Feature: Small fishermen casting net into DOLE's livelihood program
By Franklin P. Gumapon
Dipolog City (18 June) -- Squatting on a public land and living on fishing were the kind of life the small fishermen of this city were used to until they were transferred to a relocation site.
At first they felt disgusted of the plan by the city government to relocate them to Barangay Olingan in this city, as this would adversely affect their main livelihood which is fishing. Negotiations after negotiations were made with the city leadership until these fishermen were assured of residential lots and financial assistance for them to build their houses.
As these fishermen went fishing, they also thought of alternative livelihood to augment their income. This had reached the ears of Lourdes Pabiluna, the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) manager of the city government who prodded them to organize themselves into an association.
An initial group of twenty eight composed of fishermen and housewives took the lead in organizing themselves into an association named Olingan Relocation People's Organization (ORPO) and had it registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under the Bureau of Rural Workers (BRW) category.
With the city government as a conduit, the group was able to secure a grant of P100,000 for a bakery project from the DOLE under its Training cum Production (TCP) scheme.
Now operating for seven long years since 2002, ORPO's bakery business continues to expand with the support and guidance of the city government of Dipolog and the provincial office of DOLE-Zamboanga del Norte.
ORPO president Teodora Undag admitted that the bakery project also went through ups and downs in its operations. But the association has managed to weather the trying times to keep the bakery business going. It has now employed five workers who all enjoy health and insurance coverage of Philhealth and Social Security System (SSS) aside from receiving yearly dividends out of the profits that the bakery project earns.
The association has also put up a mini-grocery store catering to the basic necessities among the residents there.
From its income, ORPO has been able to procure new bakery equipment and delivery vehicles, and plans to renovate and/or extend its building.
According to Judith Benedicto, a local DOLE staff, ORPO's total assets today account for more or less P700,000.
For ORPO officers and members, there is always a chance to improve one's living condition so long as the support and assistance of the government are complemented with industry and hard work by the beneficiaries. (PIA-ZN) [top]