Visayan Daily Star: Fiberglass banca factory offers endless possibilities

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JAVIER, Leyte – A fisherman, left to care for his six young children after super-typhoon “Yolanda” killed his wife and two-day old baby boy, was the recipient of the 1,000th boat distributed by the Negrense Volunteers for Change in Palo, Leyte, Saturday.

A NVC fiberglass banca factory in Javier town, Leyte, was also blessed and inaugurated yesterday to step up the production of boats funded by donors from around the Philippines and the world, under its Peter Project 2, for fishermen victims of Yolanda. Its first factory is located in Bacolod City.

Rolando Pamplona, 44, the recipient of the 1,000th NVC banca lost his wife Luzvilita, 36, and their baby boy to the typhoon that destroyed their house and fishing boat in Barangay Cogon, Palo.

Pamplonawas among the 22 fishermen who received NVC boats in Palo Saturday, while 35 others innearby Tacloban were also given bancas on Friday.

Grief was still written on the faces of Rolando and his five children, but the bancafrom residents of Piansano, a small town in Italy whose donations were given to NVC, through Fr. Noli Blancaflor, parish priest of Bata Parish in Bacolod City, gave them a ray of hope.

Rolando said he had to sendhis eldest son, Kevin Renz, 15,to live with a relative in Mindanao so he could continue his studies.

His youngestand only daughter, Ma. Luisa, 2, clung to her father even after the NVC volunteers gaveher arag doll and a stuffed pink bear donated by children from Australia. It was difficult to wipe the sad look off her little face.

In order to step up its fiberglass banca production, the NVC yesterday blessed its second factory in Javier, Leyte, where it will manufacture boats for fishermen affected by “Yolanda” in the Samar-Leyte area.

Its first fiberglass banca plant put up after the typhoon to respond to the needs of fishermen who lost their boats is in Bacolod City in Negros Occidental. NVC has distributed more than 1,000 bancas to help fishermen in Negros Occidental, Panay, Cebu, Samar and Leyte get back on their feet.

NVC president Millie Kilayko said they chose Javier town because of its leadership. “Mayor Sandy Javier is a classic model of every NGO’s dream partner. He backs every promise of support with action, he walks in step with his partners, and he inspires his constituents to walk as fast as he does.”

“Our relationship is about people, not politics. Values not voters,” she added.

NVC has to build more than a thousand more boats for its donors, and with every turnover, the list of both new donors and potential recipients grows even longer, Kilayko said.

She said that before NVC started distributing fiberglass boats, it engaged fishermen from its beneficiary areas by bringing them to its Bacolod fiberglass plant to test the finished product and get their stamp of approval. Yesterday, fiberglass technicians also visited beneficiary communities to train fishermen beneficiaries on repair and maintenance.

Mayor Javiersaid that while Yolanda brought devastation, the fiberglass factory set up in his town is one of the many blessings it also brought.

“I see the fiberglass banca factory as the start of endless opportunities for the people of Javier,” he said.

It is the start of a livelihood program for the people, who will be trained how to make the fiberglass bancas, he said.

And those trained can be the future trainers of others, said Javier, who hopes to get the program accredited by TESDA.

“We are not just looking at the production of bancas, there are many other fiberglass products we can venture into in the future,” he said, citing tricycle cabs and portable toilets that are needed in the whole of Leyte.

“We thank NVC for opening up these new opportunities for Javier town, this is not a short-term typhoon response, itwill provide long term employment and economic growth,” the mayor said.

Among the recipients of fiberglass boats with 6.5 horse power engines in Palo, Saturday, was71-year-old Estrella Bajas, who lost her husband Ernesto,74, and everything she owned to Yolanda.

Estrella said she searched for her husband for five days after the typhoon, only to find his body among several others on a backhoe. There were so manydead that Ernesto had to be buried in a common grave near the Palo Catholic church, she said.

She said her husband of 51 years had taught her how to fish as she often went out to sea with him. With the banca from NVC, she will be able to fish again for a living, but this time not with Ernesto, but with her 12-year-old grandson, Joseph.

Yolanda Panobio, 49, said her namesake killed her fisherman husband. She and her son Jimboy,18, also of Barangay Cogon here, were also among the recipients of an NVC fiberglass boat.

Yolanda said her husband, Arturo, 52, did not evacuate with her and their six children. He stayed near the shoreline to watch their house and fishing boat and, in the end,they were all lost to “Yolanda,” she said.

She said they lost their breadwinner, but with the new boat, they will be able to earn P300 on slow days andup to P700 on good days, from fishing.

Edgardo Cabarubias, 43, of Barangay San Joaquin, Palo, had to raise three children on his own since his wife left them a long time ago.

When Yolanda hit, his family lost everything they owned, too, and they had to live in a makeshift shelter and rely on dwindling food aid since.

Edgardo said he is very happy the NVC gave him a banca.

“A banca is better than being given a house, because now I can earn money again to keep my family alive, without having to rely on dole-outs,” Edgardo said.*CPG

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