By Coores E. Celoy

Sitio Lao-angan, a remote place in barangay Gadang in Kapangan, Benguet rejoiced as students and faculty members from the Department of Development Communication (DDC) in Benguet State University (BSU) conducted an outreach activity in their community on April 13, 2019.

This sitio is situated in a foot of a mountain. It has a small population of around 230. To reach this place, one has to ride a jitney from Dangwa Square at Km. 6 in Betag, La Trinidad, in front of BSU. After a two-hour ride, the jump-off point stars at the barangay hall of Barangay Gadang in Kapangan. Thereafter, one has to walk for three hours before reaching a small school in the barrio, Lao-angan Barrio School. The school has only three rooms where pupils, from Grades one to six, take turn in their schedule to accommodate all of them.

There’s more. To reach the heart of the sitio, where the residents are, one has to descend for another one hour walk. Here, the community thrives on farming rice and camote (sweet potato), both for subsistence and additional income. Accordingly, much as they want to venture on farming as their main source of income, they can’t. A big percentage of their soil is not viable for farming.

As one goes around the sitio, one can easily notice a small store filled with snacks, canned goods, and other basic goods such as sugar, salt, and soap. This is the only store in the sitio. For those who wish to gain additional income, they carry goods from Central Kapangan to their place. From this, they are paid around twelve pesos to thirteen pesos per kilo of goods for a four-hour hike.

Due to this characteristic of sitio Lao-angan, it was chosen as the beneficiary of this year’s DDC’s Loving Out Loud (LOL) and Storytelling Caravan (STC), extension activities of the department through the Development Communication Society (DCS).

“This sitio lacks resources. They barely have a source of income to sustain their living,” said Michelle B. Gatab-Laruan, DCS Adviser.

After coordination with the sitio and the barangay, the group started their donation drive. Several individuals such as Dev Com alumni, faculty members, and other groups, intimated their support to the cause by giving school supplies, toys, clothes, food, and medicine.

The group was able to collect 36 sacks and 20 boxes of mixed items and goods.

These donations were carried from the barangay hall to Lao-angan barrio school. The residents from the sitio came to the jump-off point and helped in carrying the goods. It was noticeable that most of those who came to carry the goods were women and children. Accordingly, their husbands were at work either in the trading post as “comboys” or kargador, or in the mining areas, or in a “purdiya” in vegetable gardens in nearby municipalities.

Aside from giving goods to the community, storytelling caravan and games were also conducted for the children in the sitio.

“We are so blessed and thankful to BSU-DevCom for choosing our community for this outreach program,” Mario Tubias expressed, Barangay Kagawad of Gadang.//


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