APARRI, Cagayan, Philippines – As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region 02 gave 85 essential relief packs and 10 units of Multi-Purpose Drying facility on May 21-23, 2021 at Sitio Naguilian, Barangay Fuga Island.

Fuga is one of the islands located north of Luzon, part of the Babuyan Archipelago and  a far-flung barangay in Aparri, Cagayan. It is accessible by boat – 3-4 hours – from Claveria town.

DOST R02 though its Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) program facilitated Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) activity. The TNA was conducted to identify the science and technology needs of the community and properly plan interventions through CEST.

The Island is identified as a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA) with 4 elementary schools located in four different sitios. Due to difficulties, parents who can only afford to send their children to high school and college have the privilege to pursue their studies in the mainland, and those who aren’t capable will continue to help their parents in the Island to find food to eat.

This island has been hampered by lack of education, livelihood opportunities and limited electricity service. The island used solar energy donated by supporting institutions to light up the villages. Solar panels are lower power prices that will leave more income for the islanders to buy for essentials such as food and education, and also give them greater connectivity through mobile phone charging, access to TV and radio, and internet services.

With the result of the TNA, S&T supports were determined particularly in Education and Health and Nutrition. For the entry point on education, DOST 02 strategized the installation of Science and Technology Research-Based Openly-Operated KioskS (STARBOOKS) in elementary schools powered by Solar Panel and Batteries. More than 400 students and teachers will be benefited to have a better access to education in the said project.

STARBOOKS provides reliable and free science and technology (S&T) information to the public in an offline mode. It includes books, journals, researches, and others, including livelihood videos that will help the children, teachers, and the community develop and enhance their S&T knowledge in the Island.

In the island, there are still children who dreamt to live the life which they’ve imagined, to be successful and to chase greater endeavors. One of them is Kimberly Miguel, a grade 9 student of Claveria Rural and Vocational School who imagined herself to be a flight attendant someday and to help her family succeed in life.

“Ang pangarap ko po ay maging isang Flight Attendant, Gusto ko pong makapunta sa iba-ibang bansa, Gusto kong tuparin ang pangako ko sa kanila na mag-aaral po ako ng Mabuti.” She said in an interview conducted by DOST 02.

“Ang trabaho pong ng mga magulang ko ay Farmer at Housewife po, kaya gusto ko pong umangat ang pamilya ko sa hirap” she added.

About 2,000 residents of the Island are unable to access clean water for drinking and sanitation, posing a serious health risk to residents. Under the entry point Clean Water and Sanitation, DOST 02 will conduct physicochemical water testing and on their water sources for microbiology contaminants as part of CEST intervention on water sanitation.

Farming and Fishing are main livelihood in the Island, because of the abundance of natural resources such (as mung bean and corn) and with the presence of solar drying trays, DOST 02 planned to conduct Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) training on the island to improve their product’s safety, quality, and shelf-life.  

To provide timely, accurate and reliable services using the latest analytical methods and procedures that are accepted as international standards. DOST 02 aimed the calibration of weighing scales, along with a complementary feeding program conducted for underweight children in the island. This part of CEST intervention on health and nutrition.

In 2018, the municipality of Aparri reported the greatest number of damaged houses hit by Typhoon Ompong and Fuga Island is one of those affected areas because of its location. The islanders depended only on external assistance reinforced by the government.

With this, DOST 02 planned to educate them on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. This promotes and helps them understand science-based information & technologies for disaster prevention & mitigation and making them a disaster resilient island.

“We must find and identify S&T solutions that create economic opportunities and solve human development challenges not only in our region, but the entire Philippines.” Engr. Sylvia Lacambra, the Provincial Director of PSTC Cagayan said in the meeting with Marine Battalion Officials and Barangay officials.

“This journey is made possible by the directives from our Secretary Fortunato Dede la Peña and our Regional Director Sancho A. Mabborang, in bringing science and technology closer to the disadvantaged communities and into their hearts.” She added.

Moreover, Project Assistant II Elise Lucas shared her expertise and conducted training on home care products, particularly the formulation of dishwashing liquid and detergent powder.

DOST 02 expressed gratitude to the Marine Battalion Landing Team – 10/Naval Task Group Fleet Marine Cagayan for the partnership and with the help to reach the island safely.

DOST 02 with its mandate will continue to integrate S&T solutions in every community in Region 02 to bring science closer to their hearts. – DOST 02 S&T PEN DAVE M.