The “Sulong Pinoy” reefer van will help fishing communities in Bicol and Occidental Mindoro deliver their fresh tuna to markets all over Luzon. This is one of the two reefer vans donated by BPI and BPI Foundation along with 50 transponders, 50 coolers, and two food sheds to boost the capacity of fisherfolk to sell their catch and help ensure food security.
BPI and its social development arm, BPI Foundation recently turned over urgently needed fishing equipment and food sheds to fishing communities in Bicol and Occidental Mindoro through its "Sulong Pinoy" program. In 2020, instead of traditional Christmas gifts, BPI donated Php 2.5 million under the names of BPI clients to help fisherfolk during this time of the pandemic. To this worthy cause, BPI Foundation donated an additional Php 3 million.
“The pandemic has hit our fisherfolk hard. A sustainable livelihood is what they need right now. With the reefer vans and other equipment that we donated, as well as the food sheds we built, they will be able to sell their fish more efficiently and grow their own food,” said BPI Foundation Executive Director Owen Cammayo.
“The BPI group will continue to be a partner towards recovery, resilience, and a more financially inclusive society today and tomorrow,” he added.
Through the "Sulong Pinoy” program, BPI, its clients, and BPI Foundation aim to elevate the lives of marginalized and underserved communities in the country, in collaboration with the World Wide Fund (WWF) Philippines. Under the program, two reefer vans, 50 transponders, and 50 tuna coolers were donated and two food sheds were constructed to help fishing communities in the Lagonoy Gulf and Mindoro Strait, benefitting over 2,500 fishermen.
The new equipment helped the fisherfolk secure the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification, which guarantees steady access to the market.
With the help of WWF-Philippines, BPI and BPI Foundation also built two food sheds in Lagonoy and Camarines Sur to strengthen the communities’ resilience to climate-related risks and help ensure food security. Two more are underway in Occidental Mindoro.
Representatives from Sablayan Seafoods Fishermen Cooperative now have transponders and tuna coolers from BPI Foundation and WWF-Philippines.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources MIMAROPA Assistant Regional Director Roberto Abrera was present during the virtual turnover ceremony. “We are very thankful to our development partners, WWF-Philippines and BPI Foundation, for helping our fisherfolk amid this pandemic. Napakahalagang tulong po ang inyong ibinigay sa kanilang pagbangon (The support you have given is essential to their recovery),” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Elizaldy Boboyo, the representative of Gulf of Lagonoy Tuna Fishers Federation, Inc. said, “Nakita namin na may patutunguhan talaga ang inyong programa at ito ay aming nararamdaman na ngayon. Ang mga equipment po na inyong ibinigay ay makatutulong sa aming mga maliit na mangingisda. (This program will really benefit us and we already feel its impact. The equipment you have given will help us small-scale fishermen.)”
A beneficiary from Sagñay, Camarines Sur shows her freshly picked produce from the food shed.
For its part, WWF-Philippines continues to conduct learning sessions on the food shed production process, and financial and enterprise management for the fisherfolk beneficiaries.
Delighted with the collaboration, WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio said, “Thank you BPI (through BPI Foundation) for your long-standing partnership with us in so many areas. Thank you for your leadership that is enabling and empowering all the people that you work with.”
To know more about BPI Foundation and its programs, visit www.bpifoundation.org.