26 July 2019
By Karen Madarcos and Dr Lota Creencia, Western Philippines University

From November 2018 to 2019, the Western Philippines University (WPU) GCRF Blue Communities Team in collaboration with the international study partners from the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, in close coordination with the stakeholders, Local Government Units (LGU), National Government Agencies (NGA) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) from the Philippines, and with the support of the WPU Administrations, forged linkages, participated in and hosted capacity building events, engaged with schools, coastal communities and local government units and conducted data gathering activities. Particularly, the team of six faculty members, early career researchers and staff from WPU accomplished the following:
 

Capacity Building

To improve the research and research administration capacity of the team, the members attended six international training-workshops on Systematic Review Training, Optical and Radar Earth Observation Training Synthesis of Knowledge on Current Impacts on Ecosystem Services, Climate Model Outputs Training, Regional Workshop on Linking Marine Environment and Human Health, and Financial Reporting and Administration Training Workshop. Four of these were simultaneously hosted by the team in November 2018 (Figure 1 below). 

Figure 1) Some training events conducted in Western Philippines University, Philippines along with the Annual Progress Meeting 2018
The team also attended local capacity development programs on technical report writing and poster presentations, Integrating Genomics with Image Analysis, GIS Mapping and Mobile Computing for Sustainable Use of Biodiversity, and Training of Trainers for Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning.
 

Partnership and Advocacy

Linkages and partnerships were strengthened with the Barangay LGUs of Sta. Monica, Tagburos, Mangingisda and Manalo in Puerto Princesa City. In addition, individual Memorandum of Agreements between the WPU and the MIMAROPA Regional Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – Philippines were sealed to facilitate an efficient data collection, analysis and information campaign for local and international studies. From these agreements, the initial water sample collection from Malampaya Sound for Harmful Algal Blooms local study was started and the 2019 Tidal Calendar from Puerto Princesa Tide Station was distributed to fisherfolks through the Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (BFARMC), LGUs, academe and other stakeholders (Figure 2 below). Through the Puerto Princesa City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, the team also co-facilitated local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning.

Figure 2) Distributing the Blue Communities Tidal Calendar in Taytay, Palawan (top) and signing Memorandum of Agreement with the local partners in Puerto Princesa City
In terms of Conferences and Fora, the team co-facilitated the Association of Systematic Biologists of the Philippines (ASBP) Symposium and Annual Meeting in May 2019 and the WPU Research and Extension Forum in March 2019. Some members of the team also attended the 9th National Conference on Gender and Fisheries of National Network on Women of the Philippines in March 2019 and the 15th National Symposium in Marine Science in July 2019.
 

Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting

In connection with the previous training and scoping visits conducted by partners from the University of Exeter and University of Plymouth, the team co-drafted the Blue Communities Survey. This was submitted to and approved by both the Ethics Committee of UoE Medical School and the Philippine National Ethics Committee. In June to July 2019, this Survey, together with the six local-led studies was administered to more than 400 households from 10 barangays (Filipino term for village or district) in Taytay, Aborlan and Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Philippines (Figure 3 below).

Figure 3) The Blue Communities Survey in Taytay, Aborlan and Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

To better understand the settings of 10 selected barangay sites, members of the team conducted the first phase of Barangay data gathering using a bespoke toolkit based on the Philippine’s Department of Interior and Local Government’s format. As of the moment, four barangays from Taytay such as the Pamantolon, New Guinlo, Liminangcong and Biton were profiled. Data gathered range from demographic, social, commerce, topography, water and sanitation, basic services, health, waste disposal, disaster readiness and communication among others. 

GCRF Blue Communities Team member during the baseline data gathering at Taytay, Palawan

In terms of Marine Governance, the team, together with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), continues the rolling out of Innovation History and Net-Mapping Activities in the Municipal and Barangay LGUs of Taytay, Palawan (Figure 4 below). The result of this is currently being analyzed by the team members.

Figure 4) Marine Governance Analysis in Taytay, Palawan


2019 stepped-up the team’s data collection and communication techniques through a Communication Research spearheaded by the University of Plymouth. These events were chronologically conducted with high school and college students from Taytay and Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (Figure 5 below).


