Bannering the theme “Ako Bilang Lakas ng Pagbabago sa Kagubatan at Pamayanan Ko,” the three-day event was attended by more than 400 delegates composed of FMP-partner PO leaders, local government unit representatives, regional and provincial DENR officials, and project field implementers from four different regions (Cordillera Autonomous Region, Region 2, Region 3, and Region 6).
The summit showcased inspiring stories from five successful FMP’s PO partners. The stories highlighted their success, challenges, and good practices in implementing and achieving FMP targets and accomplishments. Community leaders pointed out FMP’s contribution to the enhancement of the quality of life in participating communities. The storytelling presenters stressed how the project had augmented their source of livelihood, primarily farming, the same way that it had made them feel esteemed in supporting the government’s aspiration to maintain the integrity of the country’s forested areas.
One of the PO presenters, a leader of an all-women’s organization in Nueva Ecija, highlighted how the Project had empowered women in their community by enabling them to lead site development and other project activities successfully, at the same time fulfilling their usual familial roles in the household.
Apart from the storytelling presentations, discussions were also made on the climate outlook for the next six months, microenterprise assistance and services, enhancing product packaging, and establishing cooperatives – things that could help the POs in planning and implementing their activities. Updates on the status of agro-support facilities and institutional development components of the project were reported as well.
Forester Nonito Tamayo, Director of Forest Management Bureau and Project Director of FMP highlighted the significant milestones and accomplishments of the project. He noted how FMP, since its inception, had contributed to sustaining the country’s forest cover. The outlook for the project in the next four years or before it ends is bright notwithstanding the challenge to accomplish site development targets efficiently in the remaining areas. It is the desire of the project to empower POs to take part in their respective local watershed management councils as a strategy for sustainability.
Ms. Ayumu Ohsima, Senior Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency – Philippines, expressed her gratitude and encouragement to everyone in attendance. In return, PO members relished her presence, and especially after her visits to their communities during site validation activities earlier.
Forester Lourdes Wagan, Director of the Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Service, spelled out the thrust of the Department not only to implement projects that protect the environment but also to make sure that people’s organizations in forested areas are engaged as partners in these projects.
Forester Ricardo Calderon, Assistant Secretary for Staff Bureau, emphasized that collaboration would make the project even more successful. He encouraged the POs to think creatively in improving their products. Notably, almost 25% of the participating POs already have operational social enterprises, which involve value adding, trading, and product development, among others. Some POs exhibited these products during the event. (FMP/ Paolo G. Balderia)