Local governments and communities in 32 provinces of Luzon participated in a webinar that showcased various digital solutions to help them respond to challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billed as #WeHealAsOne, the virtual forum organized by leading mobile operator Smart Communications discussed digital innovations in education, livelihood, and agriculture to help communities adapt to the new normal. More than 430 participants took part in the event where they learned from success stories of existing programs supported by Smart.

“We are looking forward to collaborations with LGUs because, in our years of community-building, there is one formula that has worked for our initiatives – forging partnerships with like-minded organizations, and working together to help the public we serve,” said Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Sales & Distribution for PLDT and Smart Alex O. Caeg.

Pandemic-resilient education

The first partnership program presented in the webinar was the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP) of the Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF), an innovative learning system that has been accredited by the Department of Education as a supplementary resource for its blended learning strategy for reopening classes in October.

The huge value offered by DLP is that it works whether the school adopts printed modules, or online learning, or radio and television to teach students. Designed to encourage students to become independent learners, DLP is well suited to the current situation because it does not require close teacher and parent supervisions, explained Smart Assistant Vice President for Community Partnerships Stephanie Orlino. She added that Smart would help LGUs and schools interested in adopting DLP by providing training.

Developed by renowned Filipino Theoretical Physicists and Ramon Magsaysay Awardees for Education Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido, the program is a proven teaching method that has been supported by Smart, PLDT, and the PLDT-Smart Foundation since 2010.

DigiPalengke for micro-entrepreneurs

Quarantine protocols have made going to wet markets and grocery stores more difficult and this has opened the door for online commerce flourish. To bring this digital solution to more communities, startup developer Mark Colentava has developed a hyper-local e-commerce solution called DigiPalengke.

The mobile app enables smartphone users to browse through a catalog, purchase items, and pay for them via multiple digital payment options like Paymaya. This solution enables consumers to shop for their personal needs, and overseas Filipinos to shop for their loved ones back home.

Retailers benefit from the system’s intuitive ecosystem that makes fulfilling orders, managing inventory and coordinating delivery hassle-free. Colentava assured merchants that getting onboard is seamless with the help of Smart’s mentoring program. He added that local tricycle groups will have the opportunity to augment their income by providing logistics services. DigiPalengke has been embraced by four LGUs in Bataan.

Promoting food security

The current health crisis has also raised concerns about the food security of Filipino families. To address this need, the province of Bohol has developed an initiative called “Grow My Own Food: Bohol Backyard Garden Contest”. The program aims to inspire displaced workers and other people in need to become food self-sufficient by growing vegetables in their backyard.

According to Smart Public Affairs Officer Janille Gultiano, Loon resident Alma Tolonghari originally joined the contest to secure her family’s food needs in the face of uncertainty. Now, she’s not only growing her crops for their own consumption but has started selling them to neighbors as well.

The program is being supported by the Bohol provincial government, as well as the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Center in Bohol, the AGREA Farm School and KABOOM (Kapunungan sa Bol-anong Organikong Mag-uuma). And with Smart committed to the program, stakeholders are exploring long-term plans to develop this ecosystem further and keep it sustainable.

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