INSPIRING: Bringing Giant Bags of Hope And Big Dreams

Cabugao, a small island community in the town of Coron, Palawan, has an elementary school with a population of about 260 students. Out of all the students graduating elementary in this school, only 20% get the opportunity to go to high school, which is not available on the island. Those who want to send their children to high school need to shell out more money to send them to downtown Coron.

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We taught them how to selfie. 🙂

Then, only 5% of these students finish high school.

College is another story.

Doing the math, out of 100 students, only one of them can possibly finish high school. This means that out of the 260 students enrolled now at Cabugao Elementary School, only two to three will go to high school if we base it on statistics.

In a small community with no electricity and the source of potable water is difficult, it makes sense why education is not a top priority. Moreover, the technology that can help progress education is also not a top priority.

The top priority? Work to survive.

Some of the children who are supposed to be attending school and learning are simply pulled out to work. According to their teachers, this year’s enrollment went down because of this. In order to survive, they have to work even at a young age.

Cabugao is known as a source for “bird’s nest” or balinsasayaw. Therefore, some of these supposed students are trained not to read and write but to climb rocky hills to farm bird’s nest. This business is actually lucrative. According to locals, a kilogram of bird’s nest can be sold at P140,000. However, it is not easy to farm a kilogram of bird’s nest. Also, sometimes they have to sell cheap and the middle men are the ones actually earning more from this.

Aside from farming bird’s nest, getting cashews is also a popular industry in the island. Some of the children are trained early to pick cashews, remove the seed (nut) from the fruit, dry it, and then sell it later on.

Fishing is also another job on the island.

Still, education should not be simply taken for granted. In a way, this is can be a means to progress the whole island.

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Delivering a School in a Bag in Cabugao.

Hopefully, they will have better learning opportunities.

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Head of PTA in Cabugao Elementary School delivers short speech regarding School in a Bag.

One step that has been taken, with the help of Smart Communications, is the program called “School in a Bag”.

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School in a Bag is a giant bag given to far-flung schools in the country. It contains:

  • 1 solar panel
  • 1 battery
  • 1 monitor
  • 1 laptop/tablet
  • 5 tablets
  • 1 pocket wi-fi
  • 1 mobile phone

Along with this, two teachers from the schools will be brought to Manila to undergo training with regards to early child development. For instance, this coming May, two teachers from Cabugao will be brought to Manila for this training.

Aside from Cabugao Elementary School, a School in a Bag was also delivered at Banuang Daan Elementary School, another island community off the coast of Coron.

As of present, Smart Communications, along with various donors have already delivered 18 units of School in a Bag.

If you are interested in becoming a School in a Bag donor, simply shoot an email to

More photos of the School in a Bag turnover here.

What would you do to help?