SAMPAW BATO: Iloilo’s historical treasure highlighted in Smart’s Doon Po Sa Amin

The Philippines boasts of natural wonders, many of which have yet to be discovered and documented. With the use of Internet technologies, leading wireless services provider Smart Communications (Smart) calls on Pinoys to become local ambassadors and share their hometown stories to the rest of the world via the Doon Po Sa Amin (DPSA) project.

Smart recently presented the winners of the 7th run of DPSA and at the awarding ceremonies, Smart Public Affairs Department Head for Community Partnerships Darwin Flores said that, “DPSA has revolutionized the way we look at our country. In the past years, students from over 300 partner schools highlighted local stories on destinations, delicacies, history, and heroes using multimedia tools, and online technologies.”

For 2015, Smart opened the competition to all Filipinos from all walks of life.

Among the finalists for the Open Category was a group of college students hailing from Iloilo. Their entry is a documentary of Sampaw Bato in San Joaquin, Iloilo. The natural rock formation holds historical value, as it was used as a refuge by several villagers fleeing from the Japanese army during World War II. It was also a strategic hiding spot for arms gathered by Hukbalahap forces during the Occupation.

One of the members of the Iloilo group hails from San Joaquin and after several meetings, they decided that it was time to give Sampaw Bato its rightful place in Philippine history. The video that they presented included vignettes of their long, arduous, and somewhat dangerous journey.

Group leader Mary Hope L. Torrechante recounts their trip: “San Joaquin is located 53 kilometers away from the city and we had to take a two-hour road trip to get there. We started our climb to Sampaw Bato at 2 a.m., because we wanted to catch the sunrise, and it takes a three-hour trek to get there. It was dark, and the path was steep, but we forged ahead because it was our objective to show this hidden treasure to the rest of the world.”

Because it was dark, it was only when they saw their video recording that they were actually walking alongside a steep embankment, shares Mark Luis L. Sedicol. It was also while watching the video that their group mate, John Michael G. Londres, a native of San Joaquin, was able to appreciate his hometown with a fresh perspective. “It has a very scenic view. We ourselves could not believe that there are still places like these that are virtually untouched by civilization,” they chime.

“Iloilo has long been known for our food, such as Batchoy or for the Dinagyang Festival. But as we were discussing our topic proposals for this project, so many ideas came in on what we can feature. We have the Bahay na Bato, which houses antique porcelain items, the Paraw Regatta festival, and the artisans of San Joaquin. It made us very proud of our hometown,” Torrechante says. “There are so many other things that people need to know about Iloilo, and the residents that we interviewed for our video are very happy that finally, people can get to see this natural and historical wonder,” adds Sedicol.

Londres explains how technology today can touch lives. “Because of initiatives such as Smart’s Doon Po Sa Amin, we can trace back to our past and understand its significance to our lives. Through our group project, I learned that technology does not only connect people with other people. It also connects people with history and nature.”

Placing 1st runner-up under the open division of the competition, the group took home P30,000 which they decided to share with the community of Barangay Ginot-An Hid. “This is the barangay located nearest Sampaw Bato, and they are isolated up in the mountains. They have no means of transportation and no electricity. Their houses are still made of nipa materials. We would like to be able to help their community in any way we can, including bringing attention to Sampaw Bato as a possible tourist attraction,” Torrechante explains.

This group’s efforts encapsulate what Ramon R. Isberto, group head for Public Affairs at Smart announced at the DPSA opening ceremonies last year. “By engaging Pinoys to contribute stories about where they live through Internet and mobile technologies, they learn new things about their town that can make them feel proud of being a Filipino. Hopefully, this pride will translate to meaningful actions in helping their communities.”

Launched in 2008, DPSA is the biggest and longest-running online local content activity in the country generating more than 1,500 crowd-sourced local stories covering the history, traditions, festivals, destinations, notable people, unique plants and animals, special delicacies, and local products of different places in the Philippines.

DPSA is aligned with Smart’s Internet for all advocacy that aims to include more Pinoys in the digital conversation by making information available and accessible through web and mobile technologies.

To view all the DPSA entries, visit its website at www.doonposaamin.ph. You may also follow DPSA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DoonPoSaAmin, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/doonposaaminph, or subscribe to its Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/DoonPoSaAminPH for more Pinoy local stories. [END]

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