SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union: Two regional nominees from Region 1 placed first in the 2022 National Literacy Awards (NLA).

During the awarding ceremony on Thursday evening, members of the national literacy evaluation team proclaimed the Kasama Kita sa Barangay Foundation Inc. of Bayambang, Pangasinan as the first place winner for the Outstanding Literacy Program category and the municipality of Bacnotan, La Union as the champion under the 1st to 3rd class municipality category.

Both winners received a cash prize of P100,000 each and a plaque of recognition.

Other awardees at the national level are the municipality of Natividad, Pangasinan (second placer under the 4th to 6th class municipality category) and Alaminos City, Pangasinan (fourth placer under the independent component and component city category).

The local government unit (LGU) of Natividad received a cash prize amounting to P80,000 and a plaque of recognition while LGU-Alaminos City got a P40,000 cash prize and a plaque of recognition.

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In her message, Mayor Divina Fontanilla of Bacnotan, La Union expressed her sincerest gratitude to the Department of Education (DepEd) through its Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) for the prestigious award bestowed to her municipality.

"I'm deeply honored to receive the award on behalf of my constituents. The awarding ceremony is the beginning of the challenge. The real test is in practicing excellence in all the things that we do even when no one is looking, and doing it all the time and every time until it becomes a habit," Fontanilla said.

"This award belongs to our hardworking constituents, who work closely with the LGU with a common purpose and a shared vision for all of the 47,258 Bacnotanians," she added.

Vice President Sara Duterte, also the DepEd secretary, graced virtually the awarding rites with the presence of the ranking DepEd officials.

Meanwhile, Dr. Antonio Laceste Jr., DepEd-Region 1 NLA coordinator, expressed his sincerest gratitude to the members of the 2022 Regional Literacy Evaluation Team for their efforts in polishing the regional entries for the NLA.

The team was composed of Philippine Information Agency-Region 1 Assistant Regional Director Freddie Lazaro; Dr. Cedric Anthony Ochoco, head of Teacher Education of the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University-Mid La Union Campus; Mark Casigna of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Region 1; and Mariz Dafnae Mendoza of the National Economic and Development Authority-Region 1.

The NLA is an initiative of the DepEd, through the LCC, to recognize the best literacy practice of the LGUs and nongovernment organizations that will help improve literacy, alleviate poverty, and livelihood provision.

It envisions sustaining, expanding, and institutionalizing literacy efforts by motivating and recognizing individuals, institutions, and LGUs through awards and appropriate recognition.

Launched in 1994 by the LCC, the NLA is a biennial program conducted every other year in conjunction with the celebration of National Literacy Week (September 2-8) and International Literacy Day (September 8).