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The National Nutrition Council in Region II has set a record for itself; it is the only government line agency in the region which consistently used a Tuguegarao icon for its advocacy campaign, the environment-friendly Kalesa.
For the last seven years or so, NNC believed in the effectivity of the Kalesa as a rolling billboard. While it is a cheap medium of communication, its cultural significance can never be contested. For a line agency like NNC, that would be shooting two birds in one bullet- savings for the government and contributory to the preservation of the Cagayano culture and traditions.
The Kalesa is a cultural heritage and NNC is one of the very few agencies which realized early the significant role it plays in the everyday lives of the residents. Eloisa Mabborang who did an in-depth report on the mode of transport for her diploma for the National Commission on Culture and the Arts said the Tuguegarao Kalesa is distinct from those in other parts of the country.
It is open ten-seater ride, has two rubberized wheels, two benches facing each other and bamboo floors. The body is made of galvanized sheets and the front part has a smaller wooden bench where the cochero and two other passengers can sit. The bench doubles as a box where the cochero keeps his tools and other personal belongings.
It is the galvanized body of the Kalesa where NNC maximized its advocacy campaign all these years.
Maria Gisela M. Lonzaga, Officer-In-Charge, Nutrition Program Coordinator of NNC Region II said they have been maximizing such folk mode of transport as their medium for nutrition and health messages.
“Our Kalesa- painting project is, in fact, multi-dimensional. While we got a perfect medium for all our advocacy campaign, we were able to showcase the artistry of our local students at the same time contributed to the preservation of culture through such mass-based transport,” she tells Arapang.
Admittedly, for some reasons or another, NNC admitted that only a few recognizes the potent role of the Kalesa in mass communications.
The project ‘Nutrition Kalesa Painting Contest’ was launched as the initial activity of the then newly -organized Balay Ni Ifan media organization in 2010. Every member-media entity was asked to enter the competition assigning student-artists from the secondary schools in Tuguegarao City.
During the parade of the Kalesa to coincide with the Nutrition Month Celebration that year, staff of the media entities boarded the transport. Unknown to NNC, they have written their own history as the first NNC office in the country to conduct such activity vis-à-vis cultural preservation. It was then the administration of Rhodora G. Maestre, Nutrition Program Coordinator.
For Aristotel Cabang, then a second-year student of the Linao National High School, it was a challenging and an unforgettable experience. He painted the Kalesa entry of MBC-DZRH which easily won the nod of the board of judges as the best-painted Kalesa interpreting the message of NNC.
“I did the Kalesa for NNC but it was out of competition. That event opened doors for me as a secondary student,” Cabang, who is now reviewing for his Licensure Examinations for Teachers, recalls.
Like Cabang, student-artists have learned a lot on nutrition while painting the Kalesa. They said one must understand the message to interpret the theme through the brush.
John Nestor L. Ballad, a staff of NNC said the competition this year highlighted the theme “Healthy Diet, Gawing Habit-FOR LIFE” specifically aimed at improving the nutritional status, productivity and quality of life of the population through adoption of desirable dietary practices and healthy lifestyle.
He added that since 2010, a total of 120 Kalesas in both Tuguegarao and Solana have been painted.
“We hope to paint more than 200 Kalesas plying Tuguegarao and who knows, the other Kalesas in Cagayan and Isabela?” he says.
For Eddie who owns the winning Kalesa painted by Cabang in 2010, he hasn’t change the paintings on his Kalesa. “Remembrance ku kan NNC,” Eddie says.
Today, NNC has successfully provided not only a colorful mode of transport but likewise educating Cagayanos on the importance of good nutrition. In Kalesa, NNC earned its advocacy trophy, also, ‘FOR LIFE.’ Northernforum.net