The 41-year-old fisherman, Romel Marcelino, lives in a simple house near the coast of Barangay Barosbos, Carles, Iloilo with his wife, Estrellita, and their six children aged 5-18 years old when Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) hit Northern Iloilo last November 8, 2013, leaving thousands of families homeless without any means to recover their livelihood. During that time, Marcelino did not only face the problem of how to provide for the needs of his family but also how to help the 35 affected members of Barangay Barosbos Mananagat Association (BBMA), the fisherfolks association of which he is the President. However, their situation did not stop him and his members from volunteering during the relief efforts of the NGOs like Iloilo CODE-NGOs, providing services as haulers for relief distribution and transportation since they were able to preserve one pump boat owned by the association.
Marcelino in Action
A few months after the typhoon, Iloilo CODE-NGOs, with funding from Christian Aid-UK, constructed a solar charging station for BBMA to provide its energy needs for lighting and to charge batteries of the association’s patrol boat and the members’ motorized boats. These fisherfolks did not have any formal training or the skills in construction but they managed to build the dome-type structure and fabricated the solar charging equipment under the supervision of Mr. Eduardo Arroyo who was also the one who designed the structure and fabricated the solar charger as Iloilo CODE-NGOs’ Technical Person on Solar Energy. The labor cost was their counterpart. They would work on shifts every afternoon so that their fishing could go on in the morning and still bring home enough income to buy their daily needs. It took them one month to finish the structure and when the solar charger was installed they were able to enjoy its services. The structure also served as their office where they gather for meetings and store their association’s equipment and documents.
When Iloilo CODE-NGOs started implementing its rehabilitation project in the municipalities of Carles, Estancia and Concepcion, BBMA officers and members continued their active involvement and support through the strong leadership of Romel. Iloilo CODE-NGOs was able to generate the support of the fisherfolks and the communities to protect the fishing grounds and establish marine protected areas. He became a trainer and foreman for the construction of artificial reefs and the same dome-type structures in selected coastal and island barangays of Carles and Estancia. He and his members were even sub-contracted by Iloilo CODE-NGOs’ shelter contractors to build core shelter units in Pantalan, Carles. This provided him additional continuous income of Php 650 a day to support his children’s education and buy more food for his family. “Subong makapreparar na kami duha ukon 3 ka sud-an kada kalan-an kag makabakal sang gatas para sa mga bata. Makabakal naman kami sang iban nga mga gamit sa wholesale kag naka save kami (Now we can serve 2-3 viands every meal and buy milk for the children. We can also buy non-food items in wholesale and save on cost),” he said. When his 16-year-old daughter had dengue last March 2016 he had the means to provide for her medical expenses reaching up to Php 22,000 from the training and labor fees provided by the Iloilo CODE-NGOs projects.
Romel Marcelino puts the visibility plate on one of the shelters he constructed.
Romel’s involvement in the projects of Iloilo CODE-NGOs enhanced his skills in carpentry especially in shelter construction. It also enhanced his skills in leadership and construction management which developed his confidence in becoming a good construction foreman. “Nakahibalo na akon mag manage sang akon time. Nahagan-hagan na ang akon mga bisyo pareho sang pag-inom. Subong makasiling ako nga mas responsible na ako nga tatay, bana kag lider (I learned to manage my time. I was able to minimize unproductive activities like drinking. Now I can say that I am a more responsible father, husband and leader),” Marcelino said. (By Faye Joy Pabiona)