Gov't gives boats to Zambales fisherfolk

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Masinloc, Zambales (CNN Philippines) — When CNN Philippines first met fisherman Jun Caranay on a stormy day in July, he and his wife Susan were worrying about their two sons, who went out fishing along the coast of Masinloc, Zambales despite bad weather.

A long day at sea back then yielded only a catch of about 3 kilograms of fish. It was all the young men could manage with their small wooden boats. Jun made just one wish then: "Gusto ko sanang makapundar ng parang sariling pangitaan ba. Bangka. Kaso wala po, kapok sa budget po."

[Translation: I want to have my own fishing boat but I don't have the money to buy one.]

About a month later, his wish came true — the Department of Agriculture (DA) gave 100 fishing boats free of charge to Masinloc fishermen on Wednesday. Two fishermen will share one boat — therefore, 200 will benefit from the grant.

"Ito po… makakapunta sa malayo. Hindi katulad ng de-sagwan, diyan lang po sa tabi-tabi. Ito po makaabot sa malayo," Jun said on Wednesday.

[Translation: This boat can reach further out to sea unlike those with just paddles.]

He shares his boat with his son Jomari, who has three little children. "Iyong huli, malalaki sa laot — tsaka mabigat. Iyong sa tabi, maliliit lang," Jomari explained.

[Translation: The catch is larger and heavier in the high seas. Fish caught along the shore are small.]

According to Jun, the new boat can haul in up to 50 kilograms of fish — that's still a far cry from the 30 tonnes that commercial fishermen used to catch in the Scarborough Shoal.

"Well, this has nothing to do with the issue sa [regarding] Scarborough Shoal. This is part of our national program to really reach out to the poorest of the poor in this country," Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said.

The DA plans to give out a total of 1,000 boats in Zambales. Each costs ₱80,000, which is quite a steep amount for underprivileged fishermen like Jun.

The boats are motorized and made of fiber glass. They are sturdy enough to make the trip to Scarborough Shoal. But because China occupies it, Zambaleño fishermen will have to fish somewhere else for now.

But Jun said it's alright — with his new boat, he might earn enough money to quit his job as a hired hand for a commercial fishing company.

"Kapag maganda na po ito, baka bibitawan ko na po iyon (current job)."

[Translation: If it turns out good, I will resign from that job.]