Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cong. Lord Allan Velasco supports Marinduque Coco Sugar Industry

Congressman Lord Allan Velasco leads a throng of students, teachers and officials of Marinduque State College (MSC) and Torrijos Poblacion School of Arts and Trades (TPSAT) in a coconut tree-planting project on the hills of Malibago, Torrijos.

The activity is part of a project being implemented by the Marinduque Diocesan Development Cooperative in connection with Marinduque's coco sugar industry. From the dwindling production of tuba, coconut toddy for income, farmers are now slowly shifting to coco sugar production using the same toddy. The growing demand for coco sugar has been identified as a better community enterprise for coconut farmers. Many coconut farmers from a few towns (Buenavista, Sta. Cruz), who have shifted to coco sugar production are now earning three times more than what they used to earn from the age-old practice of tuba gathering. 
The destructive 2006 super-typhoon Reming, however, wiped out many coconut trees and the remaining coconut trees standing, a huge number of which is more than 50 years old, have failed to recover. Those that have recovered continue to yield lesser and lesser copra, the price per kilo of which has plummeted compared to pre-Reming prices.

Speeding up rehabilitation of the coconut industry could only be addressed by replanting trees, a vital concern where efforts exerted by farmers, however, had been lukewarm so far in general. Cong. Velasco is shown here transplanting a coconut seedling. Malindig Volcano is seen in the background.

LAV scholar quietly plants his coconut palm seedling.

Throng of students, teachers, MSC and TPSAT officials troop to the Malibago Hills for the transplanting of coconut seedlings.

The Marinduque Diocesan Development Cooperative initiated the Coconut Tree Plantation project with funding support from Velasco’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). In his brief talk during the launching that was proceeded by the tree-planting activity, MDDC chair and DTI provincial director, Carlito Fabalena presented some facts about the coco sugar industry in this island-province and the importance of planting new hybrid coconuts. 

Memorandum of Agreement signed between Velasco and the Marinduque Diocesan Development Cooperative.

Fabalena (pointing), stressed the need to promote awareness on the new industry and conveyed his appreciation on the involvement of the Leaders and Achievers of Velasco (LAV), program grantees from two Torrijos schools, Marinduque State College (College of Agriculture) and Torrijos Poblacion School of Arts and Trades.

Cheque for Php 300,000.00 for the MDDC Farm Project in Brgy. Malibago is turned over by Congressman Velasco to MDDC. 

MSC President Romulo H. Malvar (at center with hat), during the brief program also shared efforts exerted by the state college in helping alleviate poverty in Marinduque through the continued development of projects in certain areas in partnership with other institutions and NGOs. 
Velasco's environmental call.

Cong. Velasco enjoined all participants to be active stewards of the environment and stressed the importance of their individual engagement in pro-environmental activities.  He conveyed his personal commitment to environmental protection and preservation. He also shared his personal experience in discovering an underwater cliff in Torrijos close to his beach house five years ago that made his commitment stronger. The spot teemed with life but was threatened by destruction through dynamite fishing, he said. He then made a small plea to the authorities and fishermen concerned to help protect that marine area and was heeded.  

Today, that underwater spot, his friends fondly it call then and now ‘Congressman’s Canyon’, attracted an incredible number of species of fish that one could ever imagine, he said, including many giant angel fishes that were not seen there before. 

LAV puts topsoil on transplanted coconut seedling.

Velasco with members and officers of the Marinduque Diocesan Development Cooperative.
Connecting with nature.

Velasco said that protection of land, coastal areas and Marinduque’s marine environment should continue to be nurtured and instilled by the young, especially among the educational grantees under the LAV program. They could start by engaging in activities that allow them to connect with nature and conduct their own explorations in their one and only island-province, he said. ‘I could also teach you how to scuba-dive!’, he said half in jest.

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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