Nilo Abuyan: From Skepticism to Lifelong Partnership

Man talking in front of an audience

“…The partnership that started sour became [one of] the most meaningful and longest ISO-LGU partnerships…”

This was how Emmeline Ceas, former ISO Associate Director recalls Petronilo Abuyan, or Sir Nilo to most people. He also gave the impression of being feisty and strict, as recalled by ISO Executive Director Dr. Liza Lim. One of their first encounters with Sir Nilo was the initial dialogues that that the ISO had set up between fisherfolk leaders and the Municipal Agriculturists of the municipalities of Northern Lamon Bay (NLB). At that time, the ISO was working on the formation of the Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council of the area.  Mr. Abuyan was the Municipal Agriculturist of Mauban, Quezon and the President of the Association of Municipal Agricultural Officers (MAO) in Quezon. In that event, he shared his frustrations about the long years of pursuing a dialogue between the LGU and the fisherfolks in their locality. But he also took pride in the accomplishments of the Municipal Agricultural Office in Mauban on fisheries.

Despite the first impressions, Sir Nilo became one of the most inspiring and dedicated leaders that worked towards the sustainable management of fisheries in Northern Lamon Bay (NLB). In his time of working with the ISO, he has been a friend, a devoted champion, and a loving father.

He never said no to the request of the then Northern Lamon Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council to sponsor their baywide meetings, especially when they had to talk about fishery law enforcement and fishery and coastal resource assessments. He was also always proud of what the fishers’ organizations in their municipality had accomplished and would provide them incentives to do better.

In so many occasions, Sir Nilo has also acted as mediator among the members of the IFARMC when there are burning tensions which threaten to break the unity of the council. He often reminded them that their strength lies on their unity. He was instrumental in ensuring that Municipal Agriculturists and local government units rolled up their sleeves and worked together towards the sustainable use of marine resources and eradication of illegal fishing in the NLB. Nilo will be remembered as a man of good deeds, not only by the NGOs he has worked with, but also by the local community and law enforcement bodies.

Former ISO Program Manager Ging Faustino considers him, not only as a friend, but as a father. She will always remember him as a kind, generous, and loving person, not only to her but also to the whole ISO NLB Team. His passing made her recall his hearty laughter and the delicious food that he used to cook for them.

Indeed, Sir Nilo’s strong reservation towards NGOs that turned into lifelong friendship, partnership, and service to marine resource management has made its mark in the hearts of those who knew and have worked with him. You will always be remembered, Sir Nilo. Together with fellow fisheries champions, Mr. Rico Aumentado and Mrs. Linda Dacillo, who have also found peace with our creator, may you pray for us in our fight for grassroots empowerment and sustainable management of marine resources.

Maraming salamat po!

**This tribute post is derived from the compiled messages of Dr. Liza Lim, Ms. Emmeline Ceas, Ms. Ging Faustino, and Ms. Fe Combalicer.

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