Daig Daluyong by Millennium Wave Breakers
Ken Reinier Villanueva, Angelica Reyes, & Joshua Peregrina
Daig Daluyong aims to mitigate the effects of storm surges and tsunamis on coastal communities through coastal planning. It is an initiative to foster sustainable coastal protection both for communities and the environment. Coastal Planning involves the assessment of community needs and utilization of the community’s natural resources in the building of disaster- resilient solutions that are locally relevant. This entails restoration, conservation, and rehabilitation of mangrove forests and local vegetation, as well as design and creation of complementary projects, programs, and products. Concepts include: a vertical evacuation structure, which is an elevated refuge that enables evacuation from flooding events without displacement to crowded city centers; and the Bastion, a barrier designed to deflect tsunami and storm surge impact away from a structure, reducing the need for seawalls and instead providing an opportunity for flood control to be realized.
Daig Daluyong strives for coastal communities to be disaster-resilient and equipped with sustainable solutions that reduce their vulnerabilities; for coastal communities to be no longer at high risk due to the devastating effects of tsunamis and storm surges; for communities to be empowered, driven, and independent in building the future; for communities to be far from risk and to be adaptive and resilient to changing times; and for the protection and enhancement of the commune and the environment.
CONNECT WITH US!
Daig Daluyong aims to continue researching solutions and innovating ways to help coastal communities become sustainably resilient against disasters. We want to create and conduct programs and to construct structures with the community. To be able to do this, we need financial aid to continue researching and designing, and we need partnerships to create accurate solutions for and alongside coastal communities.
INNOVATING IS JUST LIKE ADULTING
He thought it was an event for students organized by the top university. But less than five minutes into it, looking at the other participants, he realized that he was the only person below 20 years old.
“Everyone around me were all adults!” exclaimed Ken Reinier Villanueva, team lead of Millennium Wave Breakers, the youngest team of TUKLAS Innovation Labs.
Ken, 17, is a senior high school student at Makati Science High School, one of the state-funded institutions mandated by law to provide exceptional high school students with an advanced science curriculum. Selection is rigorous, with only 100 to 150 students per year level, who have to maintain a grade point average all throughout their stay in the school.
One of the requisites of being in a school that emphasizes science is the the submission of an investigatory research each year. The innovation idea that Ken submitted to Tuklas was born out of this requirement. After the information session that he attended, he went and sold three other friends on his idea, namely Angelica Reyes, James Blue Elman and Joshua Peregrina. They decided to form the innovation team and, utilizing Ken’s connection as a youth ambassador with a children’s foundation in Muntinlupa City, were able to secure a possible community partner in Dasol, Pangasinan.
In December 2017, the team was shortlisted with 15 other applicants for the Northern Luzon Lab. Ken went to Baguio City for the regional writeshop and peer selection review that same month. He pitched their idea to the assembled representatives from the other teams.
“Again, it was very intimidating,“ confessed Ken. “I thought, would they take me, a kid, seriously?”
But he plowed through it, pitching their multi-layer tsunami and storm surge mitigation idea like any pro. He explained how, a submerged set of specially-shaped concrete blocks some kilometers offshore will slow down the waves, and how the mangroves and coastal forest of wide-canopy trees will further mitigate their impact. The blocks were also set to become artificial reefs that might someday be home to fish and other marine fauna and flora. Collectively, they called the innovation idea Daig Daluyong.
It must be partly due to Ken’s youthful enthusiasm and charisma (the other being the bright and fresh idea itself) that they got selected in February 2018 as one of the 10 ideas for Tuklas Northern Luzon to support in prototyping and testing. They attended Haraya in March, where all innovators were taught to integrate Design Thinking (UserCentered Design) into the development of their DRR innovations.
But, just like life or any experiment, things don’t always go according to plan.
