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Pag-asa islanders in epic battle with boredom

/ 06:42 PM May 28, 2014

Carlos Celdran leads a campaign drive for the people of Pag-asa island. Video from It’s no Fun in Pag-asa Facebook page

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Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—In the farflung Pag-asa Island, a small community that is vital to Philippine sovereignty, fighting boredom is an epic battle for many people here.

“Wala kaming [gaanong] leisure [dito] (We have scant sources of recreation here),” sighs Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr.

But some people have television sets in their homes, adds Bito-onon. People have to live with what they have and make the most of it, according to the mayor.

Pag-asa is the seat of the government of the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys) that is claimed by the Philippines and other neighboring countries.

Malaysia and Vietnam have built tourist resorts in their claimed areas. China built an administrative post to oversee its claims of almost the entire Spratlys. The Philippines maintains a community not only challenged with basic necessities but with boredom.

To some people, viewing the calm landscape of the island is getting tiresome. Instead they engage in playing billiards, basketball and volleyball for a change, Bito-onon said.

Grown-ups have jobs to keep. The male ones help in construction of facilities. Others are employed in the municipal hall. The women are taught livelihood means like food processing.

This coming school year, there are 19 enrollees in Pag-asa Elementary School. Bito-onon and the Philippine Coast Guard recently signed a memorandum that will allow PCG personnel that are also licensed teachers, to teach students starting June.

This year, Pag-asa produced its first elementary graduates, but Bito-onon said that the child already moved to a different town.

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A civilian group led by cultural activist Carlos Celdran recently launched an online campaign to help the people in Pag-asa “to let them know that the world hasn’t forgotten about them.”

Bito-onon’s team sent a list of their requested items to Celdran’s team, which “will greatly help” the community of about 100 people:

A. For Pag – Asa Elementary school:

1) K to 12 textbooks (Pre – School to Grade VI)

• ENGLISH textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

Grade 4 – 20 pcs

Grade 5 – 20 pcs

Grade 6 – 20 pcs

• MATH Textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

Grade 4 – 20 pcs

Grade 5 – 20 pcs

Grade 6 – 20 pcs

• FILIPINO Textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

Grade 4 – 20 pcs

Grade 5 – 20 pcs

Grade 6 – 20 pcs

• MTB – MLE Textbooks ( Mother Tongue)

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

Grade 4 – 20 pcs

Grade 5 – 20 pcs

Grade 6 – 20 pcs

• AralingPanlipunan Textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

• EDUKASYON SA PAGPAPAKATAO Textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

• MUSIC Textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

Grade 4 – 20 pcs

Grade 5 – 20 pcs

Grade 6 – 20 pcs

• ARTS Textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

Grade 4 – 20 pcs

Grade 5 – 20 pcs

Grade 6 – 20 pcs

• P.E. Textbooks

Grade 1 – 20 pcs

Grade 2 – 20 pcs

Grade 3 – 20 pcs

Grade 4 – 20 pcs

Grade 5 – 20 pcs

Grade 6 – 20 pcs

• STORY BOOKS Textbooks

Pre – School – 20 pcs

• COLORING BOOKS Textbooks

Pre – School – 20 pcs

• HEKASI Textbooks

Grade IV – 20 pcs

Grade V – 20 pcs

Grade VI – 20 pcs

• CHARACTER EDUCATION Textbooks

Grade IV – 20 pcs

Grade V – 20 pcs

Grade VI – 20 pcs

2) Computer (desktop with complete accessories) – 1 unit

3) Computer (laptop with complete accessories) – 1 unit

4) Audio Visual system (ACER) – 1 unit

5) Digital/ Video Camera – 1 unit

6) Uniforms (from Pre – School to Grade VI)

• Girls – white blouse & blue skirt

• Boys – white shirt & blue pants

• Preschool boys – white shirt & blue shorts

• P.E. Uniform – white shirt & red Jogging pants

7) Bags with School Supplies

8) Office Supplies/ Furniture & Fixtures:

• Bond paper (long & A4) – 10 reams each

• Illustration Board

• Blackboard – 4 units (standard size)

• Teacher Tables & Chair

• Filing Cabinet

9) Water Jug (5 liters)

10) Play/ Fitness gadgets equipment – for Pre school

B. For Community (inhabitants & residents of Pag –asa Island)

1) Fish Processing tools & Equipment (Livelihood)

• Vacuum packed Sealer

• Pressure Cooker with thermostat

• Gas Range with LPG tank

• Steamer (4 layers) – 5 sets

• Rice & Corn Grinder – 2 units

• Blender (heavy duty) – 3 units

• Oven

• Trays

• Chopping board

• Apron

• Hairnets

• Gloves

• Knives

• Weighing Scale

• Frying Pan

• Measuring Cap & Spoon

• Food Keeper (for Freezer purposes)

• Ladle

• Tongs

• Spatula

• Mortar

2) Fish net (size #6)

3) Nylon #

4) Goggles

5) Sewing Machine with Textile for curtains – 2 units

6) Sports Equipment

Those who wish to help may check out It’s no Fun in Pag-asa Facebook page and their online donation campaign page. They may send their donations to:

KIG MISSION HOUSE

1001 7th Street Patio Homes

Posadas, Sucat, Muntinlupa

Metro Manila, Philippines

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TAGS: Features, Global Nation, Kalayaan group of islands, Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr., Pag-asa Island, West Philippine Sea
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