Computer-Laboratory - Internet-Cafe in Cabilao Island, Bohol, Philippines

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EVERYTHING'S POSSIBLE UNDER THE SUN

By: Leo P. Ylanan
Photos by: Lionel P. Maambong

I hadn't slept tight that Friday night thinking of the next morning when I and a couple of In CITE staffers, together with the project team of Solar Powered Net Café at Cabilao Bohol, will be going on board on Ocean Jet Liner all the way to Cabilao Island in Bohol. Also with us were some personnel of CITE, media practitioners, and bigwigs of such high-sounding companies like DED, GTZ, GATE, and the local officials.

We disembarked at the Tubigon port and boarded on a vehicle for hire bound for Talisay where small pump boats were waiting for us. From Talisay, the small island of Cabilao was already a sight. They would say it was a tongue-shaped island with beautiful resorts.

As we were boarding on a banka to Cabilao Island, my attention is playing on the green corals where fishes are gladly swimming as if they welcome us as their finest visitors. Who would ever think that an island so beautiful as Cabilao is deprived of the technological advancements. When we reached the Cabilao port, a motorcycle and a tricycle ferried us to our final destination, the Cabilao National High School, a typical rural high school which now serves as the beneficiary of the first solar-powered computer laboratory / net café. En route to the school, the place seemed to be a humdrum. You can only see very few people on the road. There seemed to be no people in the houses.

Why? I found the answer when we arrived at the school. All residents seemed to be gathered in the school ground all ready to witness the Inauguration of the Philippines' 1st Solar Powered Computer Laboratory/Net Café. The project is a consortium project between the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE) and the German Development Service with funding assistance from GTZ/Gate Germany and the Municipality of Loon. It was made a reality to give the youth of Cabilao the chance to become computer literates through basic computer literacy courses given during the day. Soon, the school would be able to teach non-IT courses through e-learning modules and to top it all, generate income for the school and the community as well by turning the lab as a commercial internet café after classes. In so doing, it would be able to sustain the overhead cost and the maintenance of the laboratory thus enables it to be of service to more beneficiaries in the future.

Smiles were seen on their faces. I can see that they're grateful for bringing technology to this once-neglected school. Indeed, they were very fortunate for this and I know that this project will change their way of living. After a grand reception, the computer laboratory was opened. I could see everyone was excited. As I breezed through a thick number of visitors, I was amazed how this project was brought to a remote area like Cabilao. The computer lab is an every school's dream. It was equipped with six all-new personal computers and two laser printers. Project brief and press releases are hanging everywhere that would somehow give you a feel of how these proponents must have loved the people of Cabilao very much. Everyone was excited to use the computers.

A noble project like a solar powered computer laboratory would surely find you quizzical. The place doesn't have its own power source.But with this project, they can now unlimited access to information technology through a technology that uses the sunlight to power laboratory. The laboratory comes with a solar equipment composed of 28 solar panels of 75 Wp each. From the solar panel, the light passes through an inverter and charged in 24 batteries lead to give power to the facility.

But more than the solar panels, it is the young people who were emotionally charged that time. The young people, though speechless, nailed their eyes on us with so much meaning that they wouldn't utter a word but "thank you".

I don't know why and how but I found my notebook and pen busy writing testimonies of the students in CNHS. "We're very fortunate for having this project because it serves as our ladder to achieve our ambition." This is the first statement that Marissa Massadas, 16, who told me that she was really excited with the project. It even opened my mind how fortunate I was when she said that it was her first time to touch on the keyboard of a computer. Her mother Carmelita was also thankful now that her child may be getting better education through the presence of computers in their school. I'm very thankful to the persons responsible for the project" Mrs. Massadas said.

I now realized that there were many people who were left out who need the help of the government and private sectors. If only we could replicate such project in all remote schools. Another student, Jerwin Cliff Lopez, told me that the project in their school encourages him and the rest of the students to strive more in their studies for them to achieve their ambitions, not only for them but for their family as well. "The Solar Powered Computer Laboratory Project in our island lifted us from the ignorance of industrialization and I know that sooner or later it will improve and develop our lives".

Jerwin confessed that he has somehow lost his interest in his studies and typical classroom discussion seemed to be a boredom. His mother, Mrs. Julieta Lopez was overwhelmed upon knowing that the project would unselfishly benefit every student of Cabilao. Jerwin's father Juvito Lopez, who was once an overseas worker but when he met an accident, prodded him to stay home at home, was also happy of this good news.

As we were on the boat routing away from Cabilao Island, I just noted that the sun was salmon. It must have been very hot that day. No wonder that the beach resorts are a surefire business in the said place. And foreigners continue to flock in to its atoll. But it could be that people were so zealous of this project that they look forward to each day now that it has provided them access to the technoworld. Thanks to the genuine cooperation of people who care for the welfare of others. Some were nameless and were working hard in the background but surely they contributed a lot to the success of a project deemed to last longer. I know that tomorrow Cabilao will rise and shine again and it is just but a beginning of brighter future that lies ahead for the small island. Everything's really possible under the sun. Find out how you can help by visiting www.cabilaosolarproject.net.