Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sibunag Seaweeds Project Launched

(Left. The guests and beneficiaries during the launching. Right. The billboard during the unveiling.)

“Hope floats after the oil spill disaster”.

This was the general feeling when the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and its partner, the Trans Asia Oil and Energy Development Corporation, launched the Sibunag Seaweed Farming Project last June 1, 2007. This was done in the Municipality of Sibunag, Province of Guimaras.

The project is a part of the Guimaras Area Resource Management Program (GARMP), which is PBSP’s response to the August 11, 2006 MT Solar 1 oil spill disaster in the province. PBSP with its member companies aim to help the affected communities have access to livelihood opportunities. One of these companies is the Trans Asia Oil, which is a subsidiary of the Phinma Group of Companies, an active PBSP Member Company, based in Makati City, Philippines.

On May 31, 2007, one day before the launching, PBSP met the community leaders of the five participating coastal barangays in the Municipality of Sibunag, namely: Bubog, San Isidro, Alegria, Sebaste and Sabang, which was also co-facilitated by the Municipal Agriculture Office of Sibunag. During this orientation attended by more than 30 beneficiaries and guests, the Sibunag Municipal Agriculture Officer, Mr. Paciano Opelario, welcomed everybody and encouraged the beneficiaries to participate actively. Mr. Danilo Cerence, Manager of PBSP Visayas, discussed the project briefly.

(Left. Consulting the beneficiaries during the site selection. Right. During the project orientation.)

Further, PBSP, through its Technical Officer, Mr. Rey Oliver Perez, conducted a basic orientation on the farming practices or monoline seaweed farming. There was an open forum conducted which discussed various issues pertaining to the project.

To close the one-day orientation, Engr. Arlon Menchavez, Plant Superintendent of Trans Asia Oil, Guimaras Plant, thanked the beneficiaries for their involvement and challenged the stakeholder to implement the project to the best of their ability.

The following day, June 1, 2007, the project was officially launched, attended by more than 50 beneficiaries and guests.

PBSP, with Trans Asia Oil and the Municipality of Sibunag signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the five participating barangays, for their participation on the Sibunag Seaweeds Project. Engr. Danilo Panes, Vice President of Trans Asia Oil and Engr. Arlon Menchavez, Trans Asia Oil Guimaras Plant Superintendent, were present. Also represented were the government line agencies, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, the Guimaras Provincial Planning and Development Officer (PPDO), and the representative of the Mayor of Sibunag, Councilor Fe Segovia.

(Left. During the MOA signing with participating barangays. Right. Engr. Panes giving his speech.)

Engr. Panes delighted the guests with his speech saying his hopes for more progressive communities now with the seaweed projects. The Mayor’s representative delivered a rousing speech saying how glad the Municipality is to have received such assistance from Trans Asia Oil and PBSP. Engr. Corpuz, Guimaras PPDO delivered a short but inspiring message to the farmers. Mr. Rebecca De la Cerna, the Senior Provincial Agriculturist, delivered the closing message by telling the history leading towards the organization of the Sibunag Seaweeds Growers Federation.

Part II of the project launching was held in Brgy. Sabang, Sibunag. Guests and beneficiaries traveled to the coastal site where the project billboard was unveiled led by Engr. Panes of Trans Asia Oil. Afterwards was a ceremonial planting of seaweeds on a monoline and representatives from the participating beneficiaries placed the monoline on the sea. This showed how the project is being done.

(During the ceremonial seaweeds planting; with community leaders and guests.)

Beneficiaries and the local officials appreciated the successful two-day activities, as they consider the project a blessing after the oil spill tragedy that could help the affected communities generate additional income.

(The monoline launched to the sea after the ceremonial planting.)