In continuing efforts to protect and develop the Barobbob Watershed, a vital water resource for the province of Nueva Vizcaya, multi-stakeholders came together in a bridging leadership dialogue, in time also with its third year run in the area.
Team Aldersgate College, Inc., through its Campus Ministry, began the occasion with a Thanksgiving Service which was followed by the sharing of experiences from residents and members of the Barobbob Watershed Occupants Association (BWOA).
The Executive Director of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), an attached agency under the Department of Agriculture, Hon. Kennedy F. Costales talked about the very bright future for the abaca (Manila hemp) industry as the world shifts from petroleum-based products such as plastic and synthetics to biodegradable raw materials such as abaca. The Philippines, according to the director, currently produces the strongest, longest, and most porous fiber harvested from abaca. With the assistance of PhilFIDA, the goal is for abaca farmers from Barobbob to have their own abaca processing facility to produce first-class abaca fibers and become entrepreneur-exporters themselves without having to rely on traders. The challenge for the farmers is to be able to meet the 100-hectare goal for cooperatives or registered groups. In line with this, representatives from financial institutions, President Therence Batulon of Banco Lagawe, and Manager Joel R. Cariño of the Coop Bank in Solano also presented the available services to the group.
Municipal Chief Executives, OIC-Mayor Solano, the Vice Mayor Hon. Ed Tiongson and Mayor of Bayombong, Hon. Tony Bagasao were also in attendance and expressed their full support of the goals of the activity.
The different academic institutions were also represented through the various research activities conducted at the Barobbob site such as costs-to-benefits analysis of upland farming conducted by students of Saint Mary’s University and feasibility studies on the viability of an abaca farm enterprise, rabbit-based enterprise and mulberry farm by students of the Nueva Vizcaya State Institute. Gillian Natividad, an 8th grader from the Philippine Science High School-Cagayan Valley Campus (PISAY-CVC), was also present to request permission to conduct a study under the Kids’ Innovation Camp 4.0 of PISAY-CVC aimed to raise awareness of the significance of the Barobbob Water Shed. This, was in turn, appreciated and fully supported by the barangay chief executives there present.
One of the highlights of the activity was the oath taking of the officers of the newly constituted Nueva Vizcaya Abaca Freefarmers Social Enterprise (NV-AFSE) where Aldersgate Chief Executive Rev. Dr. Micah Ryan B. Ramel, who also served as the moderator for the day, was unanimously elected as the pioneering president. Mr. Jojo Celestino, the Assistant Provincial Administrator, representing the provincial governor, Hon. Carlos M. Padilla, led the administration of the oath of office.
This was followed by the commitment signing of the Save our Watershed Pledge by officers and members of the NV-AFSE as well as other stakeholders.
Simultaneously, at Pawak Centro, parlor games and a gift giving activity were conducted for children at the site. Everyone then came together for a fellowship lunch. The activity concluded with a gift giving activity for the farmers and their families. All these were made possible through donations from local government units, Exemplars’ Academy, and Aldersgate College.