Philippine Self-Help Foundation

Judy with children Angelo, Angela and husband Ruel.

 Judy with daughter Angela and husband Ruel in front of their market stall.

Only 11 years old, Angelo knows the names of a lot of local fishes, from mackerels to breams, snappers, moon fish, etc. He comes from a fishing family; his father, Ruel (45), is a fisherman and his mother Judy (50) is his helper. While Judy casts the net, Ruel keeps the boat steady. When there are no classes, it is Angelo who goes out to the sea with his father to catch fish. His older sister Angela (18) is the one who usually prepares the family’s meals.

The family lives in the seaside village of Linaon, about 135 kilometres south of Bacolod city, the provincial capital. Their house is a dilapidated wooden structure about 50 meters from the water’s edge. There are two children in the family; Angelo who is in grade seven and Angela who entered college last month. She is in her first year in Agriculture in the local state college.

Two years ago, Ruel received a loan of 12,000 pesos from the PSHF which enabled him to buy an engine for his fishing boat. By having a motorised boat, he was able to go out farther offshore to better fishing grounds and have a bigger catch. With a bigger income, he was able to save money to have his kitchen roof repaired. More significantly he was also able to acquire a fishing net of his own, albeit a small one.

Ruel fully paid back his loan last month and this time, he would like to borrow money again to buy a ‘specialised’ net. The one which he has now is only good for catching smaller fish such as the flying cod which are abundant in the rainy season, June to September. During the “amihan” or northeast monsoon, from October onwards, a different net will be needed. Ruel would like to have a fishing net with three different hole sizes so that he will only have to bring one net when he goes fishing. Recently he was offered this kind of net but at a hefty cost of 20,000 pesos. He is keen to buy it because he would be able to use it immediately. The price of the ready-made fishing net is well beyond his reach and so he has approached the PSHF to apply for a loan of this amount.

Fishing is hard work and sometimes Ruel and Judy come home with an empty net. They are the ones to sell their catch from a ‘puesto’ or stall in the little village market. When they have a big catch, Ruel peddles fish on a motorcycle with a sidecar in the neighbouring communities. Overall, the couple make an average monthly income of 12,000 pesos ($240) which is enough to meet the family’s basic living expenses. With better fishing equipment, they anticipate additional earnings of 2,000 pesos per month. They can do with an increased income as Angel is in college now. Ruel and Judy are thankful to the PSHF for enabling them to improve their fishing equipment.

Bernadette G. Togado

PSHF Negros Occidental

September 2019