By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Both the province and city of Iloilo have secured their spots as finalists for the Galing Pook Awards 2023, an award conferred on the local government units with outstanding initiatives and is worthy of emulation.
The Iloilo provincial government’s campaign of “Mobilizing Communities through People-Centered Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) Movement towards a Sustainable Sanitation in the Province of Iloilo” is an inch away from being recognized as one of the local government units with the best innovative practices.
“It is a fundamental health program. Importante sa MorProGRess Iloilo is our human resource, and importante sa human health is ang aton nga tawo […] The zero open defecation program strikes at the very heart of [sanitation],” Defensor said in a press conference on August 30.
The Department of Health in November 2022 declared Iloilo as the first province in Western Visayas and the third in the country to achieve a Grade 1 (G1) or zero open defecation (ZOD) status.
A ZOD Grade 1 status means that “households have stopped practicing open defecation and are using sanitary toilet facilities and no human feces are openly visible or exposed to the environment.”
A UNICEF report emphasized that over 2 million women, men, and children in the province have abandoned open defecation, which led to a decrease in the cases of acute watery diarrhea and acute gastroenteritis.
UNICEF first introduced ZOD to the province after the onslaught of the Super Typhoon Yolanda and all its 1,721 barangays were certified as ZOD villages in August last year.
Meanwhile, the city government’s “Iloilo City Sports Academy (ICSA): A Grassroots Sports Program for Ilonggo Youth” is also vying to bring the city its fourth Galing Pook Award.
“We are deeply honored that we are once again included in the Galing Pook Awards. This is a testament of our hard work, and the city’s passion to make the government’s services and programs truly inclusive and accessible for everyone,” Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said.
Since 2020, ICSA has been offering free training for children aged 5-15 in sports categories such as volleyball, badminton, sepak takraw, arnis, chess, football, lawn tennis, boxing, wushu, and athletics.
Treñas said that aside from giving the opportunity to those who cannot afford to enroll in sports schools, the program serves as a training ground for promising athletes with the potential to be players in either the national or international scene.
Iloilo City has so far received three Galing Pook Awards. The first was in 2012 through its Dinagyang Festival, next is the Iloilo Batiano River Development Project in 2018, and the I-Bike Program in 2022.
The final panel presentation and interview for the Galing Pook Award 2023 is on October 11 in Pasay City.