TAYO Finalists

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Terrestrial and Aquatic Restorations By Students Immersed In Environmental Reforms

Creating Change Through: The Can-ugkay Community-based Watershed and Habitat Restoration Project

A name like Terrestrial And Aquatic Restorations By Students Immersed In Environmental Reforms or TARSIER would surely spark the interest of many. However, the success of this small school-based organization from the Visayas State University (VSU) was of that of the little-tugboat-that-could, having started with simply the will to help even amidst scant resources.

The Can-ugkay Community-based Watershed and Habitat Restoration Project was conceptualized by former TARSIER president Jihan Santanina Santiago. The project site, the island municipality of Pilar in Cebu, is where Jihan is from. And despite this being far from their home base in Leyte, TARSIER members dedicated their weekends, travelling on land and across the sea to make great things happen.

What’s the Story?

TARSIER’s Can-ugkay Community-based Watershed and Habitat Restoration Project is a response to the deteriorating water supply of the Can-ugkay Watershed, which provides water to 1,500 households and plays a key part in keeping ecosystems and biodiversity in place.

Due to the dwindling forest cover and the increase of harmful and unsustainable farming practices such as the slash-and-burn technique, TARSIER members took a stand to believing that “a deep sense of environmentalism is a key to sustainability”. They addressed the lack of alternative sources of income for farmers or fisher folk and worked to counter negative environmental effects through a rehabilitation method called Rainforestation,

The Rainforestation Farming System integrates fruit-bearing trees like Lanzones, Durian, Rambutan and Mangosteen with native trees, resulting in a stable source of income for locals, the safeguarding of biodiversity and the protection of water supply. TARSIER tapped the expertise of the Institute of Tropical Ecology (ITE) of the Visayas State University and garnered the support of Plan International, Villahermosa Barangay Council and the Sangguniang Kabataan.

As local government units supported travel expenses, TARSIER members conducted training on Rainforestation Farming and Environmental Leadership seminars for farmers, youth leaders and high-school students alike. This not only produced a 1-hectar Demonstration Farm with 250 grafted fruit trees and 5,000 indigenous trees but also lead to the establishment of a centralized farmers’ group named the Can-ugkay Rainforestation Farmers’ Association or CaRFA.

Recognition and Success

In October 2009, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the Municipality of Pilar and Visayas State University for TARSIER’s continuing project. And for three consecutive years, TARSIER has been recognized as Best Student Organization.

During the TAYO 8 National Awarding, Team Energy awarded TARSIER 20000 pesos and a computer set-up for their “strength in synergy while demonstrating the power to serve and help build lives to inspire change among the Filipino youth.” Serving both man and nature, it is truly is a monumental achievement for the little-tugboat-that-could.

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Youth Solidarity for Peace

Creating Change Through: Peace Advocates Zamboanga for Shaping Mission Integrating Life’s Experiences or PAZ for SMILE

Youth Solidarity for Peace or YSP was formally established in 2008, stemming from a youth movement advocating the Culture of Peace and fighting against discrimination across cultures like Muslims, Yakan, Christians and Indigenous People. In an area perceived to be conflict-ridden, YSP now serves as the youth arm of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ). Hence, the name of the project PAZ for SMILE.

During the TAYO 8 National Finals, Aldrin Abdurahim spoke of how he was struck by a documentary he saw in Illinois “branding Zamboanga City as the kidnapping capital of the world.” He also explained that his experience of change-making and being part of the TAYO Search fueled his desire of “transforming our ideal communities to real communities that could change the image of the country in international scene.”

YSP espouses “a multi-faceted approach of synergizing and bridging peace, solidarity and leadership among communities.” Instead of merely preaching about the value of peace, PAZ for SMILE works in line with the philosophy that families, communities, individuals may truly come to embrace the ideal of peace, when necessities like food, access to healthcare and literacy are not overlooked. The project works in such a way that it first addresses the basic needs of people.

What’s the Story?

SMILE, short for Shaping Mission Integrating Life’s Experiences, created an avenue for interreligious dialogue, interaction and cooperation. From June 2009 to June 2010, YSP was able to reach about 2000 people in 7 communities by conducting peace camps, workshops, and outreach activities under this umbrella project.

The PAZ for SMILE consists of a 4-point program, namely: Responsive Education Amidst Adversity or READ, which addresses illiteracy and provides indigent kids reading materials and tutorials; PIYES, meaning feet in Chavacano, which provides slippers to children and the elderly; SHARE which stands for Smile for Hygiene Awareness; and Culture Across Real Experiences or CARE, which gives high school and college students a proper knowledge on the dynamics peace and the culture surrounding it.

Throughout the implementation of the project, YSP was able to connect thirty youth-affiliated organizations that include the Department of Education, 34 High Schools in Zamboanga City, Universities and Colleges, parishes, local government units and print/production houses.

Recognition and Success

While other people have given up on the peace and order situation in the South, Youth Solidarity for Peace has created a synergy of peace efforts successfully yielding partnerships with different peace organizations, hospitals and sponsors.  This youth organization decided that something had to be done to address the issue of peace by first truly connecting with people instead of merely telling them about it. These young peace advocates decided that there was no room to be angry. They decided that were going to be change itself.

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