Iloilo and Ayala Land’s sustained rehabilitation projects
More than three years after Super Typhoon Yolanda, Ayala Land, together with Ayala Corporation, Ayala Foundation and representatives of the local government, reaffirms its commitment to support the fishing communities devastated by the typhoon. A “Palukso” commercial fishing vessel was recently turned over to the community alongside the groundbreaking of a fish processing facility in Barangay Jolog, Estancia, Northern Iloilo province.
Joining the ceremonial turnover of the 80ft x 10ft, 18-man crew fishing vessel were representatives of the Ayala group and boat captain, Jason Jordan, who received the donation on behalf of the community. The “Palukso” is estimated to earn between Php 40,000 to Php 150,000 per cycle in low and high catch assumptions through commercial fishing.
On the same day, the Ayala group, together with its partners, also led groundbreaking rites to begin the retrofitting work on a 300-sqm structure located at the community center of the Uswag Sicogon Homeowners Association (USWAGON HOA) Housing in Barangay Jolog which will serve as the community’s fish processing facility. The facility will be operated by 100 members of the community, some of whom have been originally trained by UP Visayas Institute of Fish Processing Technology in Iloilo City. The locals have started to do backyard operations and have marketed to certain areas in several Ayala Malls location, earning an average of PhP 8,000 per month from producing tuloy, sap-sap, tabagak, liwit, palata, dilis, pusit and danggit, among other fish products. To increase efficiency and scale, the dried fish processing facility, which was funded by the Ayala group will help the local community market their products to larger distribution channels such as supermarkets, Seda Hotels and even the export market. By April of this year, their operations will be regulated by a multi-stakeholder cooperative.
“With the increased commercial activities in the area, Jolog Port development and road access improvement through government partnerships, we hope to make Jolog a thriving tourist destination that will generate greater economic benefit for the local community,” says Tony Aquino, member of the Ayala Land Board of Directors and one of the proponents of post-Yolanda initiatives.
Livelihood projects such as the Jolog fish processing project are part of Alagang Ayala Land, the company’s commitment to social development and environmental stewardship, as well as the Ayala group of companies’ Bulig Bisaya initiatives for Yolanda-affected communities. To date, the Ayala group has invested over PhP 400 million for relief, recovery, and rehabilitation initiatives. There are currently 160 families in Jolog and about 192 more are expected to move in by the third quarter of 2017.
“We strongly believe and hope that poverty alleviation will be achieved through tourism projects. These will give us various job opportunities and help us improve our fishing methods,” says Randy Bernal, President of USWAGON Homeowner’s Association and resident of Jolog.
Aside from the fish processing plant and “Palukso” in Jolog, Ayala Land stays committed to its promise of supporting local economic growth and nation-building by accelerating a series of extensive livelihood and tourism-related training programs that have commenced since 2016 to promote inclusive growth.
The company, which is currently developing Iloilo’s famed Sicogon Island into a sustainable tourism estate continues to conduct community engagement, skills training, and capacity building initiatives.
Since its inception, 451 houses (temporary and permanent), 400 boats, 59 classrooms, a training facility, covered court, and a health center have been built. The locals are also being prepared to maximize job opportunities that will result from the development of the estate and the eventual influx of tourists. A total of 280 locals have been trained to-date in Housekeeping, Food & Beverage Service, Cookery, Construction, Native Plant Nurturing and Landscaping, Transport Service, Kayak Boat Making, Weaving, and Massage Therapy. Nearly 200 locals have now been employed in Sicogon Island.