanctuary Lapinig, Pres. CP Garcia, Bohol Pedro Carting (LFA)
2. Handumon Marine Sanctuary Handumon, Getafe, Bohol Brgy. Capt. Gregorio Botero
3. Asinan Reef Fish Sanctuary Asinan, Buenavista, Bohol Brgy. Kag. Marciano Gucor
4. Macaas Marine Sanctuary Macaas, Tubigon, Bohol Brgy. Capt. Eugenio D. Mula
5. Batasan Marine Sanctuary Batasan Is., Tubigon, Bohol Brgy. Capt. Rodrigo Cosicol
6. Pandanon Fish Sanctuary Pandanon Is., Getafe, Bohol Brgy. Capt. Ursulo Campo
7. Aguining Fish Sanctuary Aguining, Pres. CP Garcia, Bohol Segundo Ribay
8. Cataban Fish Sanctuary Cataban Is., Talibon, Bohol Brgy. Kag. Dionesio Deiparine
9. Guindacpan Fish Sanctuary Guindacpan Is., Talibon, Bohol Brgy. Capt. Romulo Pendon
10. Bilangbilangan Marine Sanc. Bilangbilangan Is., Tubigon, Bohol Brgy. Kag. Rolando Obguia
11. Lomboy-Cahayag Fish Sanc. Lomboy, Panggangan Is., Calape,Bohol Virgilio J. Garay (LFFCA)
12. Magtongtong Fish Magtongtong, Panggangan Is., Romeo Cuabo (MAFFA)
Calape, Bohol
13. Pondol Fish Sanctuary Pondol, Loon, Bohol Brgy. Capt. Cristita Josol
14. Sondol Fish Sanctuary Sondol, Loon, Bohol Camelo Leornas (ISDA)
15. Cabacungan Fish Sanctuary Cabacungan, Loon, Bohol Brgy. Kag. Romualdo Morcia
16. Basdacu Marine Sanctuary Basdacu, Loon, Bohol Ignacio Castil, Jr. (BACODA)
17. Tulapos Fish Sanctuary Tulapos, Enrico Villanueva, Siquijor Jeffry Atay (KAYUD)
18. Apo Island Marine Reserve Apo Is., Dauin, Negros Oriental Brgy. Capt. Mario Pascobello
19. Masaplod Norte Marine Res. Masaplod Norte, Dauin, Neg. Or. Brgy. Capt. Danny Delfin
20. Tambobo Marine Reserve Bonbonon, Siaton, Negros Oriental Rosita Palarpalar (BFA)
21. Pob. Dist. 1 Marine Reserve Pob. Dist. 1, Dauin, Negros Oriental Narciso Romero (PD1UFA)
22. Maayong Tubig Marine Res. Maayong Tubig, Dauin, Neg. Or. Anecito Morte (MSFMPC)
23. Andulay Marine Reserve Andulay, Siit, Dauin, Neg. Oriental Cosina Enopia (AFA)
24. Buntis Marine Reserve Buntis, Bacong, Negros Oriental Michael Tuting (BBSFA)
25. Zaragosa Marine Sanctuary Zaragosa Is., Badian, Cebu Pedro Valparaiso (ZBSFAI)
26. Panitugan Fish Sanctuary Panitugan Is., Badian, Cebu Virgilio Necesario (PAFFA)
27. Bantigue Marine Sanctuary Bantigue, Badian, Cebu Jesus Quesio (BIFRRS)
28. Baod Fish Sanctuary Baod, Bantayan, Cebu Brgy. Capt. Ribomapil Holganza, Sr.
29. Guiwanon Fish Sanctuary Guiwanon, Bantayan, Cebu Brgy. Capt. Gilberto Gigante
30. Patao Fish Sanctuary Patao, Bantayan, Cebu Brgy. Capt. Efren Ybanez
31. Calagcalag Marine Reserve Calagcalag, Ayungon, Neg. Or. Demetrio Benlot (CBFA)
32. San Jose Marine Reserve San Jose, La Libertad, Neg. Or. Illuminado Pallon (SJFA)
33. Malusay Marine Reserve Malusay, Guihulngan, Neg. Or. Rene Bulado (MFLP2)
34. Cabugan Marine Reserve Cabugan, Bindoy, Neg. Oriental Expedita Acibo (CFAI)
35. Tandayag Marine Reserve Tandayag, Amlan, Neg. Oriental Brgy. Capt. Dionaldo Omole
36. Agan-an Marine Reserve Agan-an, Agan-an, Neg. Oriental Pio B. Tubat, Jr. (ASFA)
37. Batunan Sur Fish Sanctuary Batunan Sur, Culasi, Antique Lerma Gregorio (BASUFA)
38. Tingib Fish Sanctuary Tingib, Pandan, Antique Leonisa Borbon (KAHATI)
