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ILOILO CITY—For the past month, Aienna Guerra and eight other freshman students of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) have been attending classes in their hometown of Pandan in Antique province, about 185 kilometers from the UPV campus in Miag-ao town, Iloilo province.
While many students are struggling to cope with online classes due to lack of gadgets and stable internet connection, Guerra and her schoolmates are thankful that a group of UPV alumni and students in their town is helping provide them learning spaces and laptop computers.
It takes about three hours of land travel to reach Pandan from the capital town of San Jose in Antique, five hours from Miag-ao ,and around six hours from the Iloilo City campus.
Members of the University of the Philippines Pandananon (UPP) are providing free Wi-Fi-connected spaces in two houses where the UPV students can study and access online services.
“Many of us do not have internet connections or have unstable mobile data signals. Even if we travel from our homes to the two houses, it is still much cheaper compared to spending on mobile data load which is unstable,” Guerra, 19, a fisheries student, told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
The students alternately use the houses of UPP members Arden Rod Condez and Mignon Frances Ortega from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. They download study guides, video tutorials, take quizzes, submit assignments and projects and attend online classes through Zoom, a video conference application.
If needed, they can also stay overnight, according to Guerra.
The UPP provided the learning spaces in August when most of the students took “bridge” or remedial lessons before regular classes started in UPV on Sept. 10.
Sasha Dioso, an alumnus and researcher at the UPV-based Center of West Visayan Studies, said UPP members saw the need for a reliable and continuous internet access because of the blended learning modules.
“Many of them have no reliable internet access. Some even have to go to the shoreline in their villages just to get connected,” Condez said.
The UPP bought a laptop computer, printer and face masks for the students from proceeds of pickled “ampalaya” (bitter gourd) they sold in June.
It has been organizing weekend bazaars in Pandan to support food sellers and handicraft makers and to help raise funds so it can provide students with laptops and their other needs, Dioso said.
In Iloilo City, the iAmUPHi, a group composed of alumni of the UP High School in Iloilo, has also donated around 150 laptops to UPHI students.
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