Striving to Sustain

Using her influence and knowledge, Luny Ebona fosters her community’s passion for mangrove conservation.

Self-portrait of Luny Eboña

Luny Eboña , 54, is a pillar of her community. With decades of experience and extensive relations, she is currently a member of her people’s organization (PO) in Matandang Siruma, the Agricultural Technician for Fisheries, and the right hand woman of the Municipal Agriculturist of Siruma. She has special regard for her PO’s work in aquasilviculture, recalling the initial challenge of getting the community involved: “Noong una — yung hindi pa nila nakikita yung kahalagahan ng aquasilviculture — inaalisan talaga nila ng mga mangrove sa loob.” (At first — when people have not seen the value of aquasilviculture — they actually had the mangroves uprooted.) After some time, the community learned to appreciate the mangrove-fisheries as environmental conservation areas, livelihood sites, and sources of food.

However, Luny struggles to keep up the efforts of her community to cultivate their mangrove-fisheries. “One year na ang project, pero nakikita na para bang hindi nakatatak sa kanilang isipan o puso na kahit na medyo mag-up and down, dapat continue pa rin tayo,” she describes. (The project has spanned one year, yet it seems as though community members have not ingrained in their minds or hears that even if our efforts go up and down a bit, we should still continue.) When typhoon Ulysses hit Matandang Siruma in November 2020, many community members returned to their old practices of cutting down mangrove trees. She speculates that the community fails to commit to the work, because in difficult times, it is easier to revert back to tradition.

To address this, she encourages her fellow PO members to remain hands-on, particularly in having personal conversations with those who are reluctant to continue the work. She thinks that there is wisdom in the face-to-face talks that open people’s eyes to see the value of aquasilviculture, so that their minds and hearts will also become open to continuing the work. Someday, she hopes to see a “sustainable” Siruma, born of new customs.

Story: Gabby Alcantara, RV Berjay, Ange Encomienda
Layout Design: Dom Pamatmat, Stephen Patacsil, Matt Reyes

Cover & Feature Photo: Luny Eboña

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A collaborative project of the Ateneo de Manila AB Sociology students, Ateneo Socio-Cultural Fieldschool, Institute of Social Order (ISO), and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology-Anthropological and Sociological Initiatives of the Ateneo (DSA-ASIA).

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