NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic engulfing 186 countries since December 2019 has aggravated risks of extreme food insecurity that has affected populations in both developed and developing countries. Unfortunately, cities in these countries were not properly designed to provide sustainable sources of adequate and nutritious food for large population. Major disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the pandemic have aggravated the already existing problems of limited access to fresh and nutritious food at affordable prices, malnutrition, and hunger, along with food wastage.
One inspiring story in the community about urban gardening as food resiliency initiative in this pandemic is how the 350-square meter rocky terrain site of Manga National High School (MNHS) in 2007 was gradually transformed into an urban containerized garden and edible landscaping to produce vegetables, short-season crops, and ornamentals, another accomplishment ofthe Tagbilaran City Schools Division headed by Dr. Joseph Irwin A. Lagura, Superintendent.
Dr. Salustiano T. Jimenez, JD, EdD, CESO V, Regional Director of the Department of Education (DepEd) – Region 7, issued Regional Memorandum (RM) No.0392 dated May 25, 2021, in connection with RM No. 273 dated May 29, 2020 and RM No. 141 dated March 05, 2021 on the shortlisted school, district, and division nominees that included Manga National High School among the Top 3 finalists for “GulayansaPaaralan Program”(GPP) -urban category Outstanding Program Implementer (OPI) – Regional Level for School Year (SY) 2020-2021, through the efforts of the 4H-Club and agriculture class under Pablita R. Cabarles, GPP implementer and 4-H Club coordinator, and Grace Marie L. Campos, MNHS principal, with the full support of the teachers, non-teaching personnel, and federated parents-teachers association (FPTA). Other regional contenders are Bogo Central Elementary School II in Bogo City and Pusok Elementary School in Lapu-Lapu City.
The Top 3 regional contenders will be judged according to the merits of their program and project standards and implementation accomplishments, impact, sustainability, adaptability, replicability, innovation, and stakeholders’ support,as shown in the audio-visual presentation, and their answers during the interview by the Regional Validation Teambased on content, delivery, impact, and persuasion, and virtual site validation.
It may be recalled that the school was adjudged first placer in the division level edible landscaping contest and since then, has been a consistent division level awardee as “Best GulayansaPaaralan Program and Food Security Program Implementer”. Also, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) also recognized MNHS as “Hall of Famer” in implementing the “ModelongGulayansaPaaralan Program” (containerized category –secondary level) in the entire province of Bohol.
In consonance with Republic Act No. 10533 (Implementing Rules and Regulations of the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013”) that encourages local initiatives to indigenize and enhance the curriculum, based on theperspective that quality of education be improved and be adapted to the social context ofthe learners, MNHS started offering the Eskwela-Turismo-Agrikultura (ETA) program, a new program in the Tagbilaran City Schools Division, with aquaculture and agri-crops as additional subjects in the SY 2019-2020. On September 10, 2019,the DepEd – 7 proclaimed MNHS as the Regional Gawad SakaWinner and National Finalist in the Search for Outstanding Young FarmersOrganization of the 4-H Club in the Philippines.
Dynamic stakeholder involvement and support paved the way to the realization of the program. The Agricultural Training Institute – Regional Training Center (ATI-RTC) – Central Visayas headed by Dr. Carolyn May O. Daquio provided technical and financial assistance for site development and maintenance and conducted quarterly monitoring and evaluation; the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) – Region 7 introduced hydrophonic farming and gave fingerlings every 6 months for tilapia production; the Bohol Provincial Agriculture Technology Coordinating Office (PATCO) under Roman M. Dabalos gave vegetable seeds, gardening tools, and technical assistance; the Department of Agriculture (DA) – 7 led by Atty. Salvador D. Diputado, LL.M.,Ph.D. as Regional Executive Director, donated gardening tools, vegetable seedlings,and organic fertilizers, as well as gave technical assistance in vegetable production; and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) under Dr. Larry M. Pamugas during the incumbency of both Gov. Edgardo M. Chatto and Gov.Arthur C. Yap, respectively, shared vegetables seeds,gardening tools, and provided technical assistance. On the other hand, the City Government of Tagbilaran led by Mayor John Geesnell L. Yap II, through City Agriculture and Veterinary Office’s (CAVO)Dr. Genette Mae D. Egos, provided vegetable seeds, seedlings, gardening tools, technical knowledge to yield better produce, and deployed three (3) security guards to secure the safety of the GPP and the entire school area, with the support of the barangay councils of Manga and Ubujan for the safety and security of the projects during Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
Stakeholders who gave moral support during the virtual regional validation were Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell L. Yap II representativeFielAngeli E. Araoarao-Gabin, Administrative Assistant IV (Public Relations Officer), City Government of Tagbilaran; Dr. Grace F. Arado, Assistant Regional Director, ATI-RTC – Central Visayas; Merigine C. Otara, Planning Officer II, ATI-RTC-Central Visayas;Tagbilaran City Schools Division’s Dr. John Ariel A. Lagura, Chief, Curriculum Implementation Division; Dr. AquilinoT. Milar, Administrative Officer V; Joseph C. Barrete, Technical Vocational Livelihood (TLV) and Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) Education Program Supervisor; and Emily L. Acabo, Division Librarian II, as well asMaricel O. Barimbao, MNHS ICT Coordinator; and Mark Vincent R. Arabejo, former MNHS Supreme Student Government (SSG) and 4-H Club president, senior high school agriculture graduate, and a 4Ps beneficiary who is internalizing the “GulayansaTahanan” containerized urban gardening. Arabejo is now the Bohol provincial 4-H president and regional vice-president of 4-H – Central Visayas. In 2019, he was awarded as “Outstanding Young Farmers in Region 7” and was supposed to leave for Taiwan for 11 months to participate in the Farm Youth Exchange Program of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), but set aside the opportunity, as he decided to study theology at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary (IHMS) starting July 2021. (CIELO G.)