Motivated to Move

Nory Acebar shares her experience in urging her fellow community members to forge strengthened commitments to aquasilviculture.

Nory Acebar holds sargassum weed (brown algae) that have been entangled with other mangrove plants. The algae usually shows up during habagat (southwest monsoon). If not removed from the plants, sargassum causes the death of mangrove seedlings. Regular cleaning and monitoring are necessary to protect mangroves from this weed.

Nory Acebar, 54, grew up in Poblacion, Siruma. “Bata pa ako, mayroon na kaming mangrove-an gawa ng niyugan namin — yung sinasaka ng tatay ko. Sa baba po noon, may mangrove-an. Sa taas, may niyogan at palayan,” she shares. (When I was young, we already had a mangrove near our coconut groves — the one my father farms. Below the coconut groves were the mangroves. Above from the mangroves, there were coconut groves and rice fields.) She first managed mangroves as a local government worker in 2011, going through a series of training sessions with her colleagues. From 2014 to 2019, she was one of the foremost leaders to work with the Institute of Social Order for mangrove conservation, and later on, aquasilviculture.

The established set-up of aquasilviculture

As a community organizer and a fisherman’s wife, she takes pride in the wealth of their mangroves and mangrove-fisheries, from the massive king crabs to the bountiful fish. She regrets that many of their community members do not have a stable source of income, often depending on the scraps of the bay to survive their day-to-day. In her own little way, she invites the community members to join the organization’s projects for them to gain income. “Araw-araw naman pala halos o four times a week andoon kayo sa dagat, so sumama na kayo sa amin. May project kami na magkukuha tayo ng propagules — iyong mga bunga ng mangrove,” she convinces them. (Since you are at sea almost every day or four times a week, you should come and join us . We have a project where we will get propagules — the yields of mangrove.) She hopes that caring for the mangroves and mangrove-fisheries can become a sustainable livelihood for her community.

She also laments that there is a lack of love for the environment among the community members, who cut the mangroves for housing and cooking. She recounted the story of an old man who kept returning to take wood from the mangroves: “Pinakiusapan po namin siya na ganoon po ang ano ng mangrove — may batas po ng mangrove.” (We reasoned with him that there are existing laws protecting mangroves). After some time, the old man’s children and grandchildren helped remind him to let the mangroves be. Now, with the support of the youth in Poblacion, Nory nudges their community members to value their mangroves and mangrove-fisheries, and slowly fulfills her dream of having a community of environmental stewards.

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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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