RAYMUNDO C. AGATON JR.
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 three 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 Eastern Samar.
Since 1998, Dondon has 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. Trees now are ready for harvest for lumber but the community decided to let the trees stand as contribution to expanding the island’s carbon sink.
Striking the balance between the continuing fishing activities of artisanal and municipal fishers and the urgent need to rehabilitate Camiguin’s marine and coastal waters remains to be 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 and mangrove forests. This is made possible through the organizing of bantay-dagat in coastal villages. The same is true in providing fishers with diversified, on- and off-resource income opportunities as economic resiliency measures.
Dondon also shared his development expertise in other parts of mainland Mindanao. In various capacities, he was engaged in mainstreaming eco-development tourism in Siargao Island; piloting renewable energy projects in Central Mindanao; engaging various stakeholders in peace-building efforts; and disaster response and preparedness in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City during Super Typhoon Sendong.
With the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), 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. With program support from long-time partners, Oxfam Pilipinas, People to People Aid of Japan (P2) and DISOP-Philippines, PRRM implemented a short-term post-Haiyan economic recovery project for small fishers in the towns of Balangiga, Giporlos and Quinapondan.
Dondon started working in PRRM in 1989 as community organizer, working with the poorest of farmers in far flung villages of Nueva Ecija, with 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.