‘Regional fisherfolk director’ wants housing for fishermen
By Yolanda Sotelo
SAN FERNANDO CITY – A fisherman who came home from working in Italy as a houseboy, hoped the government would look into the housing problem of fisherfolk who are being eased away from the coastal areas because of tourism.
Dioniso Lazo Bembo, 56, said while tourism development is good for the economy, it has displaced fisherfolk who are mostly residing in coastal villages.
“Maraming beach properties nabili na ng foreigners at ginagawang resort. Pag tuloy-tuloy ito saan kami pupunta? Nasasaktan na ang mga mangingisda sa tourism development,” he said.
Bembo was chosen to be “Regional Fisherfolk Director” for the month of May by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region I. As such, he is tasked to come up and implement projects for fishery development for a month, but would not be involved in fiscal management.
Bembo worked in Italy as a houseboy of an American diplomat from 1990-2004.
He said he met the diplomat who rented his fishing boat to go around the Hundred Islands National Park, and offered him to be his houseboy in Italy.
“I worked very hard in Italy. Aside from keeping the diplomat’s house clean, I also had ‘sidelines’ cleaning the houses of neighbors. I wanted my three children complete their university courses so I fought loneliness in a foreign country,” he said.
When Bembo returned to the Philippines, he went back to fishing which is something “I really love doing.”
But he was able to buy two motorized fishing boats which he uses to catch fish in the sea. “The fishing boat that was rented by the diplomat was not mine, it belonged to another fisherman with whom I shared my catch,” he said.
Bembo was also able to invest in a 2.5 hectare agricultural lot in Caba, La Union which he himself tills, planting it to rice, tobacco and sometimes watermelon.
During his one-month stint as regional fisherfolk director, Bembo plans to conduct massive information drive against illegal fishing, including “teaching” the fishermen about the need to preserve the fish sanctuaries established by the BFAR and coastal local governments.
“There are intended zones for fishing like the payaw areas, they can catch fish there as long as they use sustainable means of fishing like hook and line,” he said.
Bembo also asked the government to give fishing boats to each fishermen as many of them cannot afford to buy their own and have to rent from other fishermen.
“They do not need the big, motorized bancas. They can use small boats as long as it belong to them so they do not have to rent,” he said.
The BFAR gives motorized bancas to fisherfolk associations, but Bembo said sometimes it is only the officers who use the bancas.
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