The local government unit was invited to attend an awarding ceremonies on nutrition in 2014 only to be self-humiliated, disgraced and embarrassed.
Of the 28 municipalities and one city in Cagayan province, Buguey, the so-called Crab Capital of the Philippines, was ranked Number 24. It was a humbling experience for the LGU team led by Mayor Lloyd Antiporda.
“It was a disgrace and the Mayor thought we should do something about it,” Councilor Adolfo Miranda, committee chair on nutrition shared the experience a day before Buguey was to accept its first-ever top plume award in nutrition in the provincial level.
The same year saw the organization of the local nutrition council which designated individuals who have knowledge on nutrition. Buguey went to work. In an evaluation, the committee discovered there have been errors in the gathering of data on weighs of children, kinder to Grade 3.
Mayor Antiporda and the nutrition council burned their midnight oil looking for a possible role model to be replicated after that dismal performance. Capas City in Tarlac was it. The city has been into providing lunch to school children in cooperation with a multi-national food chain in the area.
In a land where food is abundant, just what was the problem? Soon, the nutrition council discovered; Buguey was using the ordinary ‘ kitchen’ weighing scale to monitor weighs of children. It was the culprit.
Through the initiative of the Mayor, the Sangguniang Bayan immediately appropriated funds to purchase the Delecto weighing scale and distributed in all barangays through counter-parting.
“For barangays who can’t afford, we donated them,” Miranda said.
By 2016, the town piloted the School Lunch Program in five schools at Php18 per child under the supervision of highly trained technical individuals. Kitchen utensils were likewise provided.
The town went on a massive weighing activity to benchmark the data before the actual implementation of the project. Two weeks after the initial implementation, an improvement on the weight of children was noted. Today, the project is full blown as it is now implemented in all 30 barangays and two sitios.
Any day this year, the local government unit will purchase vehicles for the barangays for marketing and food delivery to schools, Miranda said.
Last week, Buguey received another invitation to attend a nutrition- award ceremony in Tuguegarao. The municipality, this tme with head up high coupled by a sweet grin, accepted the invitation from the Provincial Nutrition Council to attend an awarding ceremony. They didn’t hesitate. They know there will be no more humiliation or disgrace.
Four years after, they now lead Cagayan as the best nutrition program implementor.
In an online message yesterday, Mayor Antiporda vowed to continue what has been started and expressed his appreciation to the Sangguniang Bayan, the DepEd family and all Bugueyanos for the support they have extended to the local government unit if only for the welfare of the children.
Buguey, for all its worth, is a national winner in the Best Child Friendly Municipality in the Philippines under its own category.