by Zarina Isla-Villadolid
After a year of implementation, the My Lake Lanao Project (MLLP) culminated in a summit attended by more than eighty environmental activists, academic researchers, NGO leaders, local government officials, community leaders, and students on February 2-3, 2017 at Plaza Alemania, Iligan City.
The summit showcased the successful collaboration among the academe, non-governmental organizations, and communities in implementing the project, which was funded by the US Embassy in Manila and spearheaded by the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in partnership with Abag Kalambuan, Inc., to address environmental conservation and poverty alleviation.
With the aid of baseline data gathered by CASS academic researchers for select communities in the Lake Lanao watershed area and through their articulation of inclusive, evidence-based, and educational models of community development, partner organizations were able to implement ten community projects in five municipalities in Lanao del Sur. Key community people, with the help and guidance of CASS, crafted their own project proposals in December 2015.
During the summit, Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation, Inc. (AMDFI), Inspired Young Optimists Guild (IYOG), ABAG Kalambuan, Inc., Dansalan College Alumni Association (1DC), and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Mindanao State University (MSU) presented their respective projects which involved vermi composting, abaca production, agro-reforestation, tarpaulin recycling, and cage farming among others.
Aside from these community projects which mainly target conservation and livelihood generation, an awareness campaign on the critical role of Lake Lanao as a cultural heritage and an economic resource was also conducted by the MLLP Team and its advocacy partners.
Sixteen-year-old Nur Dadayan’s Ranao Monster was published as a large format children’s book illustrated by Engr. Aisha Zaleha G. Latip. The book, which was launched during the summit, will be distributed to elementary schools in the province to help children realize the importance of conserving the lake. The creation of the said project was spearheaded by MSU Department of Communication and Media Studies Prof. Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph.
The winning entries for the Film/Video Making Contest were also shown during the summit. Each of the two teams of students received a cash prize of PhP 10,000.00. Their films will be shown in various schools in Lanao del Sur.
Another project under MLLP’s awareness campaign was the Participant Teachers’ Training wherein DepEd teachers from 37 schools in the division of Marawi City and the first and second districts of Lanao del Sur were trained by MLLP advocacy partner MSU College of Education, headed by Prof. Hadji Rocaya M. Naga, in generating school-based action plans for conserving and preserving Lake Lanao and in integrating them into the curriculum.
Through a video message, U.S. Embassy in Manila’s Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klecheski commended the MLLP Team and pointed out the cultural, social, environmental, and economic significance of Lake Lanao.
“[One of the things] we really like is that this project found the proper balance between protection of the environment and promoting livelihood for the people around the Lake,” he added.
CASS Dean Prof. Marie Joy D. Banawa lauded the collective effort to develop sustainable community-driven responses to thwart the deterioration of Lake Lanao and to alleviate the living conditions of the different communities around the lake. She encouraged the partners to sustain their respective initiatives.
“While this summit marks the culmination of My Lake Lanao Project, our quest for a clean Lanao for a peaceful Mindanao does not end here. As we go back to our respective communites, let us continue with our efforts to save Lake Lanao,” she urged.