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  • Adrienne Dy

#IdeasPositiveRun5: Innovation and dedication: The Blueprint for success

Team Blueprint proves that the old adage is true: If at first, you don’t succeed, try again.

High up in the mountains of Carcar City, Cebu, a single-lane dirt road leads to a small community called Tagaytay. Unlike its namesake in Luzon which teems with tourists, the sitio is isolated and almost inaccessible. Despite this, the tiny corner of Barangay Can-asujan has grown close to the hearts of five young individuals – Warren Flores, Reina Requieron, Niño Iligan, Chole Taboada and Meossa Medallo, who call themselves Team Blueprint.

How close to their hearts, you ask? Enough to make the team vie a second time for a chance to uplift the lives of the residents. The team sent an entry for Ideas Positive Run 4, but only made it as far as the live screening at the time.

“After that, we doubted if we should be here in Can-asujan at all. We thought, should we continue this? Maybe we should choose a nearer community with an easier problem to solve,” Warren admits. “But I realized it’s not really about that. As long as a problem persists, we should work more. Di namin sila maiwan-iwanan (We could not leave them).”

The problem of the community is relatively simple – they lack access to clean water. As a consequence, students in the community school could not use the toilets or wash their hands, which made them practice open urination and defecation, ultimately leading to sickness. The only alternative for them was to trek 2 kilometers to the nearest water source, and carry gallons of water back up the mountain to the school, says Farrah Boltron, the principal of Tagaytay Elementary School. Not only was it physically exhausting for the students, it also ate up time meant for them to learn. “If it rains, they can’t access the water source,” she adds.

Enter Team Blueprint’s W.A.S.H.E.D. U.P. Can-asujan (Water Adequacy, Sanitation and Hygiene Education to Uplift People of Barangay Can-asujan). The original plan for a cement tank was both too costly and not a good fit for the community. So the engineering students came up with a PET bottle tank model, which utilizes used plastic bottles filled with sand and soil in lieu of poured cement. The innovation and dedication they showed landed them a spot among the finalists this Run 5 – but unknown to the Ideas Positive judges, Team Blueprint had already started collecting PET bottles anyway. “In or not, we were ready to implement. The time is now,” they declared.

To help keep costs low, they sought the help of the students themselves. “Dati, kulang kami sa tubig, hindi namin magamit ang CR… nangangamoy. Nagkaka-diarrhea at skin disease ang mga estudyante (Before, we lacked water, so we couldn’t use the comfort room… it stank. Students were getting diarrhea and skin diseases),” recalls Angelica Tangaja, a Grade 10 student and head of the Supreme Student Government (SSG). So when Team Blueprint presented their idea, they were eager to help.

“Every weekend, pumupunta kami. Nakakapagod pero makikita mo talaga yung impact (Every weekend, we’d come to help. It was tiring, but you could really see the impact),” Angelica shares. When the campaign to collect PET bottles started, everyone was so enthusiastic that they were able to collect more than what they needed. The resulting tank, built mostly through the students’ efforts, is now double the intended size.

Jessa Saraum, Angelica’s best friend who is also on the SSG’s Board of Directors, shares that Team Blueprint’s PET bottle tank is “a legacy, gawa namin ‘to. Na-cclaim ng mga students … (This is our legacy, we made it. We can claim it as our own). It serves as a daily challenge and inspiration [to us]. After this project, I’m sure Tagaytay will be healthier than before.”

Team Blueprint thinks so, too. To ensure the sustainability of the project, they also launched Wash education, a campaign to teach proper hygiene and sanitation. They also founded the Wash Club, with representatives from each grade level, to lead the advocacy in the team’s absence. “At first, the students were shy, but with time, sila pa ang nag-eencourage sa mga classmates nila (with time, they were the ones encouraging their fellow students). Even we learn from them,” says Warren.

Ultimately, though, it is the spirit of determination and bayanihan that will see the project through. “May kulang sila, pero hindi sila mahirap (They may be lacking in some aspects, but they are not poor),” says Warren. He and the rest of the team know that the community is rich in what it takes to make positive change happen – and last for a long, long time.

As it turns out, Sitio Tagaytay had the blueprint of success all along; it just took a group of unfazed young people willing to take second chances to bring it to life.

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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