Atimonan, Quezon—Loryann Condol, a 35-year-old wife of a fisherman from Barangay Poblacion Zone IV, is not letting COVID-19 get her, or her family, down. She counts herself among the residents of this far-flung, seaside community who now earn a decent living turning the humble tamban (herring) into Spanish sardines, which is being sold to customers living as far as Metro Manila and Zambales.
Through the Aplaya Sardines Enterprise, one of the projects of Atimonan One Energy Inc. (A1E) under its Kaisa sa Kabuhayan program on livelihood and enterprise development, Condol has a dignified shot at becoming self-sufficient, especially during the off-peak fishing season.
“I am happy that A1E gave us this opportunity,” said Condol. “Right now, I am making more than PhP350 every production cycle of Aplaya,” she said.
Last year alone, she earned extra P5,000 which augmented her income. “More importantly, this project helped me provide the needs of my family and be with them at the same time,” Condol said.
Shirley Balinsayo, a former overseas Filipino worker, recently joined the group of small fisherfolks behind the Aplaya Spanish sardines called Atimonan Coastal Food Production Association.
“I am grateful for this kind of opportunity in my hometown which really is a huge help for us especially now that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” said Balinsayo.
IABC Quill awards
A1E won an excellence award for this Aplaya Sardines livelihood project during the 18th Philippine Quill awards held virtually in March.
The award, given by the International Association of Business Communicators, fell under the communication management: corporate social responsibility category.
The annual Philippine Quill awards recognizes excellent communication research, programs, skills and creative work by companies and agencies in the country.
With the help of A1E, which is developing a 1,200-megawatt, highly efficient, low-emission coal plant in the area, residents in the seaside community underwent a fish processing training program which currently helps them eke out an alternative income during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the initiative of A1E and the guidance of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region IV-A and Atimonan’s Office of Municipal Agriculture, ACFPA members will soon offer new products including milkfish in oil, tinapa, deboned bangus and fish patty.
The Atimonan local government plans to open a community fish landing center and processing facility to accommodate the growing Spanish sardines industry in the municipality.
‘Heart of what we do’
MGen president and chief executive Rogelio Singson wants to transform Atimonan into a progressive and “smart” community. Among the efforts made by MGen and A1E was the facilitation of the development of a Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the municipality.
“We put the local community at the heart of what we do and we want to ensure that as our projects progress, our communities grow and develop with us,” said Singson.
A1E has also been undertaking social development projects for the municipality with focus on health, environment, livelihood and education.
While generating jobs and boosting local economy are expected from the multiplier effects of A1E’s power project, MGen ensures that these benefits are sustainable.
“While the country continues to battle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still fortunate to be able to offer jobs to the people living in Atimonan and the adjacent municipalities,” said Litz Manuel-Santana, MGen vice-president for external affairs.
Residents themselves believe that the power plant will not only help the town of Atimonan but also uplift the lives of the residents.
“We believe A1E project will provide more job opportunities, and improved health and educational facilities for our families and the future generation,” said Irene Dolindo, chairwoman of Samahan ng Maliliit na Manggagawa sa Lumang Pantalan.
Through its Kaisa sa Pagsulong CSR program, A1E hopes to build a self-reliant community in Atimonan.
The key beneficiary of the program are the 47 families who were relocated to a new community and were since organized into New Carinay Homeowners Association Inc.
NCHAI members undergo capacity-building and livelihood and enterprise development programs as part of A1E’s efforts to make the community self-reliant and sustainable.
Members now run various small-scale businesses on catering, boat rental services, and small-scale construction, property maintenance and repair.
Member-farmers also benefit from the Gulayan sa Bakuran project of A1E, which focuses on vegetable production to provide nutritious food and extra earnings for the residents.
“This is a great help for my family in this time of crisis because it is not only a source of food but also additional income for us,” said Roger Trapalgar, a farmer from NCHAI.
Distance learning is key
On the education front, A1E’s Kaisa sa Edukasyon program focuses on various activities aimed at supporting students and teachers in the municipality.
Recently, A1E facilitated donation of P6.6 million worth of books from Rex Bookstore as part of its efforts to support distance learning amid the pandemic. The project benefitted over 7,000 elementary and high school students from 28 public schools in Atimonan
Core to A1E’s CSR efforts is environment stewardship. Through tree-planting and coastal clean-up activities, all sectors from Atimonan—through volunteerism—help protect and maintain a clean municipality.
Along with its partners, A1E has so far planted 17,000 indigenous and fruit bearing trees across the municipality. The company also pledged to continue this activity by planting at least 1,000 trees every year under Project 1K.
Over 2,000 mangrove propagules (stem cuttings) were recently planted by volunteers along the two-hectare coastal area of Barangay Balugohin.
The company also does regular coastal clean-ups along the 12-kilometer stretch of Lamon Bay under Project 1Dagat. The company and its partners have so far completed 23 activities.
Closer to home, A1E implements a ban on single-use plastic in all its activities and offices.
Under Kaisa sa Kabuhayan, the company established various livelihood groups being run by Atimonanins, including: Heavenly Touch Therapeutic Massage, which provides professional massage services; Atimonan Haircutters Association, which offers basic haircutting and hair coloring services; and of course, ACFPA, which produces the homegrown Aplaya Spanish sardines.
A1E is closely working with Atimonan’s Public Employment Service Office in hiring locals for the various positions needed by the company and its contractors. Currently, more than 361 Atimonanins, who represents 54 percent of the total workforce are working on the site preparation activities.
Health and well-being
Recently, A1E launched Kaisa sa Kalusugan—a radio health program aired via Radyo Natin Atimonan 106.5 and the company’s Facebook community page which provides information and knowledge on health and nutrition—which is very useful amid the pandemic.
As the pandemic continues to pummel the country, A1E has not let up on efforts to implement stringent safety protocols at its office and project site in Atimonan. The company is in close coordination with the local government as it continues to wage implacable warfare against the COVID-19 scourge.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.