Zonta Club of Central Tuguegarao build a better world for its community

The Zonta Club of Central Tuguegarao, Philippines, built a better world for its community with multiple actions.

Eco Angels - The road to 13K trees
The club has partnered with the Metropolitan Tuguegarao Water District (MTWD) to restore and plant trees at the Zonta Forest & Garden at the San Roque Watershed in Peñablanca, Cagayan. This partnership was formalized in 2021 through a Memorandum of Agreement. The MTWD has entrusted the club with the responsibility of maintaining, developing, and protecting the assigned area. This project aims to accelerate the reforestation rate, promoting socio-economic development and environmental protection in the country.

The club's environment committee established the Zonta Eco Angels, Road to 13K trees, to develop the project further. This group will organize environmental activities such as tree-growing, forest clean-up, and maintenance by engaging other civic organizations, business establishments, schools, and family members. At least 50 Zontians have joined the tree-planting activities throughout the project. The group established partnerships with numerous public and private organizations, such as the Medical Colleges of Northern Philippines, the International School of Asia and the Pacific, De Leon General Hospital and many more.

On 1 August, the club was awarded a Plaque of Recognition for their active partnership with the MTWD in planting trees. The Zonta Eco Angels and their partners have planted 7,497 different species of endemic seedlings and wildlings. The survival rate of these trees is an impressive 96%.

Zonta Info Caravan
As part of the annual Women's Month Celebration and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the club conducted the Zonta Info Caravan on Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response.

The Info Caravan aims to capacitate barangay officials in the prevention and response to cases of gender-based violence through a series of lectures on laws focused on women's rights, redress of violence against women and girls and human trafficking. The lectures focus on key legislations such as Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004; Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009, RA 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 and its amendments; Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003; RA 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act or the Bawal Bastos Law; and Presidential Decree No. 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare Code. Expert club members further discuss the prevention of teenage pregnancy, mental health awareness, gender sensitivity and the protection of women with disability in the labor sector, as well as their participation in management.

Approximately 500 individuals attended the Info Caravan. Over 400 participants from various barangays of Tuguegarao City and regional line agencies, more than 165 participants from various barangays of Iguig and regional line agencies, and around 200 participants, including local officials, youth, women's groups, government employees and other sectors from Enrile, Cagayan, also attended the event.

The club has spent more than three decades uplifting the lives of women and girls through service and advocacy. The club has continuously engaged with local government units to capacitate the barangays to address instances of gender-based violence, its prevention and response.

All About Eve project
The All About Eve project, led by the club's advocacy committee, is a remarkable initiative that aims to create awareness and educate the public on various pressing issues that affect women in society. Through a series of engaging and informative discussions, the project sheds light on key topics such as Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC), breast cancer awareness, women empowerment, teenage pregnancy, child marriages and various laws and issuances that support and empower women and girls.

Every episode is carefully curated, inviting distinguished guests from various fields to participate in the discussions. Lawyers specializing in women's rights, doctors specializing in breast cancer research, survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse, judges presiding over important cases, and accomplished individuals heading relevant government departments and organizations are among those invited to contribute their expertise.

The project aims to disseminate accurate and essential information about these crucial matters, ensuring the public is well-informed and equipped to address them effectively. By providing diverse perspectives, the All About Eve project encourages holistic discussions and fosters a deeper understanding of the complexities of these issues.

As the project progressed and more online participants engaged, the club saw the need for a broader platform to reach and empower more women and girls. Thus, on 12 July 2022, the club entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Philippine Information Agency, Region 02, to air All About Eve, linking the club's and the agency's social media pages every 4:00 PM every last Friday of the month. The platforms reach a total of around 180,000 followers each airing.

The project recognizes the power of information and brings forward vital knowledge to help break down barriers and challenge societal norms. Furthermore, it aims to raise consciousness and inspire action among viewers, prompting them to advocate for change within their communities. Through open and insightful conversations, the project creates a platform for discussions that can influence policies, encourage research, and support the development of programs to address these concerns effectively. By providing a space for individuals affected by these issues to share their experiences, the project strives to empower and give a voice to those who have been marginalized or silenced.

With its comprehensive approach and a vast range of topics, the project has catalyzed change by encouraging dialogue, education and awareness, paving the way for a society that champions women's rights, health and empowerment. Through this advocacy, the project plants the seeds for a future where gender equality is a reality, and women can thrive without fear or discrimination.

The committee and all those involved in the All About Eve project strive to create a world where every woman's voice is heard, respected and valued. Together, they work tirelessly to ensure the project's message reaches far and wide, empowering individuals to take a stand and champion women's rights everywhere.

Blood donation for victims of violence
The club has demonstrated its commitment to helping victims of gender-based violence by conducting a year-long support program called "Kalinga sa mga Babaeng Biktima ng Karahasan," which translates to "support for women victims of violence." As part of this program, the club organized a blood donation drive that collected 560 bags of blood from various donors of different blood types.

The club partners with the University of Cagayan Valley's College of Law student council and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Cagayan Chapter. The collected blood bags were turned over to PRC Cagayan for storage and for future use by women and girls who are victims of violence.

The Philippine Red Cross-Cagayan Chapter commended the club for collecting the most blood bags in a single venue on 7 October at the Cagayan Sports Coliseum in Tuguegarao City.

