Arts and Culture

‘We depend on seas not politicians’: Fisherman receives Ramon Magsaysay Award 2021

Earl D.C. Bracamonte - Philstar.com
âWe depend on seas not politiciansâ: Fisherman receives Ramon Magsaysay Award 2021
Roberto Ballon or Ka Dudoy

MANILA, Philippines — A fisherman from a long line of fisherfolk, Roberto Ballon or Ka Dudoy as he is fondly called, went on a voyage of self-sacrifice to cure the ailing seas and transform their community into a thriving marine sanctuary it has become today.

In 1986, he started the Kapunungan sa Gagmayng Mangingisda sa Concepcion (KGMC) in his small village in Balongis, Barrio Concepcion in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay. The small mangrove reforestation project aimed at resuscitating a severely depleted marine environment soon attracted government support.

In 2015, the once small endeavor has expanded into 500 hectares of rich mangrove forests. The quality of life improved for all and fishermen were now sending their children to school. Thereafter, the pilot project was replicated in other areas of the province. KGMC is also into seaweed farming, one of its many protected and sustained marine projects.

Ka Dudoy has revived his community's dying fishing industry. He, together with other fishermen, has shown that everyday acts of kindness can be transformative. 

"Our families depend on the sea for livelihood and not from any politician. Choosing what is good and making a new start exemplifies the choices I continue to make," he proudly stated.

"If we have three eats - breakfast, lunch, dinner - I believe we would be contented. But I have also seen hunger that meals cannot satisfy. If the government succeeds, we also succeed. Even the smallest efforts are never futile."

For his efforts as "a fisherman from Southern Philippines who has led a community in restoring their rich aquatic resources and their primary source of livelihood," Ka Dudoy was chosen as among this year's recipients of the 63rd Ramon Magsaysay Awards (RMA), bestowed by The Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF) and considered as Asia's premier prize and highest honor.

RMAF recently bestowed honors to four extraordinary individuals and a young media entity. 

Ka Dudoy dedicated this honor to his wife, Rebecca, and to their brood of eleven.


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