39. Patria Fish Sanctuary Patria, Pandan, Antique Brgy. Kag. Rene Diyahi
40. Mag-aba Fish Sanctuary Mag-aba, Pandan, Antique Rommel de Juan (MMC)
41. Tinigbas Fish Sanctuary Tinigbas, Libertad, Antique Brgy. Capt. Joelito Mateo
42. Union Fish Sanctuary Union, Libertad, Antique Emmanuel Plania (UFA)
43. Taboc Fish Sanctuary Taboc, Libertad, Antique Brgy. Capt. Vidal Samar, Jr.
44. Canigaran Marine Reserve Canigaran Is., Mercedes, Eastern Samar SB Jesus Alfonte
45. Minombonan Marine Reserve Camanga, Salcedo, E. Samar Victorino Duran (CMC)
46. Mandalukon Pasig Marine Res. Coticot, Giporlos, E. Samar Fernando Eder (CMPC)
47. Cantumangpad Marine Reserve Gigoso, Giporlos, E. Samar Anastacio Isic
48. Taguite Marine Reserve Taguite, Lawaan, E. Samar Cenon Elairon (TMPC)
49. Monbon Marine Reserve Poblacion, Lawaan, E. Samar Alex Egargo (LSFA)
50. Guinob-an Marine Reserve Guinob-an, Lawaan, E. Samar Jesus Equerdo (GMC)
51. Puno Point Marine Reserve Puno Point, Guiuan, E. Samar Bienvinido Adesna (GCZMC)
52. Apid-Mahaba-Digyo MS Apid Island, Inopacan, Leyte Brgy. Capt. Claudia Cordova
53. Tumakin Gamay Tumakin Calixto O. Kudera
Dako Marine Sanctuary Conalum, Inopacan, Leyte (KALNAMAC)
54. Dumana Marine Sanctuary Tahud, Inopacan, Leyte Edwin Pelesco (TACAM)
55. Bilasuan and Bitaong MS Esperanza, Inopacan, Leyte Nilo Otero
56. Hilapnitan Marine Sanctuary Hilapnitan, Baybay, Leyte Brgy. Kag. Jeffrey Basmayor
57. Lanuza Marine Park & Sanc. Cagmino, Sibahay, Lanuza, SDS Ranulfo Arreza
58. Tigao Fish Sanctuary Tigao, Cortes, Surigao del Sur Joselito Ramos (NMT)
59. Burgos Bird and Fish Sanc. Burgos, Cortes, Surigao del Sur Benjamen Dellos (KAAMPAKA)
60. Capandan Fish Sanctuary Capandan, Cortes, Surigao DS Brgy. Capt. Restituta T. Tubo
61. Tag-anongan Fish Sanctuary Tag-anongan, Cortes, SDS Arnaldo Antolin (NAGMATAKO)
62. Poblacion Fish Sanctuary Poblacion, Cortes, Surigao DS Brgy. Capt. Julio Javier
63. Balibadon Fish Sanctuary Balibadon, Cortes, Surigao DS Brgy. Capt. Nelson Bagona
64. Mabahin Fish Sanctuary Mabahin, Cortes, Surigao DS Brgy. Capt. Isidro Agot
65. Loyola Fish Sanctuary Loyola, Hinatuan, Surigao DS Nerlita J. Magsaulog (PUGAW)
66. Sitio Mahaba Fish Sanctuary San Juan, Hinatuan, Surigao DS Charlito Lanzaderas (LUMOT)
67. San Juan Fish Sanctuary San Juan, Hinatuan, Surigao DS Brgy. Kag. Lito Abinez
68. Talisay Fish Sanctuary Talisay, Hinatuan, Surigao DS Tranquilino Yana (BUDAS)
69. Port Lamon Fish Sanctuary Port Lamon, Hinatuan, SDS Brgy. Capt. Teofilo Realista, Jr.
70. Cambatong Fish Sanctuary Cambatong, Hinatuan, SDS William Ferolino (DANGGIT)
71. Hinatuan Mun. Fish Sanc. Poblacion, Hinatuan, SDS Godofredo Presbitero
72. Kandiis Marine Sanctuary Kandiis, Magsaysay, Mis. Or. Venerando Cabresos (KFFA)
73. Lapinig Marine Sanctuary Lapinig, Balingoan, Mis. Or. Robert Dalapag
74. Dampias Marine Sanctuary Dampias, Binoangan, Mis. Or. Fregreno Vicente (DFO)
75. Bonifacio Aquino M. S. Bonifacio Aquino, Magsaysay Bonifacio Mayormita (BACRMA)
76. San Isidro Marine Sanctuary San Isidro, Magsaysay, Mis. Or. Pedrito Flores (
77. Villa Felipa Marine Sanc. Villa Felipa, Magsaysay, MO. Jose Varquez (VFFA)