ADULTING THROUGH TUKLAS
As early as April 2018, the team already was grappling with the enormity of the task at hand. Although the lab staff, particularly Project Manager Kei Bughaw and Community Engagement Officer Amian Tauli (who both went to science-curriculum high schools too) tried to encourage them to open up and ask for support, the team felt embarrassed to reveal that they had lost contact with the children’s foundation and subsequently their potential partner community. They also couldn’t decide on the design of their multi-layer innovation, from submerged to floating structures. They assured the lab that they were okay and just waiting for their chance to conduct an inception workshop with their community in Pangasinan.
In late May, after one team member dropped out to focus on his academics, Ken, Angel and Joshua decided to come clean and ask for help in finding a new community to partner with. Although alarmed, the NL Lab was happy to have formed a more trusting and open relationship with the young team. Immediately, they started asking networks in La Union and Ilocos Sur to assist. However, most of the La Union beachfront were tourist areas and didn’t welcome the idea of unsightly floating structures in its shoreline. The Ilocos communities expressed hesitation at hosting an infrastructure project that might scare away their potential fish catch.
The biggest stumbling block actually was the unaccommodating academic schedule of the young innovators and the distance of the possible partner barangays to their residences. The team could simply not find the time to do the process with the community. With the progress of the other NL teams, Ken, Angel and Joshua soon found themselves in high pressure. Anxious, in September, in the thick of preparations for their college entrance examinations, the team informed the lab of their decision to withdraw from the project.
“It was difficult,” said NL Lab staff Amian Tauli. “They had to deal with their academics, looming applications to college, and normal teenaged angst and friendships, with this big 1-million-peso grant.”
While the team officially stopped prototyping and testing of their idea, they were still under the Capacity-Strengthening Program of Tuklas. Towards building their knowledge in refining their idea, Amian accompanied the team and introduced them to University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Geological Sciences director Dr. Fernando P. Siringan. The team were elated at the opportunity and found themselves grounded back to earth by the director’s advice.
“Dr. Siringan told us to research some more, and to visit an actual community and look at the specific reasons why it is more vulnerable to tsunamis and storm surges. The design itself, could be different for reach community, because each one has different geological features,” Angel narrated of the experience.
Next came up an online meeting with the Philippines’ most widelycited marine scientists, Dr. Jurgenne H. Primavera. With her background in mangrove ecosystem conservation, the team was happy to receive her insights on their idea.
“Dr. Primavera herself took the time to listen to the kids,” Tuklas MEAL Officer May Wan Dominado shared. “She told them that not all shorelines can host mangrove plantations so they must inspect first. Some mangrove species thrive only in certain conditions.”
Armed with their mentors’ advice, the young team went into their community immersion with a new vigor and resolve.
IDEATING WITH A NEW COMMUNITY
With assistance from fellow Tuklas Northern Luzon innovator, development NGO KADUAMI Inc., the Millennium Wave Breakers spent two nights in a fishing community in Aringay, La Union during their holiday break in December 2018.
With guidance from Tuklas Northern Luzon staff and KADUAMI staff, the team made a courtesy call with the barangay officials, conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) with community members, and inspected the shorelines. These activities made the team conclude that indeed there was not one exact solution to fit all. While there would be a template for an array of mitigating natural or man-made structures, these could be mixed and matched to a specific community’s needs.
When asked for their reflections about their experience with Tuklas, the team were unanimous in saying that it was a life-changing one. They went from theorizing to actually talking about it with a real community-at-risk, discarded old models willingly, and resolving to further innovate on their idea even after Tuklas.
Angel, Joshua and Ken were 17-year-old senior high students when they got accepted as Tuklas innovators. They leave as legitimate young adults, graduating and on the way to college in two months. They will be taking Engineering courses as scholars of prestigious universities.
At the Pasundayag Regional Innovation Fair in Baguio, Ken made the pitch for their idea to representatives of government agencies, NGOs, private sector, and academic institutions. Their youth was inspiring to the adults in attendance.
“These kids will be famous someday,” Tuklas Consortium Manager Enan Melencio commented after hearing their pitch at the Regional Innovation Fair. “We did well to start them on their way.”