Smiling at our own problems – this is one of the best characteristics of a typical Filipino. Despite the difficulties, tragedies and challenges thrown upon us, we never fail to stand up, curve a big smile and say,“Tuloy pa rin ang buhay.”

One sunny afternoon, few days after a super typhoon ravaged most of the properties of Cagayanos, our team led by Regional Director Sancho Mabborang travelled to Barangay Bical and Baliuag, Penablanca, Cagayan. Barangay Bical is said to be the ‘ground zero’ where Super Typhoon Lawin made its landfall on the 19th of October, at around 11 o’clock in the evening.

The behemoth typhoon rumbled Cagayan Valley Region with its gustiness of 315 kph and a diameter of 800 kilometers, stronger than Yolanda that hit Leyte in year 2013. In the region, Lawin destroyed more than P5-B crops and live stocks, a total of 33, 210 houses were severely damaged and about 152, 167 households are partially damaged based from the updated situational report of the Office of the Civil Defense Region 02. Cagayan is still lucky for only 6 casualties were reported. The few numbers of casualties was a result of a more prepared and resilient Region 02.

On our way to our destination, we just happened to notice this young boy with a genuine smile plastered on his face, as if telling us, “It’s okay, I can still manage to live and enjoy the world.”  

                                                                                                              

Who would have thought that he had been through a horrifying and painful experience at his very young age? Indeed, he is the best picture of Cagayanos showing the spirit of resilience, hope, faith and letting the world know how strong we are.

On both sides of the road, it was a heartbreaking scenery. Broken glasses, crushed house roofings and walls, uprooted trees, and wash-out rice plants were all you can see in the surroundings. It nearly looked like a ‘ghost town’ except there were noises coming from the on-going reconstruction of destroyed houses.

We have arrived at around 3:30pm in Barangay Hall of Bical. The team started pulling out 50 units of Ceramics Water Filter (CWF). These units were given to Barangay Captains Leonita M. Soriano and Milania T. Pamittan that will soon be distributed to the families in their small communities.

.

            Artisan well is the main source of potable drinking water in the area. CWF, on the other hand, will help improve the water quality making potable water safer and cleaner.

            Ceramics Water Filter is a project of the Department of Science and Technology initiated by former DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo. This aimed to address the increasing number of Filipino people especially those folks who belonged to the poorest of the poor communities in the country that do not have an access to clean potable drinking water.

            In the region, the CWF Production Center situated in Santa Maria, Isabela started its operation in 2015. The products of this center are sold to private entities, local government units, and government agencies amounting to P500.00 per unit. The Science Department also turned-over CWF to its adopted communities and barangays under the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology, another program of DOST.

            Both barangay captains were more than happy during the turnover of CWF in Bical Barangay Hall. It is a heart-melting scenario seeing people’s expression of how glad they are. All smiles, phones over their ears and cannot wait to relay to their people the good news and what their barangay captains have called the “blessing from above”.

            We might be experiencing the same agony, but DOST Region 02 will continue to be a blessing to others in need. Our department plans to distribute more water filters in different part of Cagayan who were greatly affected by Super Typhoon Lawin.

Aside from water filters, 600 ready-to-eat Chicken Arroz Caldo packs from DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) were turned over to the Provincial Local Government Unit of Cagayan for further distribution to the communities in need. Other agencies are also actively taking part in helping the Lawin victims by giving various relief goods, disaster response and rehabilitation and others. Together, we can surpass this challenge and bring back a better Cagayan. BANGON, CAGAYAN! (By KC D. Sucuano/DOST R02-PAI)