A youth leader is targeting to have built with his group about 5,000 boats for schoolchildren and fishermen by 2020.
Over 4,000 boats have already been built for children who had to swim and wade through sea to go to school and for fishermen who damaged or lost their boats to natural disasters, according to Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (YBHF) Inc. Vice President and Ambassador Jay Michael O. Jaboneta.
The group is poised to continue building more boats as they see more people near waters need a vessel to keep their hope in life afloat and their dream from sinking.
Jaboneta said that would be a fitting achievement for YBHF’s 10th anniversary next year.
He explained that YBHF’s project has two components today: boats for school children and boats for fishermen.
THE group originally constructed boats to help children cross waters from their community to school yet stay dry and safe, he said. But they later saw their parents’ livelihood impacts the kids’ education.
“A lot of them say that if they don’t have a livelihood, they won’t be able to send their kids to school.”
But even the boats specifically donated for schoolchildren are used by their parents to catch fish after the kids are sent to school, Jaboneta said.
“Sometimes, the boats are used by our partners in the area, like the barangay council and the school itself,” he said.
The boats also sometime serve as ambulance.
According to Jaboneta, the YBHF builds and donates three kinds of boats: the self-paddled, the motorized and a big boat that costs P200,000.
For recipients who have to cross a bumpy sea, engine-driven boats are built, Jaboneta explained. Self-paddled boats are constructed for recipients who cross a creek or a river and when the number of recipients is only about five, he added.
YBHF has also built and donated five big boats for their recipients in Caramoan, Camarines Sur. Jaboneta said these boats do not transport schoolchildren to and from the school but alternative learning teachers to the communities off the mainland.
The local hall in the island communities in Caramoan serves as a classroom for the alternative learning program, he said. At times, the students are taught on the shore. The boats, which are called Bangkarunungan, also carry the learning materials.
“Most of our volunteers in the area are teachers,” he said.
Some of their recipients had to swim, wade, walk on sandbars and swim again to get to the school, Jaboneta said. Others had to swim from shore to shore to attend the class, like their recipients in Masbate. And some had to cross rivers.
“We customize the boat according to the need of a particular community,” he said.
THE impact of Typhoon Pablo (international code name Bopha), which struck southern Philippines in 2012, on the livelihood of fishermen steered the group to start building boats for fishermen.
YBHF President Anton Mari Lim visited Davao Oriental for a relief mission by another volunteer group after the typhoon hit the area.
Knowing the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation was building and donating boats, local fishermen asked for replacements to their damaged and lost boats, Jaboneta said.
“Initially, we actually said no because our boats are for students only,” Jaboneta said.
But the fishermen insisted that if they do not have livelihood they could not send their kids to school, he added. Jaboneta acquiesced.
After Pablo came Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) and the YBHF’s biggest project. Over a thousand boats were built and donated to the survivors in Leyte, Samar and Cebu.
“More than 50 percent of the people who helped the foundation are individual donors,” he said. “The other components are the partners and corporations.”
Some of the donors are entrepreneurs, families and overseas Filipino workers, he added.
The YBHF works with the school, barangay officials and other organizations in a particular community in identifying recipients who most deserve the boats, Jaboneta explained.
JABONETA, who is from Cotabato City, never thought he would be part of a group that would build thousands of boats for indigent schoolchildren and fishermen across the country.
It all started when he posted a status on social media on October 30, 2010, in response to the request of children in stilt houses in sitio Layag-Layag off the shore of Zamboanga City. The post asked for funds to build a boat for the children.
“I posted it when I heard the story,” he said. “When it went viral we were able to raise the funds.”
Friends and people in his networks responded to his call, Jaboneta said, raising an amount enough to construct one.
That boat transported some 20 children in the stilt community to school and back dry and safe.
The initiative led Jaboneta to help organize YBHF in 2010. It also earned him recognition as one of the 7 Modern-Day Pinoy Heroes in 2011.
AFTER the boat for children in Zamboanga was turned over, people informed Jaboneta and his group that there were children in Masbate and Negros who were swimming their way to school.
Nine years after the Zamboanga project, the group’s recipients spread across the country.
Currently, the YBHF is present in 200 communities in the Philippines. It also has been able to secure funding from charitable individuals and organizations in the country and abroad.
“When we get funding, it goes directly to our projects,” Jaboneta said adding that about 80 percent of the projects of YBHF are building boats.
The boats are yellow in color since, like school buses and other vehicles that take students to school, they are water school transportation, he explained. The group also found out as they researched that yellow is the color of hope.
“We also realized that yellow really stands out against the deep blue sea,” Jaboneta said.
Yellow was also chosen by the group as the color of the boats since Zamboanga has security issues, he pointed out. The group wished to send a message of caution, by painting the boats in yellow, that the passengers are students.
The YBHF has also built and donated about 20 boats for a community in Zamboanga City as their means of livelihood, ferrying tourists to the mangrove reserve and the pink beach in Santa Cruz Island.
Known as “Yellow Boat Adventure,” the livelihood program formally started to be in service to more visitors to the said ecotourism spots in 2018, Jaboneta said.
Aside from building boats, the YBHF has also built classrooms for public schools in Masbate, Samar, Zamboanga and Cotabato.
The group currently has 100 active volunteers, some of who met each other for the first time at YBHF’s summit last June.
It was during this summit, the first for YBHF, where Jaboneta said they culled best practices and learned about project management and fund-raising methods.
He believes the summit also affirmed YBHF’s origins: volunteerism.
“We are all doing this as a volunteer mission,” Jaboneta said.