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.
by Rex Godinez Ortega, OC and Ian S. Embradura, OPI
“Our presence here shows the importance of this project.”
These were the words of Dr. Filemon A. Uriarte, Jr., President of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), after he signed the Memorandum of Agreement with MSU-IIT for the conduct of the first of three initial projects under an historic research program on Lake Lanao.
Uriarte, along with NRCP Executive Director Carina G. Lao and the entire Governing Board of the highest research body of the Philippines, were at the Mini-Theater of MSU-IIT on August 1, 2015 for the MOA signing and for the launching of the program “Comprehensive Studies on Lake Lanao for Sustainable Development”.
“If we are going to support these projects, we might as well support them not just in token but in a very strong way,” Uriarte was quoted as saying in late June when he and the NRCP approved for funding the proposal to conduct the flagship program on the Philippines’ highest and second largest lake.
During the launching ceremonies at the Mini-Theater, the NRCP gave recognition to Dr. Franco G. Teves, MSU-IIT’s Director for Research, for conceptualizing the Lake Lanao Project.
Teves is an immediate past chair of the NRCP Mindanao Cluster, and the one who submitted the initial proposal for the project.
Speaking at the Mini-Theater, Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol of MSU-IIT expressed his thanks to the NRCP for trusting the Institute in leading such a significant pursuit.
Tanggol, as Chancellor, is the head of the first project under the historic program.
This first project, which will take two years to complete, is a study on the “Socio-economic and Political Dimensions of Lake Lanao”.
The project aims to emphasize on the dynamics of the activities and attitudes of upland, lowland, and lakeshore community settlers in their use of the lake as a source of water.
Tanggol described the entire program as “a landmark program for the sustainability of Lake Lanao, not only to its environs but to the whole of Mindanao.”
“Who is not a stakeholder?” Tanggol asked referring to the pervading influence of Lake Lanao not only in the two lanao provinces but in the entire island of Mindanao.
Lake Lanao lies at the core of Mindanao’s power needs, supplying 75% of the electricity through the seven Agus hydroelectric power plants that start from the mouth of the lake down to Iligan City where MSU-IIT is located.
The MOA signing and launching ceremonies was then followed by a forum that was participated in by various local government units from both Lanao provinces, acting Iligan Mayor Ruderic Marzo, non-government organizations, academic institutions, and researchers.
During the forum, Pip Naga of the Save Lake Lanao Movement (SALLAM), gave an overview of the present condition of the lake and the actions being undertaken to preserve it.
Naga also expressed his full support, in behalf of SALLAM, in the realization and actualization of the flagship research program.
The second and third projects under the program, “Comprehensive Studies on Lake Lanao for Sustainable Development,” will be conducted by aquatic biologist, Dr. Carmelita G. Hansel, and fisheries expert, Dr. Sherwin Nacua. Both are from MSU-Marawi.
Hansel’s one-year study is called, “Physical and Chemical Characterization of Lake Lanao”. It aims to provide important data in view of the current physical and chemical factors of the Lake in an effort to assess the lake’s present ecological integrity and health.
Nacua, on the other hand, will try to determine the present population status of the indigenous, endemic and introduced species in Lake Lanao in an effort to protect and conserve the lake’s threatened species.
This study by Nacua, which also has a one year term, is called, “Lake Lanao Fishery Resource Assessment: Population Survey, Reproductive and Morphometric Characterization of Endemic and Introduced Fishes of Lake Lanao and Immediate Aquatic Environs.”
Emphasizing the “comprehensiveness” of the research program, Uriarte said, “it cannot be sustainable unless we attend to the social, economic, cultural, and environmental aspects of the area.”
“When one element is absent, no matter how long we do it, there will be no improvement and it’s the same thing with sustainable development,” Uriarte explained.
After the launching and MOA signing in MSU-IIT, the members of the NRCP Governing Board visited the MSU main campus in Marawi City. They were treated to lunch hosted by the MSU Office of the President at the VIP Lounge where the guests had their first glimpse of Lake Lanao.
Later in the afternoon, Chancellor Tanggol escorted the members of the Governing Board to get an up-close view of the lake from the shore.From Lake Lanao, the group headed back to Iligan where they ended their tour with a visit to Maria Cristina Falls, which is the last stop of the Agus river before it drains to the sea.
The NRCP Governing Board had arrived in Iligan a day earlier and held its board meeting at the Cheradel Suites. This was then followed by a brief tour at Mimbalot Falls and the Iligan City Hall.
On the evening of July 31, the Institute hosted a Pagana Maranao for the members of the Governing Board to formally welcome them to MSU-IIT.
In preserving and developing the sociocultural and ecological integrity of Lake Lanao, the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) has approved three projects for funding on the study of Lake Lanao for the Mindanao State University System. One of these projects is headed by Dr. Sukarno D. Tanggol, Chancellor of the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) in Iligan City.
Members of the NRCP Governing Board will be in MSU-IIT for an out of town meeting on July 31, 2015 and a MOA signing between the NRCP and the MSU-IIT, and the launching of the project is on August 1, 2015 at the MSU-IIT.
The two-year project for the MSU-IIT is entitled Socio-economic and Political Dimensions of Lake Lanao. It aims to emphasize the dynamics of the activities and attitudes of upland, lowland, and lakeshore community settlers in their use of the lake as a source of water.
“We speak of people whose lives are dependent on the lake,” Tanggol says. “The M’ranaos, or ‘the people of the lake’, are very much tied to the body of water in its immediate environment”.
Lake Lanao is one of the deepest freshwater lakes in the country and one of the major tropical lakes in Southeastern Asia according to David G. Frey’s study on the limnology or the study of the biological, chemical and physical features of the lake. Its outlet is the Agus River which drains into the Iligan Bay through the Maria Cristina Falls and the Linamon Falls of Lanao del Norte. It is the reservoir for the Agus Hydroelectric power plants of the National Power Corp. that generates about 60-65 per cent of power for the entire Mindanao.
The lake is likewise a source of livelihood and food (fish and prawns) and a transportation highway for the residents of Lanao del Sur.
Chancellor Tanggol also mentioned that through the project, recommendations can be submitted over the management of the lake and its watershed especially in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) discussions whether or not the management of the lake and its watershed will be by the national government, the Bangsamoro or the local government unit.
The project speaks of MSU-IIT’s realization of its mission to become excellent in research in extension, two of its prime mandates apart from instruction. Chancellor Tanggol hopes that this project will help the national government through collaborative efforts between the people, the academe and concerned public and private entities.