As a fisherman, Enciso used to catch fish using a primitive net; scanty, old fishing gear; and a middling little boat. "We make the most of what we have when we venture out to sea," he said.

"Almost all of us, fishermen, in this village still use the typical nets. Our sea is rich, but our fishing gears are poor. That is why we welcome any development. We want to increase our catch," Francisco added.

Francisco, one of 45 fishermen in Northern Samar who have been assisted by the DOLE, has seen things change for the better.

On the first week of July, he and his fellow fishermen attended a ceremony at the municipal hall of San Antonio where he met, for the first time, Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office No. 8 Regional Director Exequiel Sarcauga.

Sarcauga was there to turn over to the fishermen P596,250 in grant assistance for their Lagarity Fishing Project, a fishing livelihood project seen to stabilize and increase the income of the 45 fisherfolk beneficiaries.

"I share the hope that this livelihood assistance will truly help each one of you start a new chapter and make San Antonio's fishing industry flourishing in the coming months," Sarcauga told the fisherfolk in his pep talk.

For San Antonio's residents, the sea has been--and will be--their main source of sustenance. Heavily dependent on the sea, the residents of the fifth class municipality eagerly awaited assistance for their fishing, especially at these hard times after the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda.

The grant was in the form of nine sets of sturdy, motorized fishing boats, fishing nets, and other fishing gear. The DOLE grouped the 45 fishermen into nine groups with five members each and each group received a set of the livelihood grant assistance.

"We at the Department of Labor and Employment are happy to present to you this livelihood assistance. However, we entreat you to use this grant responsibly. It is our hope that these fishing boats will really help you increase your yield, so that the cost of fish in San Antonio will be cheaper for the residents. In a year's time, we hope to come back and personally see how you have nurtured your livelihood," Sarcauga intoned.

Francisco and his fellow fishermen were profuse with thanks to the DOLE. "This is, indeed, a boon to our livelihood as fishermen," they said.

So was San Antonio Mayor Rudy Baguiso and his Vice Mayor Flordeliza Esquilon. The two officials also expressed their gratitude to the DOLE for bringing in the assistance 'within reach' of the disadvantaged workers in the far-flung municipality.

"In my years as municipal mayor of San Antonio, this is the first time that a DOLE regional director will come to deliver assistance. Never in my imagination did it occur that a place as isolated and as far as ours could be reached by the DOLE. Thank you to Director Sarcauga and his Field Office Head, Patria Bigcas, for bringing this good tidings to our municipality," Mayor Baguiso said, who promised to monitor the fishing project for three (3) years.

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