A blast from the (near) past.

This post may be a little late already, content-wise, but we still would like to share it with you, nevertheless. In our December 17 post, we reported about ACF’s photo and video-documentation team — led by our long-time Aussie volunteer, Jason Bray — that went to the Yolanda-devastated areas to report about what was actually going on, on the ground.

One of the results of that documentation project is this short video clip about the immediate after-effects of Yolanda, everyday scenes with victims/survivors, the different efforts at relief and rehab, and a call for more support.

Better late then never, right?

Slowly, but surely, we’re getting there.

144,000 fishing boats may be a tall order to fill (that’s the estimated number of fishing boats destroyed by the typhoon), but many organizations and individuals are doing their bit. ACF, for one, through its partners Tindog Samar and Star of Samar, and its donors from the USA and Sweden, have managed to contribute more than 200 bancas already to the huge task of rebuilding the Yolanda-devastated municipal fishing sector in the Visayas and in Northern Palawan.

Just this morning ACF visited the Manila plant (they also have a plant in Bacolod City. Soon, they hope to build another one in Tacloban) of our partner fiberglass-banca manufacturer to check up on our past and future orders. We are glad to report that the latest batch of bancas, 16-footers, will be delivered tomorrow morning via flatbed truck to the Star of Samar areas in the Visayas for fitting of outriggers, engines and official turn-over to the fisher-beneficiaries.

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ACF has likewise ordered another batch of 20 fiberglass bancas, 20-footers, and placed an advance order for a banca mould sufficient to produce 24-footer bancas for the “Pacific fishers” of Eastern Visayas — mainly those in Eastern Samar — who face rougher waters than fishers in the inland seas.

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We hope to have our latest order of bancas on the ground and in the hands of the fisherfolks of Dulag, Leyte, by mid-April.

With your continued support, more fisherfolk will finally be able to return to the sea and continue their, their families’ and their community’s livelihoods.

Leyte-Samar “Multi-Stakeholders Rehab Conference” held in Tacloban City

Perhaps it was only apt that the Rehab Conference was held in a venue that was also badly-hit by Typhoon Yolanda. Although it wasn’t evident anymore (great job on the repairs, by the way!), we were told by the staff of Asia Stars Hotel in Tacloban City that the seawater and debris brought by the storm surge reached almost to the second floor. Thus the unhinged H on the building’s marquee, which remains un-repaired as of today, perhaps as a reminder to everyone of Yolanda’s recent visit. DSC_0519 Held last February 27-28, the Rehab Conference attracted almost a hundred participants, packing the small conference room to the rafters. Delegates included survivors, local relief and rehab workers, and local government executives including 13 Mayors and several Barangay Captains and Kagawads, all of whom came from areas included in the “Yolanda Belt.”

One question was in everyone’s mind: How long until the ongoing rehab projects of the government and other organizations finally reaches us in significant amounts?

Hoping to answer that very important question were speakers representing the following government agencies and private organizations:

  • Office of the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs (OPA)
  • National Economic Development Agency (NEDA)
  • Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
  • National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)
  • National Housing Authority (NHA)
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Save the Children
  • Akbayanihan Relief and Rehab Network
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
  • Department of Education (DepEd)

With the exception of Usec. Tom Villarin of OPA and Director Asis Perez of BFAR, all the other government agencies were represented by Regional Directors and other Officials.


100_5653So, what were the key outputs of the Rehab Conference? In ACF’s opinion, they are the following:

  • Survivors and local community leaders had the rare chance to directly ask government officials representatives questions about the ongoing rehab program, especially on how their respective communities figure in the plan;
  • Government officials were able to give the survivors concrete suggestions on how to more effectively access the various rehab projects and services being provided by their respective agencies;
  • Survivors had the chance to talk with fellow survivors from other areas and compare notes, especially about particular experiences when dealing with public, or private relief and rehab agencies; and finally,
  • Relief and Rehab organizations, whether public or private, directly heard the sentiments from the ground, including complaints and suggestions on how to make the Rehab efforts more effective, efficient and quicker.

Did the Rehab Conference help? We’ll find out soon enough.

Because it is the survivors themselves who know what they need.

