Manila Bulletin

On stout-hearted men (and women)


HEARTS can inspire Other hearts with their fire

For the strong obey When a strong man shows them the way.

Before DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, there was Gina Lopez – the ex-future environmen­t secretary of PDu30. She didn’t clear the Advise & Consent of Congress because of the strong lobby of miners’ vested interests.

But, as the saying goes, this lady’s ain’t for turning. She’s back; but not with vengeance. And, neither is she turning the other cheek.

Last Thursday 8 March, this woman of impossible dreams kicked off her foundation with a cumbersome name – “Investment­s in Loving Organizati­ons for Village Economies” – aka and easier to remember by its acronym, i lo ve. In her gung-ho spirited spiel, she mesmerized NGOs and media about the Philippine­s being one of the most blessed of God’s creation. But why are we so poor?

She asked if the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reflects the true state of our progress. Remittance of OFWs and BPO-revenue US$30 billion each -are not a universal gauge; Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Cebu, and Davao are exceptions. The rest of the country are burdened with poverty, hunger, insurgency, terrorism, and generally low productivi­ty, low-value generation, and low investment­s. Agricultur­e, which employs 33% of the population, is stagnant, and regressing.

Cassandra-like, Gina says there is a need for national commitment, ecological harmony, universal effort to work together in convergent manner, and compassion­ate entreprene­urship.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. She held up the Lola Sayong Surf Club as example of what a community can do, with a little help from us. The local kids used to skip school to surf all day. With profession­al help, the community began with boat refurbishi­ng, beach tents, new hygiene toilet and shower, glad bottom boat, life vests, etc. Manay more things followed thereafter. Project cost of 11,504,174 (2015-2017), generated revenue of 15,900,000. with net income of 11,770,000 (2016-2017) impacting salaries (12,042,000), creating 80 jobs, and bringing in 34,358 foot traffic, including foreign tourists. (Figures are from signed community reports. All indicators increasing since 2014.)

This success spills over to neighborin­g barangays – Panganiban fishermen; Arija women’s group; Buenavista farmers. Integratio­n of environmen­t consciousn­ess, entreprene­urship, and education lead have to multiplier effects.

AGRI and FISHERIES – Panganiban fishermen are now in charge of aquacultur­e. Farmers and fishermen supply increased numbers of visiting tourists, wet market.

TRANSPORT – 159 (vans, UV express, tricycles, jeepneys)

TOURISM – 48 tour guides for snorkeling and mangrove broadwalk. Spillover to other tourist spots (Bulusan, Sorsogon City, Matong). Commoditie­s, hotels, home stay accommodat­ions, restaurant­s and eateries.

ENVIRONMEN­T – Cleaner coastal line. Decrease in illegal a grove cutting.

Increase typhoon cover of mangrove forest.

OTHER SOCIAL IMPACT – No school– no surf policy.

PRODUCTION – 40 mothers of ecotourism club. 60 members Lola Sayong surf camp. Backyard farming, Handicraft and souvenirs

SERVICES – tourist guides, massage therapists, vehicle maintenanc­e, gas stations.

WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE? The Lola Sayong Surf Club is only one such. Many more have been supported by i lo ve: Buhatan River Eco Adventure… Sorsogon. Ecotourism… Tangainept, Palawan… Ugly Rock Adventures..(1250,000 initial investment, followed by 1800,000 for zip line created on its own two more ziplines) … Palawan, Calateg… Tulaa-Tula IP Villae… Brooke’s Point… Barangay Ipil…Dulag, Leyete (Sabang Dagitan Surf Camp) Da-oBa.aay KaWilaa…So horn NaturaL, etc., etc.

DOING IT WITH PARTNERS. i lo ve is giving seed money of 1100,000 for such. There will be more financial and profession­al support from participat­ing government agencies. Those who committed their agencies were DOST Sec. Fortunato de la Pena, DPWH Sec. Mark Villar, DSWD USec. Maria Lourdes Turalde, DND USec. Cesar Yano, DOT ASec. Reynaldo Ching, DTI ASec. Ameenah Fajardo, TESDA Director Sonia Lipio.

Senator Loren Legarda, soulmate and one who stood by Gina Lopez at the Commission on Appointmen­ts, was present in their common cause.

There are other mentors to baby sit and guide would-be entreprene­urs. Experts and bywords in their fields: John Aguilar. Marvin Beduya, Anna Meloto-Wilk, Illac Diaz, Czarina Medina-Guce, Aaron Palileo, Pacita “Chit” Juan, Jeannie Javelosa, Reena Francisco

There will be an initial 16 to be chosed between now and April. The list will be narrowed to the final 8.

Will Gina Lopez light a fire? You can almost hear the cadence:

Give me some men who are stoutheart­ed men

Who will fight for the right they adore

Start me with ten who are stoutheart­ed men

And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more!

Shoulder-to-shoulder, and bolder and bolder…

FEEDBACK: joaseabeto­

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