by Mark Salanga (ABS-CBN News Bacolod)
Hinigaran's sea is the main source of income by almost all of the people who are living near the sea: fishing, selling sea shells, oysters, crabs and all.
Now, they have discovered another source of income in the form of fish cages, or locally known and called "floaters". It is a very popular and efficient way of making business for it only uses a small area and yet it can give quite an income for the owners. You will only need bamboos (or "kawayan") for the structure and nets for trapping the fish from fingerlings until its full growth.
Helen Tupas, a 31 year-old single parent, is one of the owners of these floaters in Hinigaran but she lives in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Every other day she visits the area to help her workers from feeding the fingerlings and making sure that it grows well, for the better it grows the bigger the profit. So thousands (the number of fishes) it may be, Helen measures each fish carefully checking the growth quality. Because just a (one) day delay of feeding it especially the milk fish (bangus), it will cause stress to the fishes and may greatly affect its growth. It may be a taxing job for a lady like her doing a man's job but when you enjoy doing what you do it's just like playing, Helen says!
She even brings her daughter to the floaters to take care of her while doing her rounds. Her hard work is paid off after six to seven months. Starting with one floater, now she has three and plans to build more fish cages. With that dream, she also plans to put up a restaurant in the future.
Helen's life may not be that colorful nor very exciting but it is sure an inspiring tale of a strong-willed woman doing everything for the sake of her family and daughter's future!