ACF spent another week — Feb 24 to Mar 1 — holding consultations with the different barangays in Tacloban, Tanauan and Dulag, Leyte, and in Hernani, Eastern Samar, that it has targeted to be beneficiaries of its ongoing “Build Better Together” Rehab Program. In these community consultations, ACF, together with its local coordinators, met with members of the local government units (Barangay Captains and Kagawads), leaders and members of local people’s organizations (Fishers’ Cooperatives, Women’s Associations), key local basic services providers (Midwives, Barangay Health Workers, Teachers and Bantay-Dagat members), and other survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.

In all, ACF was able to hold consultations and project site visits in the following areas:

  • Bgy. Carmen, Hernani, Eastern Samar
  • Bgy. Batang, Hernani, Eastern Samar
  • Bgy. Cabalawan, Tacloban, Leyte
  • Bgy. San Roque, Tanauan, Leyte
  • Bgy. Magay, Tanauan, Leyte
  • Bgy. San Jose, Dulag, Leyte
  • Bgy. Barbo, Dulag, Leyte
  • Bgy. Sungi, Dulag, Leyte

Though some barangays had certain priority needs that were specific to them — e.g., Abuyog, which had a sudden influx of ex-military relocatees doing “red-scare” tactics among the residents — the majority listed the following as their immediate needs:

  • Housing / Shelter Repair
  • Livelihood support / Fishing Bancas / Pedicabs / Capital infusion
  • Schools and Daycare Buildings / Repairs
  • Community Health Centers / Repairs

These priority needs were arrived at during the consultation activity through reports, sharing and, eventually, consensus-building. But one barangay, however, had done its assignment beforehand, making their consultation relatively “short and sweet.”

Bgy Magay status and needsO, di ba? Direct to the point na agad. They’ve already been waiting for too long to indulge in the usual “paligoy-ligoy pa.”


The Boats of Estancia.

A few days ago, ACF visited Estancia, Iloilo, one of the many Yolanda-hit areas in Panay Island, to conduct a stakeholders’ consultation activity with local government officials, NGOs and POs and typhoon survivors regarding the conduct of ACF’s Rehabilitation Project in the area. Several barangays from the municipalities of Carles, Sicogon and Higantes Islands were represented.

The survivors shared their stories of how Yolanda had affected them, their families, their livelihoods and communities and how, despite the hardships, and with the help of local and foreign organizations, they managed to keep on living as normally as possible.

From the many needs of the survivors in Estancia, the stakeholders agreed on the following priorities — something that ACF and its partners can hopefully help address very soon:

  • Rebuilding Daycare Centers
  • Construction of Evacuation Centers in the island barangays
  • Fishing Bancas and Kits for livelihood
  • School Supplies and Teachers’ Kits
  • Resolving the Sicogon land issue.

All of these are very important needs that have to be addressed soon, but, as one walks around Estancia, in the town proper, in the fishport, in the market, along the seashore, the most compelling reminders of the overwhelming disaster that Yolanda visited upon the people of Estancia are the carcasses of the huge fishingboats that now lie beached and broken, never to be used again.

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As one fisherfolk shared during the activity, “We won’t need to depend on relief goods if we had our livelihood back. We need to get back to the sea soon.”

With all our help. They will.



A Star is Born!

Like a bright speck of hope to a seafarer lost at sea, Star of Samar is a guiding star towards a vision of a boat for every fisher folk! The Star of Samar is a private initiative of many individuals touched by the tragedy brought by Yolanda on many of our kababayans/compatriots in the Visayas. It was an idea spawned when some of the initiators saw on TV, two days after Yolanda, a fisherman before his broken boat, almost teary-eyed, saying that if only he had a functioning boat, he could easily go back to sea and fish once more for a living and not be dependent on relief and other handouts. Inspired by the spirit of determination, resilience and independence shown by this humble fisherman, the Star of Samar initiators came up with the idea of raising funds to produce fishing boats to donate to affected fishing communities.

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Consulting friends belonging to Tindog Samar and the Active Citizenship Foundation, both NGOs actively involved in relief and rehabilitation work in the Yolanda-hit areas, the initiators of the Star of Samar Project decided on producing fiberglass boats for the towns of Basey and Marabut in Western Samar, and Lawaan in Eastern Samar.

