Hometown is in former seafarer’s heart (Last of two parts)

by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano

OFW Journalism Consortium, in partnership with The Philippine Star

 

The company, so far, has sent over-3,000 seafarers on crew and has 1,000 more on vacation, waiting for redeployment.

This is when Gacutan’s annual dividends with Dohle-Philman became his family’s, and Bautista’s gain.Rosemarie first set up a tailor shop for seafarers’ uniforms, with Dohle-Philman’s seafarers roster as clients. When it grew, the couple then established the first entrepreneurial endeavor in Bautista, a trading company that sells agricultural products as well as products for fishponds.

The next to go up was Ketegan’s building in which the Gacutans allowed local entrepreneurs to rent spaces. Next were a bakery, a mini-grocery, agricultural and poultry feeds, and finally a resort.

Then they formed a multi-purpose cooperative, as well as the Gacutan Family Foundation that gives scholarships on seafaring, holds feeding sessions and medical-dental missions, and supports some disaster relief efforts.

“When the businesses were set up, no local entrepreneurs in Bautista ventured into these lines of businesses,” Gacutan explained, as all these enterprises’ capital was courtesy of Gacutan’s dividends at Dohle-Philman —the “mother company”,  even if the companies are not directly under Dohle-Philman.

The Gacutans just carried a habit that’s hard to break. “Whenever I get my dividends from Dohle-Philman, Rose and I always think of where to use this and which business will we finance.”

And except for the tailor shop in Manila, “each of our business must be set up in Bautista.”

 

Engagement

BAUTISTA is on the western side of Pangasinan, with 28,904 residents living in 18 barangays. Its municipal government earned P41.835 million in total income (P39.141 million came from the internal revenue allotment), says data from the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Actually, looking at the 2010 data of the Local Government Performance Monitoring System, Bautista earned plus-4 (out of a high of 5) in economic governance. While the score means good news to the local government and its residents, the LGPMS database recommended that “more needs to be done to institutionalize a business-friendly environment.”

Surely, a municipal government that currently enjoys its own slick municipal hall may be doing efforts to improve the business climate, but Gacutan wants to go the extra mile on his own.

This is where he saw the need to engage overseas workers’ economic power in the area. Last March, he formed the Bautista, Pangasinan OFW Association —hoping that many of the seafarers’ families will put up backyard or home-based businesses.

By setting up these businesses, Gacutan explains, “they will do something productive while their spouses are overseas, and while they are receiving remittances from abroad. The hometown ultimately benefits.”

It is not only overseas Bautistanons whom Gacutan is concerned. My hometown, he says, “has a routinary lifestyle.  People are at work during the day, and then they sleep at night. Then people earn their salaries by month’s end.”

“The economic situation seems placid that way,” he adds.

Now in his mid-50s, Gacutan continues to be hands on in not only managing Dohle-Philman daily, but in engaging residents Bautista (now including barangays outside of Ketegan) during weekends to wake up from their economic slumber. And he’s gotten used to that 151.66 km. road trek on weekends.

“Before, when I was at sea, Bautista is always in my horizon. What more that I am on shore?”#