By Rose Tijam
Jackstones are tiny, star-shaped metal “thingies” of your childhood game that you play slumped on the floor, bouncing a tiny rubber ball as you scoop them with the same hand. I played that game, but now forgot how does one win.
Grow older, and meet the jackstones again — only this time, the jackstones are humongous cement and steelwire star-shaped objects that are sunk into the ocean floor. Colonies of fish, crustaceans, sea shells, sea plants, and other water creatures thrive on the jackstones. The jackstones become these creatures’ community and abode. More fish, more catch, more to eat, more to sell.
In the idyllic Philippine village of Buenasuerte in Aklan, in central Philippines, the once lush fishing ground was depleted. The coral reefs were dying due to over fishing and destruction of the environment. Class conflict rears its ugly head. Government corruption, lack of opportunities for the current and emerging generation, conflicts of interest, despair, etc. kill the once thriving family values, hard work and creativity.
“Buenasuerte” was dangerously teeteering into “Malasuerte.” The village folks gather together, the youth and the elderly contribute their might for their survival. They push and pull. They build numerous jackstones and plunk them into the sea,. The fish came back, and the fisher folks’ boats filled once again. There were adversarial interests, but they promise to be resolved.
The story, based on real life, was shown in a documentary film sponsored by World Vision Canada, one international organization that serves the Philippines well. World Vision Canada helps develop communities, offers help towards education, livelihood, health, well-being, environment protection, etc.
In the World Vision hierarchy, there are Filipino Canadians involved. Edgardo Gonzales, Program Advisor, spearheaded the formation of the World Vision Canada Multicultural Ambassadors last year. Three eminent Filipino Canadian community leaders were chosen among 12 trail blaizers: Rose Tijam of the Philippine Press Club of Ontario; Manolo Arnaldo, VP at the Philippine National Bank- Canada; and Rafael Nebres, Manager at Honda.
Present at the Jackstones screening on October 11, 2018 were PPCO president Rose Tijam and PPCO Secretary Marissa Corpus. Both graduates of UP, Rose has an MA in Communication, and Marissa an MBA. Marissa was earlier involved in the Philippine film industry.
Over lunch after the Jackstones screening, both PPCO colleagues were quiet.
” Excellent film,” they concluded. ” Excellent people,” they meant.