Why fiberglass fishing bancas? To build many wooden boats would have meant buying expensive wood or cutting a lot of trees from our already depleted forest areas, adding to our already precarious environmental problems. On the other hand, fiberglass bancas are cheaper and faster to make, much more durable, lighter and more maneuverable than wooden boats.

Below left is a mold for making the fiberglass boats; on the right is a sample of the product.

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Why these towns of Samar? They have been among the coastal towns in the Visayas hardest hit by Yolanda, apart from the fact that Samar, long before Yolanda, has been among the most depressed areas of the Philippines which needed a real break in economic development.

Star of Samar initially aims to raise resources for 100 boats although they intend to continue beyond that number considering that the need even in these three towns is massive. According to the government, over 140,000 fishing boats are needed to replace the ones devoured by the monster typhoon in the Visayas. At this point, early-February, Star of Samar is on track to deliver the first batch of 20 boats to a village in the town of Marabut. The next batches will go to villages in the other two towns in Samar. Of course, Star of Samar is open to work with Tindog Samar and ACF in extending its support to fisherfolks in other affected towns.

On the left are 14-footer bancas fresh from the mold, with excess fiberglass material still untrimmed; at right, 18-footers with names of the donors already painted on them.

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The recipients of the boats will have to fulfill some easy, non-material conditions, namely:

  • They are required to use the boats and not to sell or rent them out;
  • They would be the ones to make the outriggers with some help, if needed, from the boat builders;
  • They will also need to attend a meeting with the boat builders to learn how to maintain and repair the bancas;
  • Adult members of the recipient families are required to attend seminars/workshops on proper fishing methods; i.e., non-destructive of marine life and the environment (no blast fishing; using only proper nets, etc.); and on the importance of mangroves and mangrove re-growing.

Star of Samar also feels that there is need for a discussion integrated into the other seminars on the importance of women’s participation in livelihood undertakings and in over-all community development which includes decision-making processes.

Regarding the donors and the fishing boats. Every donor or group of donors is entitled to name the donated boats for which they have raised resources for. In this way, there could be, if preferred, a personal link between the donor(s) and the recipient family. This is also a practical means by which to monitor or keep track of the donated boat(s). The boats will also have Tindog Samar labels as well as serial numbers that will be registered with the municipality and the Bureau of Fisheries. At this point, the boats will be of two sizes: a 14-footer can carry one or two fisherfolks; an 18-footer for two or three fisherfolks.

In its fishing boat project, Star of Samar will be closely cooperating with Tindog Samar and ACF. Tindog Samar (Stand up, Samar!) is a network of individuals from social movements, NGOs and social action centers involved in the rehabilitation and development of Samar. ACF is an established foundation committed to citizens’ participation and democratic initiatives in development. In the fishing boat project, Star of Samar depends much on Tindog Samar and ACF for the infrastructure, the fishing gears and the social preparation of the recipient communities.

Said one of the members of Star of Samar, “We are quite excited by this modest project. We are happy for the prospect of being able to help people get back to their normal lives but on a new and higher plane where the principles of solidarity, gender equality and care for Mother Nature become a part of a sustainable way of life. We would be very glad should you decide to come on board the Star of Samar and be a partner of ours in this challenging undertaking.”

Should you be interested in supporting the “Star of Samar” Project, or if you have further inquiries, please contact the following:

  • Active Citizenship Foundation (ACF) – c/o Arnold Tarrobago, Executive Director / mobile: +63-917-9963117 / email: tarrobago@gmail.com

Abbot Philippines’ donations, distributed.

Following the calls for donations made by ACF in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, many local businesses answered by donating emergency products for distribution to the typhoon survivors. Abbot Philippines was one of the very first ones who answered ACF’s call.

Their generous donation of 2,447 packs of Grow Milk was distributed by ACF’s local relief coordinators as follows:


