Raymundo C. Agaton, Jr. or DONDON as PRRM colleagues and partners know him, has been progressively engaged in sustainable and rural development work for the past 3 decades. In fact, he has and still is involved in the design, implementation and management of PRRM sustainable area development programs, projects and activities in Camiguin and in Eastern Samar.
Since 1998, Dondon helped transform the development contour and context of the island province of Camiguin in Mindanao. He was actively engaged in upland forestry development and management particularly in the piloting of a community-based forestry project in Brgy. Alga. Trees now are ready for harvest for lumber but the community decided to let the trees stand as the contribution to expanding the island’s carbon sink. Striking the balance between continuing fishing activity of artisanal and municipal fishers and the urgent need to rehabilitate Camiguin’s marine and coastal waters is a challenge. With the leadership and management of Dondon, and the active participation of coastal communities, much of the island’s municipal waters are dotted with marine/fish sanctuaries, mangrove forests through the establishment of new and expansion of existing mangroves. This is made possible through the organizing of bantay-dagat in each covered coastal village. The same is true in providing fishers with diversified, on-/off-resource income opportunities as economic resiliency measures.
Dondon had not only shared his development expertise in Camiguin but also in other parts of mainland Mindanao. In various capacities, he was engaged in mainstreaming eco-development tourism in Siargao Island, in piloting renewable energy projects in Central Mindanao, in engaging various stakeholders in the peace-building efforts, in disaster response-preparedness in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City during Supertyphoon Sendong. With the impending passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in whatever form, Dondon’s presence and network in Mindanao is a competitive advantage for PRRM as it takes on more challenging roles as a development player in southern Philippines.
Worth mentioning is Dondon’s role in keeping alive PRRM’s development work in Eastern Samar. Initially funded by long-term partner People to People Aid of Japan (P2) and DISOP-Philippines, PRRM implemented a short-term economic recovery project for small fishers in the towns of Balangiga, Giporlos and Quinapondan, part of Supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Highway. Much work has to be done to build back better the landscape of what was once Eastern Samar. Patience and project development paid off with the recent partnership project with Oxfam to provide livelihood opportunities to seaweed farmers in Eastern Samar.
Dondon started working in PRRM in 1989 as community organizer that went to the poorest of farmers in the far flung villages of Nueva Ecija during PRRM’s revival years under then PRRM President Horacio R. Morales, Jr. at the helm. Before that, he was an active student leader-activist in Central Luzon during the waning years of the Marcos regime up to the restoration of democracy.
Given the context of institution’s situation and mandate, Dondon’s membership to PRRM’s highest policy-making body will contribute towards shaping a more robust and sustainable PRRM.
March 8, 2014, Cocoon Boutique Hotel
Quezon City, Philippines