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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org