78. Sta. Cruz Marine Sanctuary Sta. Cruz, Magsaysay, MO Brgy. Capt. Mariano Caduyag, Sr
79. Artadi Marine Sanctuary Artadi, Magsaysay, Mis. Or. Brgy. Kag. Joseph Bariacion
80. Poblacion Marine Sanctuary Poblacion, Magsaysay, MO Cleofe Ratilla (PMFA)
81. Mantangale Marine Reserve Mantangale, Balingoan, MO Henrio Aligsao, Jr.
82. Damayuhan Marine Sanctuary Damayuhan, Magsaysay, MO Joven Jamito (DMPC)
83. San Alonzo Marine Sanctuary San Alonzo, Baliangao, MO Brgy. Kag. Jeran Munez
84. Halian Marine Reserve Halian Is., Del Carmen, SDN
85. Pamosaingan Marine Sanctuary Pamosaingan, Socorro, SDN Frank Nicolas Telin (PAFAFICO)
86. Maribojoc Marine Sanctuary Maribojoc, San Benito, SDN Arsenio Sulapos
87. Baliangao Wetland Park Misom, Baliangao, Mis. Occ. Romulo Villanueva (DBREMO)
88. Sigapod Fish Sanctuary Sigapod, Maigo, Lanao DN Norberto Sobesol
88. Sigapod Fish Sanctuary Sigapod, Maigo, Lanao DN Norberto Sobesol
89. Tugas Marine Sanctuary Tugas, Baliangao, Mis. Occ. Nostriana Jumawan (KTMNK)
90. Katambak Sanctuary Blasdiot, Baliangao, Mis. Occ. Ricardp Quenca, Sr. (KTMBKI)
91. Liangan Fish Sanctuary Danan, V. Sagun, Zamb, DS Brgy. Capt. Artemio Manginsay
92. Makulay Fish Sanctuary Makulay, V. Sagun, Zamb DS Brgy. Capt. Pedro Oral
93. Triton Fish Sanctuary Danan, V. Sagun, Zamb. DS Brgy. Capt. Antonio Sayson
94. Paril Sangay MPA Paril Sangay, Kalamansig, Brgy. Capt. Tonquillo
Sultan Kudarat
95. Arnedo MPA Arnedo, Bolinao, Pangasinan Cesar Gunsan (SAPA)
96. Balingasay Marine Sanctuary Balingasay, Bolinao, Pang. Jesem Gabatin (SAMMABAL)
97. Victory Fish Sanctuary Victory, Santiago Is., Bolinao Roger Cabrillon (SMMV)
98. Mangrove Sanctuary Pilar, Santiago Is., Bolinao Diosdado Carolino (SAMMAKA)
99. Cabungan Fish Sanctuary Cabungan, Anda, Pangasinan Vergel Carolino (SAMACA)
100. Carot Sanctuary Carot, Anda, Pangasinan Floresco Cahigas (SAMUSECA)
101. Tondol Fish Sanctuary Tondol, Anda, Pangasinan Leopoldo Andajer (SAMUSETO)
102. Marine Conservation Project San Salvador Is., Masinloc, Fernando E. Tiburcio (SPSS)
103. Sinabacan-Malimanga Reef Sinabacan-Malimanga,
Candelaria, Zambales Ruperto C. Apilado (SFA)
104. Batong-Ongot Reef Sanctuary San Isidro, Cabungan, Zamb. Elmo Egaloy (MPPA)
105. Dibut Fish Sanctuary Dibut, San Luis, Aurora Rogelio M. Magdato (SMDI)
106. Mabudo Malaki at Maliit FS Sitio Mabudo, Malapad, Fernando Sambas
Dinalungan, Aurora
107. Twin Rocks Fish Sanctuary Sitio Balanoy, San Teodoro, Juanito Macarandang (SPSTI)
Mabini, Batangas
108. Batalang Bato Marine Sanc. Matalahib, Sto. Tomas, Princesita Aldovino (STKST)
Tingloy, Batangas
109. Cabong Norte Protected Area Cabong Norte, Guinyangan, Greg R. Siaron (CASA)
110. Macaca Reef Fish Sanctuary Cabong-Cawa, Tagkawayan, Jesus Bolima (CORALS)
111. Awasan Fish Sanctuary Awasan Point, Tagkawayan Manuel Baliza (TFA)
112. San Miguel Island Marine Res. Sagurong, San Miguel Is., Nestor Benito (MFRDC)
Tobaco, Albay
113. Gubat Fish Sanctuary Botog-botog Reef, Bagacay, Armando Felices (COTIBAPA)
Gubat, Sorsogon
114. Marilag Fish Sanctuary Marilag, Puerto Diaz, Sorsogon Floresto Emano
115. Bacon Municipal Fish Sanc. Bacon, Sorsogon Ely R. Dino (BRM)

