Last August 8 to 9, 2012, the Second Provincial Seaweeds Conference, with the theme “VCD in Seaweeds… Continuing Conversations on Framework,” was held at the Gymnatorium of the University of Eastern Philippines. The event was organized by Sentro ha Pagpauswag ha Panginabuhi, Inc. (SPPI) and the lead convener Center for Empowerment and Resource Development (CERD), with the aid of the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), DISOP and the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE).
Over 250 individuals attended the conference. Members of people’s organizations around Northern Samar from the municipalities of San Vicente, San Antonio, Capul, Biri, Lavezares, Rosario, San Jose, Mondragon, and Laoang attended the conference. Seaweed farmers from other provinces were also present. Non-government organizations, municipal agriculturists, agricultural technologists, the Philippine National Police and local government units, and members of the private sector and the academe also participated in the conference.
Presentations from different stakeholders were held. Ms. Joelyn Biag, executive director of SPPI, introduced the Samar Island Seaweeds Value Chain Network (Seaweeds Net) to the participants. A talk on Value Chain Development was given by Mr. Boy Abelgas. Mr. Maximo Ricohermoso, the CEO of MCPI and president of the Seaweeds Industry Association of the Philippines, gave a presentation on the Current and Emerging Trends in the Seaweeds Industry. Dr. Ronelie Salvador, chief resource scientist of the University of Eastern Philippines, tackled the subject on Seaweed Protocols and Innovations. Atty. Ronnan Christian Eposar discussed the Philippine Environmental Laws. Dir. Pepe Lutao, the Provincial Fishery Director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), gave a presentation on the Philippine Fisheries Code (RA 8550). Expanded Seaweeds Production Projects was presented by Mr. Gil Adora, Assistant Director for Technical Services.
Government officials present gave their words of support to the participants. These were Hon. Madeleine Ong (Mayor of Laoang), Hon. Quintin Saludaga (Mayor of Lavezares), Hon. Jaime Garcia (Mayor of Biri), Gov. Paul Daza, and Cong. Emil Ong of the 2nd District of Northern Samar. Representatives from the Philippine National Police, headed by Northern Samar Senior Superintendent Isaias Tonog, also addressed the concerns of the participants.
A workshop was conducted which helped the farmers identify their concerns on the different areas of seaweed production. An open forum was held, with the panel members consisting of the different stakeholders. The open forum served as a venue for the participants to articulate their concerns and be heard, and for them to get immediate response from those concerned.
A contest, Search for the Most Innovative Farmer, was also held. The contestants represented the following barangays: Brgy. San Luis (Capul Island), Brgy. Barobaybay (Lavezares), Brgy. Pilar (San Antonio Island),Biri, Brgy. Jubang (Capul Island), Brgy. Landusan (Capul Island). The judges were Mr. Arnel Astillero (ICCO), Ms. Kathleen Cordero (DISOP), Ms. Mymy Tabao (FPE) and Dir. Pepe Lutao (BFAR). Third place was awarded to the representative of Brgy. Landusan, Capul Island. The second place was awarded to the representative of Biri, and the first place was given to the representative of Brgy. Pilar, San Antonio Island.
Following the contest were the presentations given by ICCO, FPE, and DISOP. With these, the participants were oriented on the organizations and their programs. The conference ended with the Solidarity Night.