Letecia “Nang Letty” Nepa, 54, used to cut off branches from trees in Sitio Dulhogan, barangay Buhisan, Cebu City. She sold the wood she gathered to those who used these as firewood or to make coal, and every day earned at least P100, which she spent mostly on food. Her means of livelihood did not help the island that was reeling from massive deforestation, but the Dulhogan People’s Association gave her a brand new start.
The organization entered into a partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress to “Save the Buhisan Watershed.”
“PBSP taught us alternative means of livelihood that will not destroy the environment such as tending native tree seedlings and vermi composting,” Nang Letty told delegates to the PBSP’s 23rd Visayas Annual Membership Meeting at the Casino Espanol in March2011. “It’s not easy to plant trees and ensure that they really grow,” she said in Cebuano. “We know because we are the one taking care of the trees now. I realized that our forest give several benefits–fresh air, protection from landslides, only if we don’t destroy them.”
With the shift from woodcutting and gathering to growing trees and generating compost, Nang Letty began earning P1,000 a day.
As a member of the Dulhogan People’s Association, Nang Letty works with PBSP and agencies such as the Metropolitan Cebu Water District, Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water and the city government to ensure that Cebu is provided with clean and fresh water.
The Dulhogan People’s Association is also one of the 13 organizations mobilized to raise native trees for the Visayan Electric Company’s reforestation park in the watershed.
The Buhisan Watershed covers 630 hectares of the 29,000-hectare Central Cebu Protected Landscape and is a protected area. Within the Buhisan Watershed is the dam that contributes 4 percent of the 165,000 cubic meters of water that MCWD produces per day.
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