SMC builds fisherfolk resilience with first-ever facility, skills training program

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) opened a first-of-its kind multi-purpose Fishermen’s Dock in Sariaya, Quezon, aimed at increasing the resilience of fishing communities by providing them, among others, facilities to secure more than 100 boats, particularly during typhoon season.

The Sariaya Fisherman’s Dock, a 3.5-hectare complex, was officially opened Friday, November 6, with the inauguration of the Sariaya Fisherman’s Hall, which serves as a rest and storage area for fishermen.

The inauguration coincided with the graduation of 50 students under the livelihood and skills program funded by SMC in cooperation with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) for residents of the San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes in Barangay Castanas

“We are very happy to join hands with the local government of Sariaya under Mayor Marcelo Gayeta and Diocese of Lucena Bishop Mel Rey Uy in making this project happen. This project only shows that when the private sector, government, and the church work together for a cause that will benefit many of our fellowmen, we are closer to development that is all-inclusive and directly needed by the country, especially at this time pandemic,” SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said.

SMC is set to build a modern, state-of-the-art integrated agro-industrial complex that will include a brewery, grains terminal and feedmill, a ready-to-eat food manufacturing plant, a fuel tank farm, and port facilities in Sariaya.

Ang said that the establishment of the Fisherman’s Dock is timely as Super Typhoon Rolly recently battered many parts of Luzon, with the Bicol region and Quezon province being among the hardest-hit. The typhoon likewise affected many coastal villages and fishermen who rely on the sea for their livelihood.

“Many residents in the coastal areas realize the need for them to be more resilient in the face of natural calamities and the Covid-19 pandemic. While many will remain as fishermen and farmers, helping them uplift their lives would require providing them with added skills,” Ang said.

For the Sariaya project, the initial batch of 50 trainees from San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Village underwent skills training in Organic/Urban Farming/Edible Landscaping and Fish/Meat Processing.

Residents of the village–relocatees from coastal areas classified as danger zones–can also avail of TESDA courses that include Welding, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, Baking and Pastry, and Housekeeping, at the Quezon National Agricultural School (QNAS).

Overall, the Sariaya Fisherman’s Dock in Barangay Castanas can accommodate more than 100 boats, while the Fisherman’s Hall can serve as storage for up to 70 boat engines as well as other fishing implements and supplies. The area has easy access to the Sariaya Bay through Canda River.

Mayor Gayeta said: “Dati rati ay nahihirapan ang ating mga mangingisda tuwing may bagyo at hindi nila malaman kung saan ilalagay ang kanilang bangka. Ngayon, sa pamamagitan ng Bulwagan ng Mangingisda ay sigurado na ligtas ang kanilang mga bangka lalong lalo na sa panahon ng bagyo. Makakasiguro ang aking mga kababayang mangingisda na di na mawawala ang kanilang makina at lambat.”

Malaking tulong po ang fishermen’s hall sa amin lalo na sa mga kasamahan kong mangingisda,” said 35-year-old fishermen’s group leader Jason Panganiban, who also resides at the San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Village.” Dahil sa tulong po ng San Miguel ay nabigyan din kami ng maayos na lugar upang aming iwan ang mga bangka namin pati kagamitan. At meron din kaming lugar na kung saan pwede namin malaman ang situation sa dagat, gaya nung nasa dagat pa kami nakatira.”

Fellow fisherman Bernabe De Mesa added: “Malaki ang tulong ng fisherman’s hall upang may matulugan kami bago mangisda sa madaling araw, at makikita namin kaagad ang situation sa dagat dahil mas malapit na kami sa dagat.”

Bishop Uy agreed that project is a step in the right direction in lifting people out of poverty. “The fisherman’s dock of SMC on the lot of the Diocese of Lucena is our testimony of creating opportunities for people to be liberated from the bondage of poverty and uncertainty. The diocese is partnering with a private organization with good will to create a liberating atmosphere for the people to be more receptive to the word of God. Thus, integral evangelization will happen,” Bishop Uy said.

The facility also currently serves as training venue for 60 students under the Fiber Glass Fishing Boat Fabrication joint project between the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Sariaya local government.

SMC provided Sariaya enrollees in organic agriculture with a 1,000 square-meter plot out of the 5.4-hectare area of San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Village at Barangay Castanas, where they can regularly harvest vegetables for personal consumption and selling for additional income.

A total of 125 qualified families have already availed of free house and lot packages in the San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Village housing project that has a total of 450 units, out of which 378 units have already been built.

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