Of Lifelong Leadership

Jinky Flores’s inspiring journey: From a young girl in a fisherfolk family to Barangay Official and President of their Local PO

Jinky, 47, has been an environmental welfare advocate since she was a young girl from a fisherfolk family in Penitan, Siruma. Now, to many, the tale of how she rose to become a barangay official and the president of their local people’s organization (PO), Samahan ng Mangingisda ng Penitan, is an inspiration to many of her peers and the youth in the barangay. With her motto “from ridge to reef ang dapat iprotect,” (protection should cover areas from ridge to reef) she motivates her community to make a difference through mangrove conservation and aquasilviculture.

Although many actors, young and old, have become involved in and have invested in these efforts, Jinky does not lose sight of the fishpond owners and mangrove cutters who are still unaware of or resistant to the call to environmental protection. She tells an anecdote about the violence they encountered in defense of their natural resources: “One time pumunta kami sa pumuputol… Ayun, galit na galit sa amin, minsan nga gusto pa kaming barilin. Naranasan namin yung problemang ganon, kasi ayaw nilang may nagsisita sa kanila.” (One time, we went to those who cut the mangroves. They got so mad that they wanted to shoot us. We experience those problems because they don’t want anyone reprimanding them.)

But she does not give up, seeing the continued abandonment of fishponds and depletion of mangroves. She believes that it takes an entire community to change their fate. “Kaya kahit nagkaka-edad na kami, hindi kami tumitigil, para ipamulat sa tao, ipa-share sa tao, kung ano ang kabutihan ng mangrove area.” (Even while we get old, we will not stop. To show people, to share with people the goodness of the mangrove area.) With her term as a barangay official ending soon, she continues to spread awareness and encourage other barangays to participate in their projects. She hopes to leave a legacy that remembers the story of her generation and encourages future generations to continue to fight for the environment.

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