BATAC CITY – Krystle Candice Palay, a fifth-year BS Chemical Engineering student of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) here, woke up early on Saturday morning.
She was excited as she carried her bags to the bus that was waiting outside. After two months of longing to see her family in Isabela, the day has finally come.
Krystle was one of the 15 students who comprised the first batch ferried by the MMSU bus in going to their homes in Cagayan and Isabela.
They were among the more than 100 university students who were locked down in boarding houses and dormitories in Ilocos Norte during the government-imposed Luzon-wide community quarantine since March 15.
Although she wanted to beat the deadline, Krystle didn’t make it home before that date.
Last Saturday, however, she was one of those who were brought safely to the boundary of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte through the university’s Oplan PARUBBUAT, or the Program to Accompany and Return University Brothers/Sisters to their Beloved Utmost Abodes thru Travel Provisions).
“I am greatly thankful to the university and its officials because we, the stranded students, really feel its Saranay (compassion) program during this time of crisis,” Krystle said.
She said for a student like her, she cannot reciprocate the weekly food rationing and provision of cash allowance, online psycho-social support, and now, the free ride going back home.
Aside from the 15 MMSU students, a stranded student of the Divine Word College of Laoag was also assisted by the university and joined the group of those who went home to Cagayan.
The program is implemented by the Institutional Student Programs and Scholarships (ISPS) unit of the Office of Student Affairs and Services (OSAS).
“You see, the office considers the welfare and emotional well-being of the students as our top priority, that is, to reunite them with their families, which is very vital during this Covid-19 pandemic crisis,” said Prof. Milagros Barruga, ISPS chief.
Barruga said the student welfare unit, led by Dr. Geraldeen Pascual, coordinated with the provincial governments and local government units (LGUs) of Cagayan and Isabela so that the student would be picked up by vehicles of LGUs to ferry them directly to their homes.
“We thank Governor Manuel Mamba of Cagayan and other LGUs for their very quick response and assistance to our PARUBBUAT program,” Pascual said.
She assured that the students are now safely home with their families in Claveria, Sanchez Mira, Abulog, Pamplona, Gonzaga, Sta. Ana, Aparri, Tuguegarao (all in Cagayan), and Alicia, Isabela.
Jan Rich Guira, OSAS student development chief, said the program is part of the MMSU Saranay against Covid-19, the university’s response to the health crisis.
Other initiatives include the distribution of nipahol (70 percent ethyl alcohol produced by the university), food rationing, and distribution of personal protective equipment (face masks and lab gown), among others.
He said each ferried student was provided with snacks, packed lunch, and a PHP500 cash allowance. Reynaldo Andres with reports from John Vincent Toribio, MMSU StratCom / PNA – northboundasia.com