CRISTETA M. SISON
Cristeta Sison, also known as “Ka Tita”, is a community organizer in Central Luzon whose leadership empowers communities in Zambales and Pangasinan in fighting for their livelihood and opposing large-scale mining. She is an inspiration to many small-scale farmers and fisherfolk.
Ka Tita had been for a long time one with the grassroots in defending the environment. In 2003, she was one of the founders of an organization named Sagipin ang Kalikasan that aimed to oppose destructive mining operations. She headed Agapan ang Kalikasan (AGAP) when it was founded in 2009. AGAP was comprised of farmers and fisherfolk that opposed mining in the mountains of Sta. Cruz, Candelaria, Masinloc, Palaguig, Iba, and Botolan in Zambales. She became the Regional Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness Organization in an Inter-Provincial Conference held by the network Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. in 2013.
In cooperation with various groups, Ka Tita and her organizations co-organized medical missions, disaster preparedness trainings, relief delivery operations and cash transfer programming among several barangays which benefitted thousands of individuals from poor and disaster-vulnerable families. She also gathered support from the church, scientists, and environment advocates to aid their campaigns. She assisted in an environmental investigative mission on mining areas by civil society groups and in the late Gina Lopez’s mining audit.
Despite entering her senescence, she tirelessly persists on working with the communities. She co-established a broad alliance for the environment, livelihood, rights, and safety called Movement for the Protection of Environment, Livelihood and Rights in Zambales (MOVENOW) in response to the growing threat of four mining operations in the province. Her sharp analysis and linking of destructive mining operations with disasters through scientific evidence was integral in uniting communities who further launched a Barikadang Bayan in Brgy. Bayto to decisively halt mining operations in their area.
Ka Tita occasionally faces political-driven harassments and apparent surveillance operations but she continues to fight hand-in-hand with the toiling masses whom likewise inspire her to continue struggling for livelihood and the environment with them.