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  • Paolo Tanchuling

#IdeasPositiveRun5: Beacons of Change, Rays of Hope in Sitio Parola Pt.2



Besides sharing labors, Team Catalysts and the Sitio Parola residents also share joys. “Ang sarap matulog sa gabi na alam mong yung tulong mo ay gumagana at yung community ay masaya,” Lady shares. “Kung ngiting tagumpay sila, e mas ngiting tagumpay din sa amin, na kahit papaano, naapektuhan namin si

Aquaponics: cultivation in tandem

An important component of AKBAYAN is aquaponics. It combines aquaculture – cultivating fish or other aquatic organisms; and hydroponics – growing plants in nutrient-rich water and gravel instead of soil. An aquaponic system functions as a miniature ecosystem where the waste products of fish are converted by bacteria into nourishment for plants above, which keeps the water habitable for the fish below, in a continuing cycle. Once it is up and running, it is largely self-sufficient, says Jolo, requiring only fish feeds, constantly circulating water, and daily maintenance.


For Sitio Parola, aquaponics is encouraged to grow kangkong, which can serve as a source of dietary iron; and tilapia fingerlings, which the families can sell for extra income. Four aquaponic structures are now being run by different volunteer households. They provide for six families each, totaling a baseline of 24 families whose members have anemia. These families are assigned maintenance duties and harvesting privileges on different days.

Setting an example through sharing back

The name of Sitio Parola is appropriately symbolic of the labors shared by Team Catalysts and the area’s residents. Jolo explains: “A lighthouse is a beacon. In-aim namin na ang Sitio Parola ay maging beacon sa ibang community na may mga problem na katulad nito… na mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang Sitio Parola na magbago… maging parola tagala, para makita ng ibang community na kaya din pala nila ito.


While communities can be likened to beacons of hope and change, the comparison also holds at the individual level. The hosts of the aquaponic systems have been dubbed “community heroes” by the team. Beverly Causapin, a 29-year-old mother of two, has become known as the sitio’s “aquaponics expert” who troubleshoots the systems when needed. During our visit, she proudly shared that she has already started harvesting kangkong for her family. Adora Sumalinog, 37, not only co-runs their system, she also lends the small space behind her house for community gatherings or laboratory sessions by Team Catalysts when needed. Thelma Serafino, 54, wowed the team by building her system on her own initiative with the help of her 13 children! And Alfredo Adrias volunteered to host the 4th and final pilot system in his house despite not being among the 24 families in the program, “Para makita ng mga tao at ma-engganyo sila.


Besides sharing labors, Team Catalysts and the Sitio Parola residents also share joys. “Ang sarap matulog sa gabi na alam mong yung tulong mo ay gumagana at yung community ay masaya,” Lady shares. “Kung ngiting tagumpay sila, e mas ngiting tagumpay din sa amin, na kahit papaano, naapektuhan namin sila.


Through their involvement in Project Akbayan, the members of Team Catalysts and the people of Sitio Parola are working together to overcome challenges. As individuals and as part of a group, they are acting as beacons for others to follow, while building a healthier Philippines, one community at a time.

Paolo Tanchuling is a freelance writer, and ULF's very first #healthierPH Correspondent. An Internet-savvy, book loving, history buff, Paolo graduated from University of the Philippines Diliman, with a double degree majoring in Journalism and History. This article is part of the #IdeasPositiveRun5 series, which documents the transformation of 14 communities through innovative ideas of 14 youth teams. Follow their story as they build a healthier Philippines, one community at a time! Visit the Ideas Positive official Facebook Page.

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