Empowerment program
On 11 August 2022, the club was informed of Alay Agay, an initiative conducted by Schools to Street-Cagayan Valley, an organization composed of young adults with the mission to make education accessible to all. Alay Agay is a long-term plan under the umbrella project Ladders to Literacy.

Realizing that the project aligns with their thet, the club donated needed school supplies and conducted feeding and storytelling activities on 21 August 2022. They also distributed 54 school bags containing pad papers, notebooks, pens, pencils and a hygiene kit. The club also handed out 40 mommy hygiene kits. Shoes and shirts were also given to the children, and meals were prepared for them. Agay's chieftain and Community Pastor endorsed children's books and a flipchart on children's rights. On 19 February 2023, the club conducted its second Alay Agay service project for the indigenous peoples in the Municipality of Sto. Niño, Cagayan.

By partnering with like-minded organizations, the club provided other services, such as a reproductive health and family planning lecture for women and girls, oral fluoride treatment for children and lectures on baby teeth and toothbrush techniques. The club also donated vitamins and oral health kits to 54 families and toothbrushes to 200 Indigenous people.

On 26 November, the club partnered with the Tuguegarao City Cagayan Dental Chapter and visited the coastal town of Ballesteros, Cagayan, to conduct lectures, consultations and gift-giving for the indigenous families in the community. Lectures and consultations were aimed at creating knowledge and awareness on gender-based violence, women's rights, reproductive health and oral health, which benefited 52 families.

After the lectures, the group distributed toothbrushes, toothpaste sets, medicines and vitamins. Children were taught fluoride application. Sacks of rice and groceries were given to the families.

After each visit, the club and its partners held consultative meetings with the indigenous community leaders to understand and understand their needs. They observed that there was an alarming rate of teenage pregnancy, hence the necessity for further consultation and lectures on the subject.

The club's Alay-Agay Project is a flagship project aimed at addressing women's empowerment and the prevention of teenage pregnancy in the indigenous community. With the help of its partners and government agencies concerned, the club will continue to assist indigenous women and girls in the province.

Project Womengineers
The club's Project Womengineers is a noteworthy initiative that aims to empower and support young women pursuing degrees in engineering and architecture at Cagayan State University. Recognizing the gender disparity in these fields, where women are significantly underrepresented, Project Womengineers seeks to break down barriers and create opportunities for talented individuals. By providing scholarships to ten deserving students from the College of Engineering and Architecture, this project aims to encourage more women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated industries.

The club believes in the potential of these young women and understands the importance of representation in engineering and the arts. By offering financial support through scholarships, the project ensures that talented students have the resources to succeed academically and overcome any financial obstacles that may hinder their education.

The project aims to inspire and empower women to pursue their passions and achieve their full potential, regardless of societal expectations or gender norms. By breaking traditional stereotypes and empowering women to excel in historically male-dominated fields, Project Womengineers aims to create a more equitable and inclusive society. This initiative is crucial in promoting diversity and fostering an inclusive educational environment. It benefits the individual recipients of the scholarships and has a broader societal impact. Through their academic achievements and future careers, these women will serve as role models for future generations, challenging the existing gender imbalances and encouraging more women to pursue engineering and the arts careers.

Hope amidst the storm: Typhoon and flood relief operations
The club witnessed the devastating impact of typhoons that hit Cagayan Province. However, the flooding accompanying Typhoon Ulysses in the final quarter of 2020 was particularly shocking as the storm was not centered in Cagayan. The deluge of water pouring into the Cagayan River submerged the province and left many helpless. This catastrophe happened when the world was already grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The club did not stand by. During the immediate aftermath of the flooding, and when it was safe for club members to go out, they started working and pooling their resources to extend their help to the flood victims. Realizing the magnitude of the flood, the club immediately posted its call for donations, giving way to the generosity of people and organizations as far away as Canada.

On 30 November 2020, the club was able to generate a total amount of P2,000,426.25, approximately US$35,744, along with large volumes of relief goods consisting of food supplies, water, clothes, medicines, houseware and beddings coursed by several groups and individuals.

Club members distributed hundreds of relief packs and thousands of food packs to our people in flooded areas in Tuguegarao and the neighboring towns of Enrile, Solana, Amulung, Iguig and Baggao. The club prepared and distributed hundreds of survival kits. The remaining cash donations were utilized to buy portlets, as the club saw the need for portable comfort rooms, especially for women and girls in evacuation centers.

In the third quarter of 2023, Super Typhoon Egay hit Cagayan. In partnership with Lex Athenia Victoria, an Ateneo Law School-based society of enlightened women, the club distributed relief packs to about 100 families of women and girls on 4 August.

The club recognizes the vulnerability of women and girls in times of natural disaster. They are more affected and, thus, need more attention. As part of its advocacy for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all aspects of life, the club, through its service projects, reaches out to the disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors, particularly those victims of disasters and other emergencies.

Helping mothers rebuild homes
In response to the immediate needs of marginalized women who lost their homes as a result of Typhoon Lawin, the club launched Zonta, Kaagapay ng mga Nanay, sa Pagsasaayos ng mga Nasirang Bahay, which means "Zonta, Helping Mothers Rebuild Homes." The beneficiaries were single mothers in the affected municipalities.

With the help of donors, the club distributed housing materials such as galvanized iron, plywood, various construction materials and cash gifts. They assisted around 105 disadvantaged single mothers rebuild their houses after the typhoon.