Before the sun rises Renante (37) goes out to sea with his two fishing companions. They go on a motorised boat and reach their destination which is about three miles from the shore at around 5 AM. They cast their ‘pukot’ or net and then wait for five hours to haul it back. While waiting, they cook breakfast, mainly rice and fish, and eat on the boat. On an exceptionally good fishing trip, they can catch as much as 30 kilos of fish but usually they would get one-third of that which is worth 1,000 pesos ($20) when sold. They go back to the shore between 12 noon to 2 PM. Vendors and the fishing boat owner are waiting for them there. After deducting fuel expenses, the proceeds are halved; one half goes to the owner and the other half is shared by Renante and his two companions. In a week they usually earn 600 pesos ($12) each.
Renante would be able to earn more if he had his own rowing boat and a fishing net. This is the reason why he has applied for a loan of 13,000 pesos from the PSHF. He needs 10,000 pesos to buy materials for a fishing net and 3,000 pesos for the purchase of a second hand rowing boat otherwise known as a banca. With his own fishing gear, Renante hopes to increase his present income by 500 pesos per week. He will still need a fishing companion but from now on, he will get two thirds of the proceeds, being the owner, while his companion will get one-third.
Renante lives with his wife and seven children in a thatched dirt-floored house in the fishing village of Calaogao. His wife Emie (36) is the main income earner in the family. She is a ‘volantera’ or a market vendor who follows the market day schedules of the different villages in her in her southern Negros Occidental hometown of Cauayan. She sells sea salt, an important commodity in the rural areas, and she makes an average income of 2,500 pesos ($50) a week.
Emie comes from the neighbouring central Philippine island of Cebu whereas Renante was born and raised in Calaogao on Negros island. They both went to Manila in their teens to find greener pastures. It was in 2003 when their paths crossed because their respective employers were sisters. A few years later they started living together and in 2006 decided to go home to Renante’s hometown in Negros.
The family have little in terms of material possessions; they only have a radio and a mobile phone which unfortunately broke down recently. Despite being poor, they lead a generally happy and contented life. The parents are keen for their children to get some education as well as training in order to get a good job someday.
Presently the combined income of Emie and and Renante is just enough to buy food and other basic commodities. The improvement in Renante’s own income from fishing will put more food on the table for the family. He and Emie are grateful to the PSHF for this opportunity to improve his livelihood.
Bernadette G. Togado
PSHF Negros Occidental