116. Gasan Community Marine Res. Pinggan, Gasan, Marinduque Nemesio delos Reyes (BAFIAS)
117. Torrijos Community Marine Res Poctoy, Torrijos, Marinduque Macario Banayos (SATALIKAYAPO)
118. Boac Fish Sanctuary Boac, Marinduque Uldarico M. Janap (BMO)
119. Malunao Island Protected Area San Juan, Aborlan, Palawan Brgy. Capt. Alex Peneyra
120. Puntod-Ilis Fish Sanctuary Puntod-Ilis, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
121. Manyukos Is. Marine Sanc. Babuyan, Puerto Princesa City, Romeo Samaniego (SAMABU)
122. Nagtabon Fish Sanctuary Nagtabon, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 17th day of April, 2005, at Cebu City, Philippines.

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this ____ day of ____________, affiant exhibited to me his Community Tax Certificate No. 03957367. Issued at Cebu City, on January 12, 2005.

Doc. No. _______
Page No. _______
Book No._______
Series of 2005

Running a Fish Sanctuary

Submitted by Teddy Canda & Benjamen Dellosa (Representatives - Lanuza Bay )

In the heart of Surigao del Sur is one of Mindanao's finest _ the Tigao Fish Sanctuary, the first ever sanctuary established in the Caraga Region. The Tigao Fish Sanctuary is located in Tigao, Cortes, Surigao del Sur, and was founded by the Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Tigao or NAMATI. The acronym aptly translates into the word "HEEDING" or listening to the call. In the early 90's, this group of small fisherfolk and farmers listened to the call, the cry of the "dying sea". Dynamites and all forms of illegal fishing was rampant in the area. The fish catch was diminishing and threatening the present and future subsistence of the village folks. The people were losing hope.

But not Teddy Canda, founding leader of NAMATI. Starting with his team of 7 members, he led NAMATI's growth to 60 members, building the 54-hectare sanctuary that boasts of a guardhouse, visitors quarters and a solar drier inside the sanctuary itself. Because of its proven track record, the group was able to receive loans and grants from local and regional government agencies.

Challenges came in the form of politics. The sanctuary properties were taken away from NAMATI and even the ownership and management of the sanctuary was contested. Only half of the members were left and the remaining ones were, happily, those who truly knew what the sanctuary was all about. Canda rued over the times they had to bow down to "pressure politics", when they felt dishonored. Or the time that he was imprisoned for doing something in the line of duty. There was a time that he was prepared to give up, when he thought that the crisis would end his organization.

Looking back, he looks at the past years as just the first steps in the knowledge ladder. He owed it to the fact that his remaining members rallied behind him in their determination to save the sanctuary. "The bottom line is, we have seen that the sanctuary work(ed) for all of us and maybe for that reason alone it was worth saving", he said.

The sanctuary is down to 30 members, but not out. Today, instead of politicians coming in, students from nearby colleges of Tandag town flock nearly every weekend for field studies. For Canda and his loyal members, the sanctuary may not make them rich, but they seek comfort in the idea that they will never starve again. What is important is the realization that it is never too late to recover the sea's bounty and to give justice to the fisherfolk's simple, yet big efforts. (Excerpts taken from the article of Ramon Jorge Sarabosing of Cortes, Surigao del Sur, for PDI Mindanao Bureau).

Byaheng Samar

(Photos will go here.)