Davao del Norte State College was in the 2nd day of its AACCUP Accreditation activity when CHED Commissioner Ruperto Sangalang entered the administration building last November 29, 2016.

All smiles – he greeted and pitched jokes around to lighten the obviously surprised yet still welcoming DNSC staff and students.

The commissioner was set to attend a forum in the school’s conference room, but before getting to the place, he dropped by different offices and shook hands with whom he called “hardworking people of the college”. He commended them for still being busy despite the time nearing five in the afternoon.
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Representatives from the college’s four institutes listened as the commissioner explained the relevance of techno-demo projects in generating income to state universities and colleges. He also updated them about the different issues swarming the SUCs’ Research and Extension Programs.

The college was briefed of CHED’s trajectory and how the agency really wanted to improve different extension programs, especially in fisheries and agriculture (by the way, DNSC was a former school of fisheries and still has a fisheries program as one of its flagship offerings). Displaying 05.jpg
Commissioner Sangalang already expressed his concerns on agriculture and fisheries while on the road with DNSC President Jonathan Bayogan and Professor Lemuel Cardona earlier that day. The two toured the commissioner in three different mangrove rehabilitation sites in Carmen and Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

Displaying 07.jpg Their first stopover was the Lovers’ Lane in Barangay J.P. Laurel. The group walked along the still under construction eco-tourism zone developed by the Local Government Unit of Panabo and home of DNSC’s mangrove and aquasilviculture initiatives. It was dubbed as the Lovers’ Lane because of its romantic appeal, from the cold and fresh air to the relaxing landscape brought about by the protected mangrove habitation.
Professor Cyril Ranara (another faculty) explained that the rehabilitation projects didn’t just spread awareness on the importance of mangroves in the nearby community, but has led to people acting together for the environment.

Through a pay per tree set-up, families had the chance to earn through cultivating propagules (young mangroves). From the college’s record, if one was able to plant a propagule, s/he would receive ₱3.50 per tree. Within the year of the project’s implementation, a total amount of more than ₱450,000 was paid to 16 beneficiaries from the Mangroves Producers Association (community-based) that planted 130,000 mangroves in J.P Laurel alone.

After visiting the lane, the group drove through more project areas in Barangay Cagangohan, still in Panabo. Commissioner Sangalang was exposed to the serene river and coastal lines of the city. This highlighted the significant role played by mangroves and different fisheries-related programs to the protection and as well as the growth of Panabo.

The group’s tour ended in a food terminal in the Municipality of Carmen, Davao del Norte. The terminal offered a heart-warming view of a recovering mangrove habitat protruding in the shoreline. The Catumbal Fisherfolk and Mudcrab Multi-Purpose Association (CAFIMMA) were key players for the restoration of the rich marine habitat in the area and in the management of the food terminal which offered fresh fishes and crabs.
While on the trip, the commissioner raised a mind-boggling question, “How can we encourage farmers’ or fishers’ children and agricultural or fisheries students to really go back to farming and fishing?” With the decreasing number of farmers and fishing folks, our food production capacity is also in danger.

Then he became more specific and asked for names of DNSC fisheries program alumni who became successful fisher-entrepreneurs. Prof. Cardona proudly named three (and there could be more!) former students whose lives changed for the better because of really practicing their vocations. The three were thought to have established businesses of their own and created names for themselves in the fisheries sector.

The commissioner encouraged the president to publish stories about these alumni so that the world would know that success could still be achieved through fishing and farming. He added that his hopes were renewed – as long as there were success stories, efforts and gambles for the sectors would be worth taking.

And it wasn’t just Commissioner Sangalang who became inspired that day, DNSC also. The college welcomed not just an old friend but a committed ally in making sure that agricultural and fishing communities survive, with the help of college-initiated research and extension projects. (end,CNL)

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