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PIA Press Release

After infra project, students to lug water gallons to school no more

By Rachelle M. Nessia

Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental (26 February) -- It is a familiar sight in this remote and windy village of Calango, tucked about 5 kilometers uphill from the poblacion of Zamboanguita town, to see students lugging along a gallon of water to school.

For the 210 students attending Calango Elementary School, that gallon of water is their "lifeline" when nature calls because the school has no water supply due to its distant location.

Twelve-year old Arjay Elumbra, now in Grade 5, said that if he was not able to bring along a gallon of water, he goes to the nearby river. "We fetch water there and then haul it back to the school," he said.

But the water gallons will soon be a thing of the past for the Calango Elementary School students. Before the year is over, the school will have a water supply plus an additional one-classroom school building to boot, courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Kalayaan Barangay's Program (KBP) Project in Negros Oriental.

Brgy. Calango is one of the 11 barangays in Negros Oriental that has been identified to benefit from the President's KBP project, an initiative of the government to solve the insurgency problem hounding far-flung areas in the countryside.

Under the KBP project, more than P35 million worth of infrastructure will be created in Negros Oriental in the following villages: Brgy. Enrique Villanueva in Sibulan, Brgy. Casala-an in Siaton, Brgy. Calango and Najandig in Zamboanguita, Brgy. San Jose, San Miguel, Talalak and Nagbinlod in Sta. Catalina, and Brgy. Banawe, Sta. Agueda and Abante in Pamplona.

The project addresses the plight of the said villages that have long suffered from destitution in its various forms- lack of classroom, impassable roads and absence of water supply, health centers or electrification making the areas conducive to the proliferation of insurgency.

No one can be happier than Calango village chief Lester Hulk Baldivinio that his village is one of the chosen few to benefit from the project that will bring a total of P4.5 million worth of infrastructure into his barangay. "Dako kaayo ang among pasalamat kang Presidente Gloria kay dako gyud ang ikatabang namo kining mga proyekto (We thank the President for these projects can bring a lot of good to us)," said Baldivinio.

Baldivinio's village is set to benefit from a road project, water project, health center, a school building and electrification under the said program.

Had they been left to their own devices, Baldivinio said it would have taken the barangay council years before they can even start to implement a fraction of the projects they are getting from KBP. "We allot P200,000 annually for the concreting of just a 50-meter road. Just imagine how many years it will take for us to finish what this program will bring to us before the year is over," he stressed.

As a gesture of the village's gratitude and support to the said program, Baldivinio has mobilized the Parents and Teachers Association of Calango Elementary School to assist the soldiers of the 542 Engineer Battalion that has been working 24/7 on the construction of the school building. "The parents helped in the backfilling of soil and gravel. This is good too because it will give the community a sense of ownership," he said.

Baldivinio is also elated over the support the project is getting from Zamboanguita Mayor Kit Mark Adanza who he said has offered construction materials as the municipal government's counterpart.

As the school building starts to shape up under the shared labor of soldiers and citizens, Calango Elementary School Principal Jose Alan Acupanda can't help but grin widely as he shares his plans for the newest addition to his four-classroom school. "We will turn this into a room for Industrial Arts because the Grades 5 and 6 students badlya need a room for their carpentry and electrical subjects. This is such a big help to us," Acupanda gushed.

It will be a big help to the students too who wouldn't have to bring a gallon of water to school each day anymore. "We have built a rain collector so that during the rainy months, we can amass enough water for the students," the principal explained.

He said that each student drinks about half of each gallon of water. By the end of the school day, the students pour their remaining water into a large plastic container that has been placed inside each classroom. "This water is reserved for during 'emergency', when a student has to use the restroom," said Acupanda.

Arjay, too, is grinning. "Thank you to President Arroyo for the water," he shyly said, who without a doubt is eagerly looking forward to the day when he need not bring a gallon of water to school anymore. (PIA) [top]

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