Fisher folk leader Ka Dodoy, a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards, once visited Camarines Sur to mentor the fishermen there.
Roberto “Ka Dodoy” Ballon was among the five recipients of the RMA, considered as Asia’s version of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ballon was recognized for his work in leading the fisherfolk community in Zamboanga Sibugay to restore their mangrove forests and other marine aquatic resources for their livelihood.
In her congratulatory message to him, Vice President Leni Robredo shared her experience working with him back in 2019.
“Congratulations, Ka Dodoy. 2021 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee,” Robredo said.
“Isang ordinaryong mangingisda na binago ang buhay ng mga kapwa niya mangingisda sa Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay dahil sa sakripisyo, pagod, at determinasyon,” she added.
Robredo also praised how Ballon managed to plant and restore 500 hectares of mangroves for their community.
“Binuhay nila muli ang katubigan na nagbibigay sa kanila ng kabuhayan sa pagtatanim ng 500 hectares of mangrove. Ngayon, buhay na buhay muli ang fisherfolk community nila at, selflessly, binabahagi nila ang kaalaman at aral sa iba pang mga communities,” she said.
Robredo later invited the fisherfolk leader to impart this knowledge to the fishermen in Robredo’s home province.
She also attached photos of Ballon’s visit in her post.
“Naimbita na namin siya sa OVP at sa lalawagan namin sa Camarines Sur noong 2019 para ma mentor niya yung mga mangingisda na tinutulungan namin,” Robredo said.
Officials of the Manila-based Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) described Ballon’s heroism as a “shining example of how everyday acts of heroism can truly be extraordinary and transformative.”
“The RMAF board of trustees recognizes his inspiring determination in leading his fellow fisherfolk to revive a dying fishing industry by creating a sustainable marine environment for this generation and generations to come, and his shining example of how everyday acts of heroism can truly be extraordinary and transformative,” read their message on the RMAF website.
RMAF also recognized the organization that Ballon and other fishermen launched in 1986 called the Kapunungan sa Gamay nga Mangingisda sa Concepcion (KGMC), which translates to Association of Small Fishermen of Concepcion.
The KGMC focused on mangrove reforestation to help revive and restore the fishing industry in their hometown.
With government support and their perseverance, the group managed to improve fish catch from 1.5 kilograms per eight hours of fishing trip to 7 kg per three to five hours of fishing.
KGMC now has a membership of 320 households.
Aside from Ballon, other RMAF winners this year are:
- Muhammad Amjad Saqib in Pakistan – Founder of one of the largest microfinance institutions in Pakistan
- Firdausi Qadri in Bangladesh – Bangladeshi scientist who was instrumental in discovering vaccines
- Steven Muncy – Humanitarian who has been helping refugees of Southeast Asia
- WatchDoc in Indonesia – an Indonesian media group that highlight underreported issues in their country
In 2019, acclaimed Filipino musician Ryan Cayabyab was also the lone Filipino recipient of the RMA for his immense contribution in Filipino music.