Figure 5) The Communication Research at Puerto Princesa City and Taytay, Palawan
On September 13, 2019, the Project 12 Systematic Scenario Planning team led by Ms. Arlene Avillanosa from the WPU and Dr. Sabine Pahl from the Plymouth University conducted a Communication Research in Central Taytay National High School in Taytay, Palawan, Philippines. The team conducted a series of creative contest and gathered data using a structured questionnaire before and after the competition to look on the influence of engagement on creative competition on the student’s awareness and motivation for behavior change, and concepts of the future. Eighty-eight students joined the event; awards were given to the set of poster making contest winners.

Further to Project 12 activities, four young Highschool singer-composers from Central Taytay National High School recorded a song entitled “Make a Change Today” based on the previous Communication Research events.

The GCRF Blue Communities Team together with the students and teachers from the Central Taytay National High School during the Communication Research on September 13, 2019 at Taytay, Palawan, Philippines
 

Annual Meeting Host

From 19 - 25 November 2018, WPU hosted the GCRF Blue Communities Annual Progress Meeting, along with the training events in Palawan, Philippines. This was attended by the Executive Group, international partners from the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam and a local stakeholder from Aborlan, Palawan (Figure 6 below).
Figure 6) The GCRF Blue Communities Annual Progress Meeting in Palawan, Philippines
Figure 6) The GCRF Blue Communities Annual Progress Meeting in Palawan, Philippines  

Interactions with UK Collaborators

Edgar Jose, Joel Sumeldan and John Roderick Madarcos, the Research Assistants (RA) from the WPU BC team, visited UK on October 2019 to interact with the programme collaborators from the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). During the visit, the RAs were capacitated on appropriate statistical tools followed by assisted analysis of data on health and well-being with Dr. Mathew White and Dr. Karyn Morrissey, and evidence synthesis and systematic review with Dr. Ruth Garside and Dr. Jacqui Eales both at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School. Analysis of data on communications research and state of the environment with Prof. Sabine Pahl and Dr. Isabel Richter at the University of Plymouth was also completed along with the development of GIS maps to support the data with Prof. Mel Austen and colleagues at PML. Consultation for drafting of publishable papers was also conducted.

Research Assistants during their travel to UK to interact with the programme collaborators from partner institutions in UK.


Katala Festival 2019

The WPU GCRF BC is one the official partner of the Katala Foundation Incorporated (KFI) in conducting the Katala Festival 2019 with the theme: “Share a Place to Live”,  on November 8, 2019 at the Palawan State University, Puerto Princes City, Palawan. Approximately 800 students and teachers from more than 30 elementary and high schools in Palawan joined the one-day event where they celebrated and learned KFI’s flagship species (Philippine Cockatoo, Palawan Hornbill, Calamian Deer, Balabac Mouse Deer, Palawan Forest Turtle and Palawan Pangolin) through birding adventure, inspiring messages, costume shows, quiz bee, music, dance and art competition, and education and interactive games facilitated by the KFI and the BC Team. Hundreds of students and teachers visited the booth wherein BC posters and infographics were posted and modified BC game and quiz bee was showcased. Visitors who played the games were given tokens and small gifts donated by the BC collaborating partners from University of Plymouth and PML.  

Guests and participants during the Katala Festival 2019 on November 8, 2019


Project Management

To ensure the progress, data management, proper reporting, and monitoring and evaluation of the project, the team conducted monthly and special meetings. Continuous coordination within the University administration and other concerned agencies were also done. Monthly, quarterly and annual progress and financial reports were also submitted to Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the WPU. Local data management measures through system set-ups and archiving were also employed.

The WPU Blue Communities team have conducted 13 major activities for the past seven months (Figure 7 below) in collaboration with international partners and local stakeholders.

Figure 7) Major activities conducted by WPU Blue Communities team in November 2018 – July 2019.  

Way Forward

Upon return to the Philippines after the Annual Meeting and Training Events, members of the BC team engaged in a series of get-togethers and discussions focused on: 1) developing new concepts; 2) revising, and strengthening previous proposals; 3) gathering additional data; 4) writing reports; and 5) analyzing different data sets whilst close coordinating with partners from Southeast Asia and the UK. Approximately 15 publishable papers are indicated in the team’s recently drafted Publication Plan.

The team is now set to continuously gather and analyze data, and begin the paper writing for local and international studies while continuously building its research capability, building linkages and disseminating relevant messages and information to the stakeholders and the public (Figure 8 below).

Slide5.JPG
 

Western Philippines University Blue Communities Team:

Website: www.wpu.edu.ph
Facebook: @wpubluecommunities
Twitter: @GCRFBlueComWPU
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