RISING HEROES: Fisherfolk As Our Frontliners
The story of Mr. Lorenzo Borja
Lorenzo’s passion for fishing started in his hometown in Surigao. Lorenzo’s family lives near a river and has their own fishpond. As his life revolves around fishing, Lorenzo eventually entered into the fishing industry in the 1970’s.
Being involved in the fishery sector, Lorenzo made it his advocacy to uplift the lives of the fisherfolk community in his town. Witnessing the everyday struggles and plight of the fisherfolk, he started providing assistance by helping the fisherfolk market their catch and fishery products to clients in various private and public establishments. At times, he would also provide fishing gears and pump boats to fisherfolks, as well as, extend financial aid to their children in order to assist them in their studies.
Amidst the service and efforts rendered to provide assistance, Lorenzo admitted that it was not an easy feat. His business suffered financial losses due to his decision to promote the welfare of the fisherfolk. Nonetheless, with all the valuable life lessons and experiences from his efforts to help others, not once did he consider any of it as a loss.
“Hangang ngayon, ang kapalit lang ng lahat ng ito ay ang kaligayahang ibinibigay sa akin tuwing kumakain ako ng bagong huling isda at gumagalaw pa, parang hindi ko naiisip ang lugi ko masayang-masaya ako. ‘Di ko naramdaman kung ano man ang nawala sa akin, dahil sa kaligayahang idinulot sa akin kasama ang mga mangingisda.”
In 2016, Lorenzo became the President of the Federation of Fisherfolk Associations of Davao City (FFADC). As the leader of more than seven thousand members from the 24 coastal barangays and 72 associations in Davao City, his responsibility extends to more than just providing them livelihood assistance. He likewise ensures efficient management and leadership within the associations.
To achieve his goals of providing opportunities to the Federation members, Lorenzo consistently coordinates with BFAR 11 to expand and maximize the fisherfolk’s potential in fish productivity and security. BFAR 11 was able to provide technical support, fishing gears and equipment as well as other project opportunities.
This year, however, exhibits a glaring difference because of the great challenge posed by the existence of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lorenzo expressed that the COVID-19 crisis placed heavier weight on his shoulders as the community is threatened not only of the health risks but also by the limited movement resulting to decreased fish production.
Notwithstanding the prevailing circumstance, he is still grateful for the continued services and activities of BFAR-11 amidst the crisis, which sparked him hope and inspiration to boost his efforts to render services and to enjoin his colleagues towards their goal to achieve and sustain fish productivity.
“Magpasalamat lang ako sa Team BFAR dahil sa mga naitulong nila sa akin at sa aming mga mangingisda. Special mention ko si Director Fatma Idris, salamat sa mga tulong ninyo sa amin sa Federation of Fisherfolks Association of Davao City.”
For Lorenzo, this year may certainly be filled with challenges. But with cooperation and compliance, he believes that the country will overcome it all. He stressed that times may be uncertain, but it is important that we turn these problems into opportunities to learn and to be a better man for others.