Through the years, Ambergris Caye has seen gradual changes to its surroundings. Many people are responsible for these changes, people who have a sincere interest in their community and love to see it prosper. This week, The San Pedro Sun is proud to introduce one man who has dedicated his life to San Pedro and its people – Area Representative for Belize Rural South, Manuel Heredia Jr.
Manuel was born in San Pedro Town to Manuel and Rosita Heredia on a bright sunny September 29th, 1951. He was born into a family of four girls and three boys and grew up enjoying the clear waters surrounding "La Isla Bonita." Manuel fondly recalls canoeing out to sea, fishing and snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea.
Manuel attended the San Pedro Roman Catholic School located where the police station is today. The two story wooden building provided him with a sound education and after successfully completing his studies there he attended Saint John's College High School (SJCHS) in Belize City. Manuel's entire family made the move to the City. At SJCHS, Manuel studied Industrial Arts and specialized in welding. He proudly graduated in 1970.
After graduating, Manuel moved back to the island and began fishing with Mr. Francisco Arceo for four months, until he heard of a great opportunity in Ladyville in the mainland. Bowen & Bowen Distributors were planning to build their beer (Belikin) factory and were in need of welders. Since he had majored in welding, Manuel decided to take advantage of the opportunity and made the move to the mainland where he remained for 14 months. After the project's completion, he was offered a job as a maintenance worker but Manuel chose to move back to San Pedro.
Back on the island in 1972, Manuel opened his own welding shop on Pescador Drive. However, he still had his passion for the open sea and went out on fishing trips with Mr. Guillermo Nuñez and/or Mr. Severo Castillo, their catches were then sold to the Cooperative. (Manuel has been a Director of the Caribeña Cooperative for the more than 30 years.)
On November 25th, 1975, only one short month after The Lions Club was formed in San Pedro, Manuel became a proud member of this service minded club. Through his involvement with this worldwide organization, Manuel assisted in building the San Pedro High School. "It was a lot of labor, but it was something that would benefit my children and my children's children. It was for the good of the community," he said. As a part of the Club, Manuel also assisted in remodeling the San Pedro Lions Clinic and served as President of the Clinic. Through the years, Manuel has served as President and Secretary of the Lions.
On May 22, 1976, Manuel wed the love of his life, Carmelita Vasquez. Their union has produced three children: Manuel Jr. (27), Alba Deli (24), and Odalice (15).
In 1978, Manuel was offered a wonderful opportunity; one that he knew could not be passed up. He traveled to Nova Scotia for two weeks to study navigation. "It was a wonderful offer from the Government. I was even more surprised when two years later, I was offered the same opportunity!" he exclaimed. The second time in Nova Scotia, Manuel studied mechanics and returned to the island with a wealth of information.
With his hard work both as a fisherman and from his work as a welder, Manuel saved enough money to purchase his own boat.
Always having a sincere interest in his community, Manuel joined the political scene in 1984, as a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP). From 1994 to 1997, Manuel served as Mayor for San Pedro Town, and in 2003, Manuel was elected as Area Representative for Belize Rural South. It is a post he holds today with pride, "I try to keep grounded and not to forget the people who put me where I am now. Because of them, I am where I am and for that I am grateful," he stated.
In his free time, Manuel still enjoys heading out to sea to relax and fish. "The Caribbean Sea is what attracts tourists to our beautiful shores, to get here they save their money just to pay their plane tickets. Here we get to enjoy it for free and it is such a waste not to enjoy it every once in a while," he ended.
Always interested in San Pedro Town and its people, Manuel Heredia Jr. is a wonderful asset to "Our Community."