Helping the Community from the Bottom-Up
For 20 years, Bantay Kalikasan (BK), environment arm of ABS-CBN LingkodKapamilya, has committed its mission to protect the environment and to help the communities from the bottom-up.
To fulfill its mission, BK implements grassroots interventions and grants livelihood opportunities to various people’s organizations. The program believes that through this intervention, people will avoid resorting to different extractive activities, such as slash-and-burn, illegal fishing, and irresponsible mining. To date, Bantay Kalikasan has assisted over 100 people’s organizationsin various provinces all over the country.
One of these sites is located in Sibuyan Island. The island is known to be the world’s densest forests and is home to the rich flora and fauna only found in the area. Because coconut trees are abundant in Sibuyan, a Virgin Coconut Oil Plant was built.
This livelihood project aims to transform and uplift the lives of the communities through the production of Virgin Coconut Oil and by-products.
Bantay Kalikasan held the groundbreaking in June 2015, and the construction was on September 2016. The program recognized that this project was not going to be as easy as it sounds. There were a lot of things they had to consider; including the 19-hour travel from Manila to the island. “A lot of consultations happened just to make sure that we follow different standards; building facility, electricity and water supply, so that the VCO product is well produced. We also had to give different trainings to the community so that they are ready to work inside the plant,”Cattleya Victoria, BantayKalikasan’s Operations Head shared.
It was only recently, May 2018, when Bantay Kalikasan finally launched and turned over the project to Canjalon Agrarian Reform Cooperative (CARC), the recipients of project. The plant requires ten workers but there would be a rotational activity so everyone has an equal chance to work. In addition, around 300 coconut farmers will also benefit from it.
Elvira Regala, a member of CARC, expressed her joy and excitement in behalf of other members. “Now that we have the VCO plant, we will be working hard and we will take good care of the equipment donated to us. We will make sure that a good quality of VCO will be produced. We want to thank everyone who helped us. This is a great opportunity for all of us here,” she said.
Bantay Kalikasan implemented the project through collaborative efforts and donations of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation-Operation Sagip, ABS-CBN Foundation US, AKATEK Solutions through Pass It Forward, Municipal Government of San Fernando Romblon, Local Government of Brgy. Canjalon San Fernando, Department of Agrarian Reform, and Philippine Coconut Authority.
Aside from the VCO plant, Bantay Kalikasan is also assisting other eco-tourism projects in Sibuyan Island, which serve as sources of income of the communities. These are the Dagubdob Picnic Grove and Bila-bila Falls in Municipality of San Fernado and the Lambingan Falls in Municipality of Magdiwang.
“All of our communities have a special place in our heart. We deal with people, we build relationships with them, and it’s just so heartwarming when your dreams with them come to fruition. It becomes a reality when they take it on and they build on it and they roll it many times over,” Jen Santos, Bantay Kalikasan’s Program Director shared.