Limasawa: ‘Cradle of good nutrition’ Mayor Petracorta vows to make good nutrition a way of life in Limasawa
LIMASAWA, Southern Leyte – The tiny island of Limasawa is known as the “Cradle of Christianity” because it is where the first Mass in the Philipines was held in 1521.
Limasawa Mayor Melchor Petracorta, however, said the island-municipality could also be called the “Cradle of Good Nutrition” after it won several recognitions for its efforts to practice good nutrition.
Limasawa has been a Green Banner awardee for nutrition in the years 2005, 2006, and 2007, a Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition (CROWN) awardee from 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Last year, Limasawa became the first winner in Eastern Visayas of the Nutrition Honor Award (NHA), the highest merit given to an LGU for being a consistent winner in the nutrition program.
“Nutrition has always been my centerpiece program. All this talk about good governance is nothing without nutrition in its agenda. Kaya po siguro sa amin, ang mahirap hindi na nagiging masyadong mahirap,” Mayor Petracorta said during the NHA awarding ceremony.
The island-municipality was also conferred last year the Galing Pook Award because of its successful and innovative nutrition practices that resulted to a zero malnutrition among school children and a healthy lifestyle for adults.
Limasawa is a 6th class munipality of the province of Southern Leyte. It is composed of six villages, namely barangays Cabulihan, Lugsongan, Magallanes, San Agustin, San Bernardo and Triana. The island-town has a population of about 6,000.
From afar, the island looks like a tadpole but on a closer look, one can see clean, white beaches, rock cliffs and fishing villages.
The island is said to be among the places in Southern Leyte with good underwater scenes, reason why scuba divers frequent the place. The provincial government plans to erect on Limasawa a 100-meter cross and make the island a pilgrimage tourism site.
Many of the Limasawa’s residents are into farming and fishing. Although rice does not grow well in the island, enough vegetables, banana, root crops and other high value crops are grown in the island. Fishers usually have a bountiful catch, but in bad weather they cannot go out to sea for days because of the rough seas.
When Petracorta assumed office as mayor for the first time, the malnutrition rate in the island was about 8 percent. Today, the malnutrition rate was lowered to just 2 percent.
Petracorta, however, wants the island-municipality to attain a zero malnutrition rate. He believes that they can sustain the gains of good nutrition in Limasawa. He said that their dream was not only winning the awards but to institutionalize good nutrition in the island, to improve the lives of people in the municipality. In fact health and nutrition tops the priorities of the municipal government of Limasawa.
“I have said that let us start with nutrition, then everything will follow – good education, infrastructures and livelihood of the people,” he said, adding that vegetables gardens are already in the island, the barangay nutrition scholars have already been trained, and the municipal nutrition committee regularly convenes to discuss problems and solutions and monitors nutrition-related activities.
On criticism that Limasawa won the Nutrition Honor Award because it is a tiny municipality with a manageable population, Petracorta retorted that they really worked hard in winning the award.
“Actually we have done so much (for good nutrition), things that if left undone nothing would have happened. First, we strengthened the municipal nutrition committee because this is the group that that makes the plan and monitors nutrition projects and programs that address the malnutrition problem,” he said.
According to Petracorta, they also involved almost everyone in the good nutrition campaign like the barangay captains, school heads, elected municipal officials, non-government organizations, and the whole community.
“When we saw that the MNC was already strong, we made nutrition plans and monitor the children including the unborn ones,” said Petracorta. “Nutrition is one of the factors that would lead to the strengthening of the family, the municipality and the barangay because without nutrition we will have no direction,” he said.
He disclosed that the municipal fund intended for nutrition was only P200,000 per year, but everybody in Limasawa is helping in the good nutrition campaign. He said that they also solicited funds for nutrition project from outside the municipality, like from the An Waray partylist. “‘Yon mga taong tumutulong ‘yon and nagpalakas sa amin,” he said.
The mayor explained that they really have to look into the welfare of the children. “Tao ang kailangan natin e-strenthen, hindi ang facilities. Kung mayroon kang magandang building, pero ang mga tao masakitin wala rin mangyari…. Sa tingin ko kung ang tao malakas na, walang dahilan kung bakit hindi mai-improve ang municipality kasi hindi na sila magkakasakit,” he said.
He said they are also thankful of the recognitions, which inspired them. “We are thinking of ways to further improve the nutrition status of Limasawa,” he said, adding that they want good nutrition to be a way ofl ife in Limasawa.
Memon Bulactiar, the barangay nutrition scholar of Barangay Cabulihan and who was adjudged the regonal outstanding BNS last year, confirmed this. She said the marching order of Mayor Petracorta is for the barangay nutrition scholars to continue their good work in nutrition even if Limasawa already won the Nutrition Honor Award last year.
In Limasawa, good nutrition can be attained through the unity, cooperation and determination of the leaders and the people.
BY VEN LABRO
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