Cebu’s youth get ready for the rainy days

January 26, 2011

Angelo G. Garcia
Manila Bulletin
January 18, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Last year, the country experienced extreme heat in summer, up to the first few months of the rainy season. This caused crop fields and water reservoirs all over the country to dry up.

Fortunately, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the country will experience a wetter year in 2011. The summer season will just be a month while the wet season will run through most of the year.

With this forecast, the weather bureau has advised the people to prepare and expect more rains, but hopefully not too much to cause flooding, which has been a cyclic problem in this country.

However, there is one group of young people that has prepared way ahead of the rest of us. The Pag-asa Youth Association (PYA) of Talisay, Cebu has provided a simple solution to the flooding problem besetting their adopted barangays in their hometown of Talisay, Cebu.

The solution, called Ground Permeability Enhancer (GPE), is actually made of special hollow blocks put on top of one another to form a pyramid and installed underground to increase the ground’s ability to absorb water.

“When the rainy season came, we documented its effectiveness. We noticed that it’s really effective because in less than five minutes, the water was absorbed, covering almost the whole area. We also interviewed the residents what the effects were and they said the floodwater does not go inside their houses anymore,” shares 23-year-old, Rex Villavelez, a science teacher and president of the PYA Talisay.

With GPE, the residents also observed that water supply coming from the ground is now easily replenished.

“According to one resident, mas mabigat na raw and pump ng poso, indicating that the supply of water from underneath is rising. These testimonials are not from the organization but from the beneficiaries of the project we’re doing. We were also surprised,” Villavelez admits.

This simple solution that carries a big impact on the community is the reason why PYA won in the recent Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO).

Simple yet impactful

PYA worked in partnership with local engineer Lee Consul who conceptualized and designed the GPE. PYA members and volunteers, in turn, served as presenters to local officials and construction workers to show them the advantages and sustainability of the GPE system. They started the GPE project in 2009 in a few barangays in Talisay.

“The engineer was looking for a youth group to help in the project. DSWD recommended us. So we gathered all our officers from all the barangays of the city of Talisay and he introduced the project. Engineer Lee presented the project — what must be done, what are the benefits, how it would work,” explains Villavelez.

PYA officers endorsed the project to barangay captains. Since the barangay would only spend P5,000 per structure, Villavelez says that it was not difficult to convince them.

“So that’s how the organization was able to mobilize this project. The organization served as the motivator, we really pushed for it. What we’re thinking was, di ba may baha sa inyo at gusto ninyo mabawasan ‘yan, heto ang solusyon, magtulungan tayo,’’ he relates.

PYA volunteers built three of these pyramid structures in areas covered by Sitio Minggoy and Sitio Mangga. The workers dig a hole in the ground until they reach the sandy part of the soil. Hollow blocks are then placed in a conical shape into the hole and are covered by rocks and soil. The spaces in between blocks and the hollow center act as channels where water can enter and be evenly distributed. The sandy bottom then easily absorbs the water.

“The water gathers in one area and forms a vortex, talaga inaabsorb ang water. We were not expecting for it to be that effective. Ang gawain talaga dito dapat ipaalam sa ibang barangay kung saan malaki ang incidence ng flooding. Kahit community lang, mag-ambagan sila puwede nang gawin ang proyekto na ito. It can be replicated anywhere, which is a good thing about this project,” Villavelez adds.


Empowering OSYs

The PYA Talisay was established through the Unlad Kabataan Program of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) in 2002. The organization was then re-established in 2007, which also reignited their projects for out-of-school youths (OSYs).

The nature of the organization is to create projects for OSYs that empower them to get involved and participate in their communities through trainings and workshops. Currently, the organization has roughly 1,200 members and operates in all the 22 barangays in Talisay.

“We develop potential leaders and they also bring other OSYs with them into the projects and activities like tree-planting, seminars, etc. We give OSYs avenues for development, wherein they can achieve something
despite being not in school,” he says.

Most of the officers of PYA are OSYs themselves, with ages ranging from 15 to 24 years old. Through PYA, many OSYs have gone back to school, either formally or through the Alternative Learning System.

Because of its outstanding performance, PYA gets P200,000 from the DSWD for their projects. They have also helped their members get jobs, with around 40 PYA members now working for the local government of Talisay.

With their TAYO win, there is just no stopping PYA from doing what its needs to do. With steady support from the government and the community they work in, PYA has a long way to go, with more young people rolling up their sleeves to work and be of help.



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