Dumaguete residents on why they oppose the Smart City reclamation

NEGROS ORIENTAL, Philippines – Rappler went round the streets and seas of Dumaguete City to ask frequent people about their ideas on the controversial 174-hectare Smart City reclamation mission being proposed by the native authorities.

Whereas the P23-billion enterprise guarantees to offer extra jobs, appeal to investments, and combat poverty in the coastal metropolis, learn the tales of some people who might be affected most by the reclamation.  

Dumaguete: ‘City of Gentle People’ fights to save coastal life

The fisherman
Art work by Isabel Gutang

Beginning when he was seven years previous, Esperatu “Esping” Abudi already accompanied his father to fish in the waters off the coast of Barangay Bantayan, Dumaguete City. However nothing in comparison with the first time he fished on his personal.

“‘Yung mama ko at papa ko, pumunta doon sa Sibulan. Sinisigawan ako, ‘Esping, nasaan ka na?’ Tapos, narinig naman nila yung boses ko, dia ra ko, sabi ko. ‘Pauli na,’ [kaya ni] pauli ko. Pero hindi nila alam, maraming ganyang kalaking pusit. Tag-iisang kilo siguro yun bawat isa. Yun, nakahuli ako ng siyam na piraso.” he remembered.

(My mom and father went to Sibulan. I heard them shouting, Esping, where are you? Come home! What they didn’t know was that I had caught 9 items of squid, every weighing a few kilo.)

Having fun with the sea’s bountiful catch, Abudi would proceed fishing by himself, till he ultimately gained confidence. “I was so happy to have caught a lot of fishes then. They were so big,” he recalled excitedly in Cebuano whereas estimating the measurement of the fish utilizing his palms. “That was when I thought I didn’t want to continue studying.”

Regardless of not ending his research, Abudi, now 66 years previous, says fishing has supplied sufficient for his spouse and 5 youngsters. When business fish are in season, he may earn as a lot as P4,000 to P6,000 in simply three to 4 hours of fishing. However throughout lean days, Abudi’s earnings is supplemented by doing development work and his spouse doing laundry.

Abudi and the fisherfolk of Bantayan are firmly against the proposed 174-hectare Smart City reclamation mission, which he says will wreck their most important supply of livelihood that has sustained them for years.

He believes that the proponents won’t ever grasp the happiness and contentment borne out of their dependence on the sea’s bounty. Abudi, additionally the president of the native fisherfolk affiliation, says the mission’s proponents by no means even approached them for any type of session earlier than and after the mission was publicly revealed.

“Kasi, ang dagat, para sa mga mahihirap na mangingisda. Sila eh de-opisina sila…magaganda ang hanapbuhay nila, hindi sila interesado sa dagat, kasi hindi naman talaga panghanapbuhay nila ang pangingisda. Siyempre, kahit hindi sila magdasal, siguro ’yung pera nila, kasi kumikita sila sa suweldo nila. Kami, wala. Pumalaot kami, dasal kami, ‘Lord maawa ka, bigyan mo kami ng isda ngayon,’” Abudi stated.

(The ocean is for the poor fishermen. In the meantime, [the proponents] work in workplaces, they’ve acquired good jobs, they should not serious about the sea, as a result of fishing shouldn’t be their livelihood. Even when they don’t pray, they proceed incomes their wage. Once we sail, we pray, Lord have mercy, give us fish today.”) 

Looking to the crystal blue waters, which have sustained their group for years, Abudi can not assist however nonetheless marvel at their kinaiyahan (surroundings), whereas vowing to guard it.

“‘Yan, protektahan [namin] ‘yan kasi para sa amin…kung nangingisda kami naramdaman mo talaga ‘yung nakahuli ka, masabi mo sa isip mo, ‘Maraming salamat, Lord, binigyan mo ako ng ganito kalaking isda. Makabili na ako ng pagkain sa mga anak ko.’ Hindi mo maintindihan ‘yung gaano kasaya ‘yang nararamdaman mo sa loob mo,” he stated.

(This, we’ll defend this as a result of, for us once you fish, you actually really feel grateful that you just caught one thing. You assume, “Thank you, Lord, you gave us such a big catch. I can already buy food for my children.” You can’t absolutely perceive how completely satisfied you’re feeling inside.)

The fish vendor
Art work by Gab Ferrer

Over 4 a long time in the past, Inday’s* day consisted of finding out at the Central College then going straight to the close by Dumaguete City public market proper after her courses. She would often accompany her mom in merchandising recent fish catch to earn an allowance for the subsequent day. It was a modest life-style Inday sustained till she had her circle of relatives.

Now 56 years previous and inheriting her mom’s spot in the market, Inday continues the commerce to offer for her household’s wants. Fish distributors like her normally earn about P300 to P600 a day, and kind of P3,000 per week for a job with out days off. 

Isda sa bato or reef fishes, tulingan, matambaka, galunggong, and diwit are amongst the frequent fish species she sells. However none of those are her favourite as she’s content material with what the sea would bless them. 

Inday first heard the information of the 174-hectare reclamation mission over the radio. Since then, she would hear neighbors and monks typically converse of halting the mission in solidarity with the poor communities in the metropolis. From her data, seven villages might be straight affected if the proposal pushes by way of. 

