Ramon Magsaysay-winning fisher to address UPV Class of 2024

Roberto “Ka Dodoy” Ballon, the esteemed 2021 Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning fisher, will address the graduating class of the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) on July 9, 2024, at the UPV Covered Court, Miagao campus.

Ballon, hailing from Kabasalan town in Zamboanga Sibugay, is celebrated for his exemplary service to the people and transformative leadership in his coastal community.

Since 1986, he has led efforts to preserve and restore the coastal environment through the Kapunungan sa Gagmay’ng Mangingisda sa Concepcion (KGMC), or Association of Small Fisherfolk of Concepcion.

The organization initially focused on mangrove reforestation to combat the adverse effects of rampant fishpond conversion and the abandonment of these fishponds, which had devastated mangrove forests.

Despite starting with 31 members and dwindling to just three due to limited support and minimal returns, Ballon’s relentless dedication has grown KGMC to 320 households.

KGMC’s success has garnered support from government and development institutions, enhancing the community’s food production and livelihood opportunities.

The group’s initiatives have been replicated in other towns in Zamboanga Sibugay and beyond, transforming Kabasalan into the seafood capital of the province and a budding ecotourism destination.

Ballon’s decades-long efforts to restore and manage mangrove cover and protect coastal resources earned him the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2021, Asia’s premier prize and highest honor. His work has inspired many and brought significant improvements to his community’s sustainability and economic vitality.

“I am amazed at how the environment is preserved in Oriental Mindoro. I also learned that the local government has the capacity to include environmental education in their local school curriculum, and I will pursue this back in my municipality,” said Ricky Dela Cruz, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council Municipal Representative of Carles, Iloilo, reflecting the broader impact of Ballon’s work.

Ballon’s address at the UPV Commencement Exercises underscores the university’s commitment to community service and environmental stewardship, providing a powerful example for the graduates as they embark on their future endeavors. (Mr. Carlson Alelis, IPO)


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