Bontoc, Southern Leyte, 06 January 2015 - Ms. Mabel Calva, Southern Leyte State University - Bontoc Campus Administrator was so surprised when Dir. Edgardo M. Esperancilla, Regional Director of DOST Region VIII, appeared at the door of her office last January 6, 2015. The ever smiling Director greeted the surprised Administrator with a warm "beso-beso" and afterwards seated comfortable at the cushioned chair offered by the administrator. Director Esperancilla personally visited SLSU-Bontoc to turn-over a project fund in the amount of P0.4M for the project "Strengthening and Monitoring of Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) Program in Region VIII". The said project was conceptualized by SLSU-Bontoc and DOST VIII in the last quarter of CY 2014. During the same period, proposal of the said project was deliberated by the DOST VIII Regional Technical Evaluation Committee (RTEC) and found to be significant and qualified for the local Grants-In-Aid (GIA) Program thus, endorsed for approval and funding. The project primarily aims to strengthen the implementation of the Program in the region and at the same time monitor the impact of the program which was introduced in some provinces in the region since it was started in 2013.
The project will focus on the following:
- Identify 6 new community beneficiaries at 1 beneficiary per province;
- Provide and transfer 6 technology-based livelihood projects to 6 identified new CEST communities;
- Facilitate transfer of know-how and technologies to the identified beneficiaries/stakeholders of the CEST program related to:
- health and nutrition
- water and sanitation
- disaster risk reduction
- industry development (livelihood)
- Monitor and evaluate the impact of the ongoing CEST program implementation in the following communities:
- Jaro, Leyte
- Basey, Samar
- Salcedo, Eastern Samar
- Sogod, Southern Leyte
- Establish and strengthen linkages with the LGUs and other stakeholders of the program.
Director Esperancilla who is a firm believer and one of the prime movers of the program encouraged SLSU-Bontoc Campus to include in their extension function as higher education the transfer of their institution's developed technologies to communities of which empowerment is highly needed and livelihood opportunities is a sound option to alleviate poverty in the said community. Esperancilla cited the case of Bobon, Northern Samar, a pioneering CEST beneficiary-municipality that empowered a women's group of that area through the provision of a Common Service Facility (CSF) for the processing of their local food products "piñato" and "pinangat" by the LGU and by the DOST VIII and the University of Eastern Philippine (UEP) Research Office Consultancy Group. The said women's group is now competitive and generating income that will augment their families financial. Other components such as water and sanitation, health and nutrition, etc., had been implemented also by the municipality in coordination with DOST VIII and the University partner of the program in that province, UEP. Esperancilla emphasized that the higher institution plays a vital role in empowering communities because of its capability to conduct research, access to information, development of new products, capability to educate a community, and access to sources of funds. He stressed that this call for the participation of different higher education institutions and its external campuses in the CEST implementation in the region has already been agreed and approved by the different SCU Presidents in one of the Board of Regents meeting. Ms. Calva on the other hand, accepted the challenge of Director Esperancilla and stressed that the early release of the project funds and the presence of the Director himself showed the seriousness and the commitment of the agency (DOST) to hasten the CEST implementation program in the municipality of Bontoc and its nearby municipalities in the province of Southern Leyte, and to identify other possible areas where CEST could be best implemented.
Overwhelmed with the immediate action of the DOST VIII in approving and releasing of the funds for the project, Ms. Calva assured full commitment in the implementation of the project and to ensure that the objectives will be met. (By Engr. Ramil Uy, DOST VIII)