As part of her weekly tradition, Vice President Leni Robredo visited two small communities in the far-flung island of Alabat, Quezon. She first met with a small fishing community in Perez, one of the municipalities in Alabat. The group of nine were proud to show Leni how they, with the help of the local government of Perez, were able to set up a fish landing site.
The fish landing site was of great help to the fishermen because it not only provided a centralized “bagsakan” for their daily catch, but also had a processing center. “Matagal ko na pinapangarap yung landing site,” said Hilario Rafaza who has been fishing in Perez for more than four decades.
Leni’s second stop was at the municipality of Alabat. There, she took a tour of one of the many coco sugar farms in the municipality. Coco sugar farmers attach bottles to collect the sap from the trees and collect the sap every four hours, to prevent the fermentation of the sap. The sap is then brought to a small processing center, where it is cooked in four different stations before it is the final product—refined coco sugar—is complete. The farm, which is 2 hectares, produces an average of 25 kilos of coco sugar a day.
Leni also met with the leaders of different agricultural organizations. One of them was Frederick Embile, a coco sugar farmer who took up the trade after working as a fisherman for a few years. Manong Frederick said that because of the income stability of coco sugar farming, he was able to buy a motorcycle which not only helped him but his family.
Leni expressed how inspired she felt after hearing these stories. “Pumunta ako para magbigay ng inspirasyon pero kayo yata, baliktad po yung nangyari. Kayo yung nagbigay ng inspirasyon sa akin,” she said. “Nabigyang inspirasyon dahil marahil kayo ang pinakamagandang halimbawa na pag maayos yung pamumuno, pag masipag yung mga tao, hindi imposible yung mga maabot na pangarap."