No. of Packs

Date of Delivery

Concepcion, Iloilo


Nov. 25

Passi city, Iloilo


Nov. 23

Dueñas, Iloilo


Nov. 23

Brgy. Bolo, Carles, Iloilo


Nov. 24

Brgy. Cubi, Dumarao Capiz


Nov. 26

Brgy. San Fernando, Sicogon Carles Iloilo


Nov. 24

Numancia, Aklan


Nov. 26

Brgy. Codionan, San Dionisio, Iloilo


Brgy. Maduawak, San Dionisio, Iloilo


Nov. 23

Brgy. Barosbos, Carles Iloilo


Nov. 24

San Dionesio, Iloilo


Nov. 23

Tangalan, Aklan


Nov. 26

Banga, Aklan


Nov. 26

Estancia, Iloilo


Nov. 24

Brgy. Batao, Estancia, Iloilo


Nov. 23

Brgy. Nasunugan, Dao, Capiz


Nov. 23

Brgy. Sibaguan, Roxas city, Capiz


Nov. 26

Tinaytayan, Dumarao, Capiz


Nov. 25




Abbot also made an additional donation of 1,305 bottles of Pedialyte (500ml) Oral Electrolyte Solution (contained in 55 boxes at 24 bottles per box) to the Municipal Health and Nutrition Office of Culion, Palawan, for use during their relief and medical services in their area.

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Bancas under construction, earmarked for Marabut, Samar.

Update regarding the ongoing Livelihood-Rebuilding work: In a few days time, the first batch of 20 boats (10 of the 14 footers and 10 of the 18 footers) contracted by Tindog Samar will be ready for delivery to the target fisherfolk families in Marabut, Samar.

Tindog Samar Bancas2

The manufacturer of these fiberglass bancas, though originally located in the city of Taguig, Metro Manila, is planning to move its operations to Bacolod City in order to be nearer to the end users of their products.

Tindog Samar Bancas

These bancas, both the 14-, and 18-footer versions, have provisions for motors and outriggers, which will be installed on site by the fisherfolk beneficiaries themselves. Each banca will also have the necessary fishing kitnets, flotation devices, lines and hooks — needed by the recipients to resume their livelihood off the seas of Samar.

We will post more updates here as we get them from our Tindog Samar partners.

2013 in retrospect

You can’t tell from looking at the recent posts in this blog, but ACF’s 2013 activities involved more than just its Yolanda-related engagements. In fact, these activities only commenced middle of November — almost at year’s end.

So what did ACF do during the first 10 months of the year? In a word, PLENTY.

We will be posting short descriptions of these non-Yolanda related activities, two of which have been posted already — Livelihood Training in Lingayen, Pangasinan; and the 2013 COMPACT-IOM International Election Observers Mission. But in the meantime, here is a table of ACF’s 2013 activities, which can give you an overview of what ACF’s “normal,” pre-Yolanda world looked like.




  • Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA)


  • Official Visit of the SAP (Swedish Social Democratic Party) delegation to the Philippines


  • Start of Regional Consultations on the 2013 Elections. Led by ACF’s Regional Centers, consultations include workshops on responsible voting and first-time voters education


  • Launching of the 2013 COMPACT-IOM International Election Observation Mission
  • Official Visit of the YSPS (Yangon School of Political Science) delegates to the Philippines
  • ACF Visit to Thailand for Evaluation and Planning with Burma Partners


  • Deployment of 31 International Election Observers  to selected “hotspots” during the May 13 Mid-term Elections
  • Public presentation of the findings of the 2013 COMPACT-IOM Mission


  • Deployment of ACF Volunteers to the Mae Sot School and Mae Tao Clinic, Thailand


  • Conference on Building Green Communities


  • Launching of ACF’s Women Health Project in cooperation with the Municipal Government of Alfonso Lista, Ifugao


  • Conference on Universal Health Care
  • Conference on the Green Agenda for the Future
  • Luzon-Visayas LGU Conference on Reforming the Local Government Code
  • Mindanao LGU Conference on Reforming the Local Government Code


  • Leadership Training activity for the students of the Mae Sot School
  • Rangoon Training on Organizational Management and Mass Movement Relations for ACF’s partners inside Burma
  • Rangoon Meeting of the Swedish partner organizations in Burma


  • Conference of the Stakeholders to the Yolanda Relief and Rehab Project
  • Manila Meeting of the Swedish partner organizations in the Philippines


  • Graduation of beneficiaries of ACF’s Livelihood Project in cooperation with the Municipal Government of Lingayen, Pangasinan
  • Forum on “Looking back at 2013 and its Implications on the Country’s Reform Movement”
  • Yolanda Relief Project Assessment and Rehabilitation Phase Planning

Not a very informative table, we agree; but we’ll be posting the description of each activity in the next few weeks.