Rocky Roleda and his mother, Maricel

27 October 2016


 October 27, 2016


By Che Ingles

Che InglesRomblon has a very special place in my heart.

Several years ago, when I was still working as a Writer/Segment Producer in GMA, we produced a feature on Sibuyan and stayed there for over a week.

It’s been close to four years since I left GMA, and it’s only in June this year that I got to go back to beloved Romblon, this time in the municipality of Sta. Maria. Through the help of so many generous people here and abroad, and of course in partnership with the local organisation, Banwa Ko Palangga Ko, we were able to raise funds for school supplies for 300 children.

After the successful BKPK/Project 100-100-100 run in Sta. Maria, we then set out to raise funds to bring Yellow Boats to the needy fishermen there.

I have long been aware of the power of images, and how they could be potent tools to bring help where it is needed. In 2015, I produced several short video documentaries to help the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation raise money to build boats for the families of poor fishermen in Bataan.

You know how many Yellow Boats were turned over in Bagac, Bataan last year? 110.

Yep, you read that right: ONE HUNDRED TEN boats.

This year, we aim to do the same in Romblon, using the same strategy: get to know the people there, share their stories to the world, get them to contribute to the cause.

So in July, armed only with my iPhone, I went back to Sta. Maria, Romblon and documented the stories of three families.

The people in these photos are Rocky Roleda and his mother, Maricel. That shabby shanty is where they used to live.

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Due to poverty, Rocky was not able to finish school. Maricel’s husband passed away when the kids were still little, so Rocky, being the eldest, had no choice but to quit school so he can work and help his mother and siblings.

Rocky does all sorts of odd jobs. He knows how to fish, but did not own a boat. To eke out a living, he would rent boats and share the proceeds of his catch with the boat owners. Maliit na nga lang ang kita nya, hahatiin pa sa may-ari ng bangka.

He also does arrow fishing–but without proper gear. You know what he uses as fins? FLATTENED PVC PIPES. His goggles? A makeshift pair, made out of old tire rubber, some wood, and the bottom of an old drinking glass (sa Tagalog: Pwet ng baso! Yan ang salamin ng goggles nya)

His mother, Maricel, uneducated like her son, earns money by making and selling walis ting-ting.

Poor as they are, the resilient mother-and-son tandem is able to keep the smaller children in school. They know that without education, these kids have no shot at a bright future.

I uploaded the video of Rocky and Maricel’s story soon as I finished shooting it. The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and BKPK got to work raising funds for the Sta. Maria fishermen. And guess what?

Come September, a new Yellow Boat was turned over to Rocky and his family! Now Rocky can fish, keep all his earnings, and secure formal education for his brother and sister.

15 boats were turned over to the fishermen of Sta. Maria last September. But many more need our help. The goal is to bring another batch of 100 boats by December–and we pray that you could help us achieve this!

To date, there are already funds to build 30 boats and we are gunning for 70 more before the year ends.

Would YOU be a Hope Paddler–buy a boat and give a spark of hope to one family? Would you help us in this effort to do our share in ending the cycle of poverty? If your answer is YES and you would like to donate to our cause, please do visit the website:

Sa lahat po ng mga ROMBLOMANON, paki-share ito para marami tayong ma-engganyong tumulong sa mga kababayan ninyo. Pasayahin natin ang pasko ng mga taga-Sta. Maria!

Thank you very much in advance, HOPE PADDLERS! God bless you all!

PS – To see a video of Rocky and his mother, click here!

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