How Batangas plans to help Taal Volcano Island residents displaced by the eruption

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

LIPA CITY, Philippines— The Batangas provincial government assured residents whose livelihoods were affected by the Taal Volcano eruption of assistance in finding new sources of income.

During the Batangas Economic Recovery Roundtable last Friday, Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas said the provincial government would help the residents 

“’Yung di makakabalik (sa Volcano island), we will give them work similar to what they [were] doing,” Mandanas said.

Mandanas said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will help with the training.

Garment production

He said some of those affected by the eruption may make and sell garments in Ibaan, Batangas, which is known for making mosquito nets and garments.  Mandanas said they are already putting up a big garment operation there.

'Ash to cash' program

The governor said since some of the residents no longer have source of livelihood on the shoreline, the province plans to come up with an “ash to cash” program to convert volcanic ash into construction materials.

"The ash, as you know, is a very good material for bricks and for hollow blocks,” he said.

According to the governor, Republic Cement already agreed to give the Batangas government a discounted price on cement for the hollow blocks.

He said the bricks and hollow blocks can be sold to contractors in Metro Manila, where several big-ticket infrastructure projects are underway.

He added that they are also looking into converting the ashes into fertilizer.


 “Ash is a very good fertilizer. That’s why the land around the Taal lake are very fertile,” Mandanas said.

Planting and fish-farming

To take advantage of the fertile volcanic soil, the governor said the province will also put up nurseries for crops like coffee and cacao.

“With that, we will now propagate it— sell it to the different backyard people and they can grow their own barako coffee and cacao,” he said.

Aside from these, Mandanas said residents may also engaged into fish cage farming.

The governor said that some people are unaware that Batangas province has a marine cultural laboratory in Lemery where they culture lapu-lapu and develop feeds for them in fish cages.

“So we will move them... instead of feeding tilapia, they will be feeding lapu-lapu which fetches higher prices,” he said, adding residents can also engage in other traditional livelihood such as piggeries and poultry farms.

Mandanas cited that Batangas is among the top provinces that processes chicken and pork with several ongoing contracts with food firms such as San Miguel Corp. and Jollibee, among others.

“As you know, 25% of fish in Metro Manila comes from Batangas, same thing with pork,” he said.

Opportunity for new tourism livelihood

Meanwhile, Saturnino Belen, chair of First Asia Venture Capital Inc. and president of FAITH Colleges, said the private sector is also looking into providing new livelihood for the displaced residents.

“Yes, we will try to provide them the traditional livelihood that they’re used to but we will create new livelihood, and for the Taal Lake district, that new livelihood is really tourism,” Belen said, adding that new tourism ventures must now be data-driven.

Belen said that mapping should be done to see which parts of Taal can be developed.

Up to 5,000 Taal Volcano Island residents were displaced by the volcano eruption last January 12, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Council.

Mark Timbal, spokesperson of the NDRRMC, said that tourism had been the main livelihood of the residents on the volcano island.

He also said the national government would give them assistance on agricultural activities since they can no longer bring tourists to the island.

 “Ililipat na sila (They would be transferred) from tourism to something else,” Timbal said late January.

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