THE burden of being a single mother did not stop Warblitz Martinez from doing what she loves to do with her life and her future.
At 48 and with three school children, this go-getting entrepreneur from the picturesque town of Palompon in Leyte province has took the road less traveled in grassroots business and women empowerment and eventually made a difference on it, particularly when she became the president of Palompon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is being recognized by its counterparts nationwide.
As a proof of her entrepreneurial spirit, positive thinking, and advocacy for environment, Martinez has been chosen as one of this year’s "Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs" under the small medium-category during the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit organized by the country’s top business advocacy institution Go Negosyo at World Trade Center in Pasay City on March 6.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte conferred her the most coveted award in recognition of her contribution and “capacity to be catalysts of change and progress.”
“We believe that your exemplary performance and innovation in leading Aqua Peace Farm, your inspiring success story, and your way of giving back to the community deserve to be recognized in line with the global celebration of Women's Month,” reads the awarding letter of Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III, presidential adviser for Entrepreneurship and the Founding Trustee of Go Negosyo.
With her award, Martinez thanked the Duterte administration, saying: "Kahit nasa sulok kami na malilit but still nakikita ang kunting kinang."
"I thank God for guiding us, my whole family, and those who supported on what we are doing. Also, I thank all the government agencies, especially the Department of Trade and Industry in Eastern Visayas," Martinez told SunStar.
Green, woman warrior
Martinez, the youngest of 10 siblings from spouses Lorenzo Lim Martinez and Igmedia Manatad-Martinez, is no stranger in the world of entrepreneurship, as she started to take charge of their family fishpond and turned it into a leading aquasilviculture and farm-tourism in their town and in Eastern Visayas region.
She handles various businesses in her town, including a drugstore, grill bar, food catering business, a pasalubong center, and a five-hectare fish farm, despite being a graduate of Aeronautical Engineering.
Her desire to lift up fellow entrepreneurs and the women workers in her town pushed her to form the Palompon Women Workers Association, whose members produce native handicrafts, among others.
Martinez also stood as president of the Palompon Free Farmers and Fisherfolks Association, where she leads in planting rattan and trees in the upland areas of Palompon under the National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Eastern Visayas.
As an environmental advocate, Martinez promotes a clean and green environment around her fishpond and in the community by linking with other stakeholders and civic groups, such as the Lions Club of Palompon, Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity, Guardians Brotherhood, Chamber of Commerce in the entire Eastern Visayas region, and even her school friends.
With their “Let’s Do It” Cleaning project and mangrove tree planting, Martinez said they already planted about 10 hectares of mangrove propagules in the different coastal communities of Palompon “duly supervised by the DENR-Region 8 office.”
To date, Martinez said she also acted as the “watchdog of said mangrove areas, including those around this project site, established the nursery of mangrove propagules, and planted more propagules in the area as her family also culture bangus, prawn and crabs in the area.”
“In this fishpond, Aqua Peace Farm continued to grow milkfish (bangus) duly providing the required fish in the wet market of Palompon and other nearby municipalities. Some local tourists also came and enjoyed fishing in this pond. What they get, they also pay and bring it to their respective homes for food consumption,” her profile reads.
According to Martinez, the prices in her farm are relatively low, only at P100 to P130 per kilo.
“It also served as food reserves or food security for the locals most especially during disasters or natural calamities. When storm or typhoon comes to Leyte, most fishermen stop fishing in the seas, leaving behind the wet market empty with fish and other seafood. Aqua Peace Farm, therefore, replaces these gaps or losses of fishes in many instances, by providing the market requirement with the foregoing Milkfish and other marine products,” she added.
To top it all, Martinez also introduced the Improved Solar Tunnel Drier, which protects danggit fish from flies, dirt and even from rain. Dried products are also vacuum packed.
In between managing her business, Martinez is also involved in organic vegetable farming, fish deboning and drying training, therapeutic massage training, monitoring of mangrove plantation, joining trade fairs, hosting and attending business conferences, and giving business support and tourism promotion of the town’s famed Kalanggaman Island and Tabuk Marine Park and other tourist attractions in the area.
When Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) pummeled the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, killed over 7,000 people and displaced over four million others, Martinez and her different organization also became a pillar, a source of strength to the community.
“For many days right after Typhoon Yolanda, the wet market building was destroyed, there were no roofs to cover it and worse, no foods to sell inside. Plenty vendors wanted to sell but there were no more supplies of rice, vegetables, and fish. Only one source of fish products remain standing – and that was the Aqua Peace Farm,” her nominee form reads.
“This fish farm continued to maintain the supplies of bangus in the market. It was actually an opportunity for the farm to sell its fish at the highest cost or double its market price, but Ms. Martinez was kind enough to continue selling at its farm gate price of only P100 a kilo. No increase whatsoever. She pitied her neighbors who were all victims of this tragic Yolanda. In short, aquaculture provided food security at the times of natural disasters/calamities,” it added.
Martinez and her business have helped the town in its recovery efforts amid the destruction they have had after the typhoon.
Martinez and the PCCI-Palompon also organized “Bangon Palompon (Rise Up Palompon)” to bring immediate help to their town mates by distributing relief goods, clothing, and housing materials to the homeless.
They also helped in bringing in various aid groups, like the Green Helmets from Germany, to build shelters for storm victims in the remote villages in their town.
With the shelter program, at least 56 housing units were built in Palompon and school buildings in Bantayan island, as well as in Matag-ob, Leyte.
With all her business skills and numerous advocacies, Martinez received her recognition award in E3, which stands for “Excellence in Enterprise and Ecology,” during the Philippine Business Conference of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, aside from the awards she got from the Department of Trade and Industry and Go Negosyo.
With her entrepreneurial spirit and promotion of a clean and green environment, Martinez indeed remains an “Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur” for all women in Palompon and elsewhere in Leyte province. (SunStar Philippines)