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iLab ARAL empowers youth climate innovation in Calabanga

By Pearly A. Esperida

To nurture youth as proactive advocates and innovators in the fight against climate change, iLab ARAL Inc. organized the 1st Calabanga Young Climate Changemakers Innovation Bootcamp in collaboration with LGU Calabanga, educational institutions, and other agencies and local organizations on September 2–3, 2023, at Nesting Place Integrated Farm, Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

Prior to the onsite activities, participating students and teacher-coaches from secondary schools joined the virtual learning sessions held on August 28, 2023, where experts from various fields, including climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity, sustainability, and innovation, served as mentors, guiding the young changemakers in their quest to find innovative solutions to climate-related problems.

On September 2, 2023, the event commenced with an opening program. Mr. James Earn Esperida, founder and program director of CYCCIB, welcomed the participants with an inspiring message and insightful orientation about the event. Afterwards, Ms. Pearly Esperida, the program lead of CYCCIB, spearheaded an engaging activity to ignite the spirit of the participants in climate innovation.

Enlightening panel discussions followed the short program. The first discussion revolved around “Youth as Climate Changemakers,” where distinguished experts and young climate activists shared their experiences and insights. It provided a platform for participants to understand the significance of their role in addressing climate issues.

Following this, the second panel, titled “Youth Innovators for Climate Resilience: Ideas, Actions, and Impact,” delved into concrete strategies and projects that have made an impact in fostering climate resilience. Participants gained valuable perspectives on how innovative ideas can translate into real-world actions that contribute to climate resilience.

One of the highlights of the bootcamp was the field trip to nearby ecological hotspots. The participants visited the material recovery facility at Barangay Bigaas, the renewable energy construction at Barangay Manguiring, the mangrove plantation at Barangay Belen, and the market at Calabanga proper. This immersive experience allowed them to witness firsthand the environmental changes occurring within their municipality, reinforced the urgency of the climate crisis, and inspired the participants to take action.

After the field visits, participants returned to the bootcamp venue for mentoring sessions to refine their initial innovative projects. The organizers also incorporated an ‘Amazing Race’ challenge into the event. Participants were divided into teams and embarked on a thrilling race across various stations. Each station offered a unique challenge directly connected to amplifying their commitment to climate change.

The pitching challenge was conducted on the last day. The participating schools presented their innovative projects. They were given 15–20 minutes to showcase their projects and answer questions from the judges. The awarding of winners and closing ceremony immediately followed the pitching.

The Central Bicol State University Laboratory High School got the 1st place with their “Project Shell to Life, Share to Life,” while Camarines Sur National Agro-Industrial High School with their Project Tukad, and Our Lady of La Porteria Academy with their SPOWACOST Project secured the 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.

Hon. Eugene Norman Severo, Municipal Mayor of Calabanga, graced the afternoon event. In his message, Mayor Severo commended the dedication and commitment of the participants, highlighting the importance of their initiatives in shaping a sustainable future for Calabanga. He encouraged the organizers, participants, and partners to continue their collaborative efforts towards a greener and more resilient municipality.

The closing ceremony was also a celebration of the participants’ hard work and commitment to environmental stewardship. Certificates were awarded to the young climate changemakers in recognition of their dedication and innovative ideas.

Volunteers, organizers, partners, and sponsors who played a pivotal role in the success of the CYCCIB were also honored for their invaluable contributions. Student volunteers from CBSUA Calabanga pursuing BS Environmental Science, along with a student from UNC taking BS Architecture, were recognized. Moreover, teacher-volunteers were acknowledged for their involvement as organizers. Partners and sponsors, such as Nesting Place Integrated Farm, San Isidro Development Cooperative (Calabanga Branch), Pamitisan Shoes Shop, Chiery’s Travelers Inn, Pangga Junkshop, Hon. Sherwin Francis Mendoza and Ms. Miel Bongon, through JCI Senate Naga, also received

recognition for their active support and assistance in the activity.

The CYCCIB is a symbol of hope and determination to create a brighter, more sustainable future for all. It is expected to be just the beginning of a series of initiatives aimed at empowering youth and mobilizing them to combat climate change. It sends a clear message that Calabanga is committed to a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.


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