“’Pag nandyan ’yung mga mangingisda, nandito pa rin kami. Kung wala sila, saan na lang kami pupunta? Kasi wala na kaming ibebenta at kabuhayan,” stated Inday, who opposes the mission given its the drastic impacts to her small enterprise and her suki or fish suppliers.

(If the fishermen are there, we’ll nonetheless be right here. If they are gone, the place will we go? We received’t have fish to promote. We will even lose our livelihood.)

Although the metropolis mayor beforehand claimed that the Smart City mission would offer extra jobs and investments for Dumaguete, Inday and her fellow distributors are unsure if these livelihood alternatives might be inclusive for everybody, particularly for the old-aged who can nonetheless fish at sea and people who didn’t end formal schooling.

Inday additionally means that urbanization would solely enhance the crime charge in the metropolis. Ought to the institution of casinos and nightclubs be a part of the plans, she thinks vices might be rampant and will negatively affect individuals’s actions, significantly placing the youth in danger. 

Given this, Inday calls on the nationwide authorities to assist them cease the reclamation mission. She and fellow distributors urge the native authorities to help their livelihood as an alternative by giving fisherfolk pump boats, and addressing points in the market comparable to excessive taxation, yearly stall leases, and strict penalties that drown them in debt.   

Past these troubles, Inday and her fellow distributors share that they wish to retain the market, too, due to the constructed group which makes it their second house.

“Marami kang matutunan dito eh, kabuhayan talaga. Karamihan dito mga pamilyado talaga, matutugunan mo ‘yung pangangailangan mo. Malilibang ka rin kasi nagtutulungan din dito eh. Kung wala kang isda, bibigyan ka nila ‘pag meron silang stock. ‘Pag wala ring pang-ulam share-share din, parang nasa bahay ka lang din. Pamilya mo na rin dito kasalamuha mo…. Parang bahay na talaga, bahagi na talaga ng buhay namin [ang tiangge],” certainly one of them stated.

(You’ll study so much right here, particularly about doing enterprise. Most of us right here have households, you may meet your wants. Additionally, you will take pleasure in it since individuals listed below are serving to one another. In case you don’t have fish, they will provide you with if they have a inventory. If we don’t have meals, we additionally share, similar to you might be house. They’re already a household whom you socialize with, the market is already like our house, part of our lives.)

The tricycle driver
Art work by Paola Erika Salutin

Sporting his polo shirt and worn-out slippers throughout a typical scorching March day, Desiderio Ocampo transports every kind of passengers round Dumaguete City. From 4 am till 10 am, he can be out working onerous in the streets as a pedicab driver to help his household’s wants. 

Ocampo, 56, has been on this line of livelihood for 36 years. He is aware of the ins and outs of the commerce ever since watching his father, who additionally drove a pedicab. By this job, Ocampo was in a position to present for his spouse and lift his 5 youngsters.

Throughout the pandemic, nevertheless, pedicab drivers like Ocampo had been amongst the hardest hit resulting from the lockdowns and social distancing restrictions imposed by authorities. His spouse, a waitress at a streetside eatery, additionally misplaced her job, making it harder for them to pay dues and lease. 

This pressured Ocampo to show to fishing.

Fortunately, a kind-hearted man from certainly one of the barangays gave him monetary help to cowl his bills and get supplies used for his new line of labor. Again then, he earned P1,500 per week to help his household throughout the coronavirus lockdowns.

That is why the subject of the proposed 174-hectare reclamation mission is deeply private for Ocampo.

“Akong pamilya nag-agi sa sobrang kalisod ning panahon sa pandemya kung diin sa pagpangisda kami nabuhi tungod kay limitado lang ang pasaherong pwede namo isakay matag byahe maong dili angay na pasipadpad-an nato ang gasa sa kinaiyahan,” he stated.

(My household suffered a lot throughout the pandemic, and, by way of fishing, my household survived. Resulting from limitations on passenger capability, we misplaced our earnings. That’s why we should defend the reward of nature.)

For a Lumad Dumaguetnon (Dumaguete native) like Ocampo, talking out to guard their beloved metropolis on behalf of different pedicab drivers is a “privilege,” an act that he’s proud to partake in.

​​“Ako, isip usa ka lumad na lumolopyo sa siyudad sa Dumagute, akong gipahingosgan ang pagbabag sa planong reklamasyon niining atong bililhong natawhan. Mahitungod kay kini mamahimong makaguba sa atong kinaiyahan kung diin kitang tanan mamahimong maapektuhan. Nasayod akong dili mao ang paghimo sa Smart City ang makatabang aron atong siyudad magmalamboon apan ang pagtinabangay sa matag Dumaguetenons niining lugara,” he stated.

(I, as a resident of Dumaguete City, strongly oppose this reclamation plan for my hometown. It is because it would destroy our nature, and thus, all of us might be affected. I consider constructing a ‘Smart City’ shouldn’t be the answer for a extra progressive metropolis, however it’s by way of the Dumaguetnons’ unity and collective effort.] – Rappler.com

*The true title of the topic has been modified given fears of reprisal.

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