As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity, the Department of Science and Technology Region II (DoST-II) gave 85 essential relief packs and 10 units of Multi-Purpose Drying facility on May 21 to 23 at Sitio Naguilian, Barangay Fuga Island.

Fuga is one of the islands located north of Luzon, part of the Babuyan Archipelago, and a far-flung barangay in Aparri, Cagayan. It is accessible by boat and is three to four hours from Claveria town.

DoST-II, though its Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program, facilitated the conduct of the Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) activity. The TNA was done to identify the science and technology needs of the community and to properly plan appropriate interventions through CEST.

The island is identified as a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area or GIDA with four elementary schools located in four different sitios. Due to economic difficulties, parents who can only afford to send their children to high school and college have the privilege to pursue their studies in the mainland, and those who aren't capable will just continue to help their parents in the island to find food to eat.

Fuga has been hampered by lack of education, livelihood opportunities and limited electricity service. The island is left to use solar energy donated by supporting institutions to light up the villages. Solar panels lower the price of electricity that enable the islanders to save more from their income to spend for essentials such as food and education, and also provide them greater connectivity through mobile phone charging, access to television, radio, and internet services.

The result of the TNA showed that there is a need for interventions in education and health and nutrition. With education as entry point, DoST-II strategized with the installation of the Science and Technology Research-Based Openly-Operated KioskS or StarbookS in elementary schools powered by solar panel and batteries. More than 400 students and teachers will benefit from the StarbookS and allow students better access to education tools.

Fuga Island, despite the limitations and challenges that the community faces, are determined to improve their lot and DOST-II, with its mandate to help marginalized communities, will continue to integrate S&T solutions in every community in the region and bring science closer to their hearts.