The Words of the Zablan Family
Pangasinan’s pride, the Asian Fisheries Academy (AFA) is now home to Mindanao fisher folks through the Harvest of Hope Project, a partnership between the Global Peace Festival Foundation (GPFF) and the National Fisheries Research and Development (NFRDI). Students came all the way from Cotabato, Iligan, Surigao Del Sur, Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental to learn AFA’s advanced technology in aquaculture under Dr. Westly Rosario, Interim Executive Director of NFRDI. On September 3, 2009, the first batch of 28 students graduated from the 10-day training course on aquaculture technology. They received practical trainings on both traditional and modern aquaculture technology in oyster, sea urchin, sea cucumber, tilapia, white shrimp, and catfish production. Also, students learned important techniques on fish processing such as deboning, smoking, bottling and canning of fish like popular Bonuan Bangus.
In order to ensure students’ capacity and sustainability in venturing into this kind of business, they were taught basic entrepreneurship and given lectures on Aquaculture Economics from record keeping to distribution and marketing. On-site visitations of fish farms and processing plants were also included as well as a trip to Baguio City. A daily program on peace education was also given by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) at the end of the day to motivate deeper commitment to alleviate poverty brought by instability in Mindanao.
At the closing program, Congressman Jose De Venecia, Jr. and his wife Mrs. Gina De Venecia, NFRDI Officer-In-Charge Ms. Cordelia Nepales, GPF Executive Director Mr. Aya Goto, UPF Philippines Executive Director Dr. Michael Zablan came to impart their message of congratulations and encouragement to help building peace in Mindanao.
De Venecia told in his speech that it is for the first time that the fisheries complex trains Muslim and Christian students from Mindanao to study and learn aquaculture. He expects that in effect, the project can boost creation of self-reliant projects among fisher folks in Mindanao with Pangasinan’s aquaculture education.
Mr. Aya Goto challenged all the participants to become vanguards of Mindanao peace-building by helping to counter poverty through the propagation of fisheries technology they learned throughout the workshop.
The batch 1 students gave their presentation to show their gratitude to the project constituents. Representative students from each province also shared their reflection. Ms. Dulce B. Cuenca of Misamis Oriental said, “Lecturers and educators are knowledgeable and very much willing to share their expertise to us. We were given a VIP treatment.”
Another student from Cotabato, Mr. JR S. Losaria III, said that he was now equipped with the latest aquaculture technology which he can apply in his hometown and expressed that it was surely one way to build peace.
A student from Dipolog, Zamboanga de Norte, Ronilo G. Fundador said that no words could express his gratitude, and he was very excited to share his newly gained knowledge with his community.