Ever wonder what a seventeen-year-old can do to help a community during the pandemic? Alliah Nicole T. Sayo is a high school student at Ilocos Sur National High School who started the Sagut Ti Panagayat: Tulong Para Kadagiti Tattao (Kutchero Ken Turismo), a COVID-19 fundraising initiative for Kutcheros and Tour Guides in Ilocos Region.
Prior to launching the fundraising, Alliah has been attending committee hearings regarding the new normal education at the capitol as a youth representative. As a youth representative, she created a group chat for the Supreme Student Governments from the three divisions, namely Vigan City Division, Candon City Division, and Ilocos Sur Division, for the sole purpose of giving them updates regarding the committee hearings. One time she met someone from Red Cross who told her about their initiatives for the frontliners. With a passion to help their community, Alliah immediately reached out to her fellow student leaders via the group chat and introduced her idea.
“Ginawa ko to para doon sa group chat ay maupdate ko sila sa mga nangyayare sa hearing then one time may kasama ako sa isang org. na si Ma’am Veronica Tacbas na mula sa Red Cross Ilocos Sur Chapter and nalaman ko na may fundraising sila for the frontliners. Noong nalaman ko yon, nagkaroon ako ng idea na pwede din naming itong gawin kaya nagtanong ako sa group chat namin ng mga gustong sumali sa bubuoin kong fundraising.”
“I created a group chat so that I can give updates to my fellow student leaders in [Ilocos Region] about the committee hearings. One time, I met Ma’am Veronica Tacbas from Red Cross Ilocos Sur Chapter and she shared with me their fundraising initiative for the frontliners. Right after, I came up with an idea to also launch one [fundraising] so I asked my fellow student leaders in the group chat who would be interested to join.”Alliah Nicole T. Sayo
Choosing a community
After her fellow student leaders agreed to her idea, they immediately set up a zoom meeting to discuss and execute the project. Alliah, together with her team chose kutcheros and tour guides as their beneficiary. When asked why they chose kutcheros and tour guides as their beneficiary, Alliah shared with us that she saw first-hand how the tourism industry was hit in their region. From the usually busy streets with packed visitors to lonely and silent streets with no tourists, leaving the kutcheros and tour guides vulnerable.
The Ilocos Region is a top tourist destination for its vast and unique activities for every tourist. You can visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, grab unique delicacies like the Vigan longganisa and Ilocos empanada, ride a 4×4 and slide down the sand dunes, or enjoy the beach. As a top tourist destination, the region receives millions of visitors each year.
“Mostly ang mga nakikita naming fundraising ngayon ay para sa frontliners pero nakita naming na yung ibang naapektuhan ng pandemya ay hindi din nabibigyang pansin katulad ng mga kutchero and tour guides na minsan ay tinatawag din naming na backliners kasi malaki ang naitutulong nila sa ekonomiya naming lalo na sa tourism industry.”
“Most of the fundraising initiatives that we saw are for the frontliners, but we saw that there are also other people who are affected by the pandemic who do not get any attention like the kutcheros and tour guides. We also call them the backliners for their significant contribution to our economy, especially in the tourism industry.”Aliah Nicole T. Sayo
She knew that these people rely on tourism as their major source of income and with the lockdowns and the closing of borders imposed, they lose their jobs. They are not the only affected, but also their families who rely on that income. To further understand their chosen community, they reached out to the Ilocos Sur Provincial Tourism Development and Promotion Office for data and statistics and to kutcheros and tour guides to know their current situation. These backliners or tourism heroes usually earn 150 to 300 PHP per hour, but due to pandemic, their job was temporarily lost.
Launching the Project
The team launched their project last 2nd of July 2020 on Facebook, together with the Ilocos Sur Provincial Tourism Development and Promotion Office, Samahan ng Kabataang Boluntaryo ng Pilipinas, Online Ukay Redesigned for SDGs, and with us, Conversations to the World as official partners. They posted their publication materials and shared it to different networks, reached out to possible donors, and partnered with the local government unit.
This initiative was also featured on PTV News Ylocos, a local government television network, Philippine Information Agency – Ilocos Sur, a local government media arm, Ciudad Vigan News Patrol, a local TV network of the City Government of Vigan, and DWRS Commando Radio Global, a commercial broadcast station in Ilocos.
The Youth’s Impact
The group consists of 12 student-leaders in the Ilocos Region, most of them are in high school. They are Alliah Nicole T. Sayo (17) from Ilocos Sur National High School, Miles Angel O. Cabading (16) from Vigan National High School East, Rexcel Isaiah A. Enriquez (17) from St. Paul College of Ilocos Sur, Alyssa Jane Suyat (17) from Vigan National High School West, Jan Nazarene T. De La Cruz (18) from Divine Word College of Vigan, Aaron Gerry L. Apalis (16) from Ilocos Sur National High School, Patrick Jayson U. Yabut (19) from Far Eastern University, Godwin Hatchette O. Hignight (17) from Sto. Tomas National High School, Rema Agunan (17) from North Luzon Philippine State College, Jan Walter Cardenas (18) from Saint Louis University, Shiela Marie N. Cabrales (23) a Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman from Purok A Bassit, Vigan City, and Florence Sophia M. Cabatu (18) from Saint Louis University.
They will be providing grocery packs and masks to the community. The grocery pack has canned goods, noodles, bread, rice, and basic condiments. One of their condiments, salt, was brought from a local salt business in San Vicente. The team did this to help the local salt industry in their region who is facing a challenge in terms of selling their products because tourists were not yet allowed to visit. Not only they were able to provide grocery packs for their chosen community, but they were also able to help a local business community.
“Ang purpose ng fundraising na ito ay hindi lang matulungan yung mga beneficiaries kundi pati na rin yung mga local business community dito.”
“The purpose of our fundraising is not only to help our beneficiaries, but also a local community business here [in Ilocos Region].”Alliah Nicole T. Sayo
The young team worked hand in hand and as a result, they were able to help 146 Kutcheros and 23 Tour Guides. As of August 27,2020, they have raised PHP 26, 781 and received 100 pieces of Washable Face Masks from Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Christopher Baterina and 15 sacks of rice from Governor Ryan Luis V. Singson and from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur, which will be distributed to 169 families on the 3rd of September 2020. Alliah also invites everyone to read and share their posts, so others will be able to see it.
“Kahit gaano man kaliit ang tulong para sa atin, kapag pinagsama sama natin ito, marami ang matutulungan.”
“No matter how small our help is [for us], if we combine it all together, we can help many people.”Alliah Nicole T. Sayo
It only took Alliah a desire to help a community and her young team’s hard work to help 169 families. A proof that we, the youth, can create change even when we were stuck at home.
On September 3, 2020, the team successfully distributed the food packs to 169 families. The distribution was made possible with the help of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur.
Thank you to everyone who supported our COVID-19 Fundraising for our Kutchero and Tour Guides in Ilocos Region. Your generosity and kindness helped us to distribute food packs to 169 Families.
Watch the distribution here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/v=750909932422294&extid=Lt4TGu6IpLOiJn1L
Photo credits: PTV Ylocos Facebook Page
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