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The Commission on Higher Education – Caraga Regional Office hosted a series of activities in celebration of the 3rd National Higher Education Day (NHED) and 29th CHED Founding Anniversary at Siargao Island from June 19 to 23, 2023, in conjunction with hosting the 2nd Quarter National Directorate Meeting (NDM).

Signed into law in 2021 by former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Republic Act No. 11522 declares May 18 as the National Higher Education Day in commemoration of the Commission’s founding anniversary on the same date in 1994.

Following a brief postponement, the activities were finally conducted with the participation of the CHED Chairperson, Dr. J. Prospero E. De Vera III; the four CHED Commissioners, Dr. Ronald L. Adamant, Dr. Aldrin A. Darilag, Dr. Marita R. Canapi, and Dr. Jo Mark M. Libre; CHED Executive Director Atty. Cinderella Filipina S. Benitez-Jaro; the OIC Executive Director of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Atty. Ryan L. Estevez; and the Directors from the CHED Central and Regional Offices.

The celebrations were centered around the theme, “Ang May Mas Mataas na Pinag-aralan, Malakas, Matalino, at Mapagmahal sa Bayan,” and consisted of the following activities: A Padyak! 2023 Cycling Marathon, Tree-Planting Activity, Higher Education Institutions (HEI) Techno-Innovation Exhibit, and the Gawad Parangal 2023.

On June 20th, the Padyak! 2023 Cycling Marathon was held. The marathon began at the Boulevard, General Luna at 6:00. Chairman De Vera and 52 other cyclists, many from the Siargao Bikers Club, then cycled the Padyak route to a half-way stop at Brgy. Osmena, Dapa, where the tree-planting activity was held.

The tree-planting activity was attended by CHED directors, Siargao Island Institute of Technology students and faculty, Local Government Unit (LGU) officials and workers, and representatives from the Department of Environmental Resources (DENR) – Surigao Del Norte Province, with whom the regional office partnered. A total of 120 trees were planted, the majority of which were Narra trees.

The cyclists continued through to the finish line, and the Padyak! 2023 culminated at the Sayak Covered Court where Chairman De Vera completed the 30-kilometer route. He was warmly welcomed by students and Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) beneficiaries from Surigao Del Norte State University (SNSU) – Del Carmen, Siargao Island Institute of Technology (SIIT), and LGU personnel. There, an awarding ceremony commenced where the chairman conferred medals to the top finishers of the Padyak! Marathon, and bicycles to winners in special categories.

During the awarding ceremony, he also met with two TES Beneficiaries residing in Siargao, who shared their TEStimonials and gratitude to the Chairman and CHED-UniFAST. Chairman De Vera presented the two beneficiaries with bicycles.

Later in the day, the HEI Techno-Innovation Exhibit was opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, led by Comm. Darilag, Comm. Canapi, and Comm. Adamat. The exhibit, opened to the public from June 20 to 22, 2023, provided a platform for HEIs, government organizations, and students to showcase their technological innovations and research projects. CHED Central and Regional officials, local senior high school students, and personnel from LGUs visited and browsed through the exhibits.

Finally, the Gawad Parangal 2023 was held later that evening at the Siargao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SIARELCO) Hall, Dapa. During the ceremony, awards were given to Higher Education Institutions with notable achievements for the period of 2021-2023 in the following categories: Matalino, Malakas, and Mapagmahal Sa Bayan. Recognition was also given to partner SUCs, HEIs, Associations, Line Agencies, and Local Government Units whose assistance helped make the 3rd NHED celebration activities possible.

The CHED Caraga Regional Office would like to thank the following partner HEIs for their unwavering support that contributed to the success of the activities: Agusan Del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology (ASSCAT), Caraga State University (CSU), Northeastern Mindanao State University (NEMSU), Surigao Del Norte State University (SNSU), Andres Soriano Colleges of Bislig (ASCB), Bucas Grande Foundation College (BGFC), Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU), Merchant Marine Academy of Caraga, Inc. (MMACI), Northern Mindanao Colleges (NORMI), Northeastern Mindanao Colleges (NEMCO), Philippine Electronics and Communication Institute of Technology (PECIT), Saint Joseph Thaddeus Institute of Technology (SJTIT), Southway College of Technology (SOCOTECH), Siargao Island Institute of Technology (SIIT), and Surigao Education College (SEC).

Furthermore, the Regional Office would like to recognize and thank the following Organizations, LGUs, and Regional Line Agencies for their support and assistance: the Caraga Higher Education Institutions Association of Presidents and Heads (CHEIAPH) headed by its President, Mr. Inocencio “Bobet” Angeles Jr., the Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga Regional Office, the Philippine Science High School – Caraga Region Campus (PSHS-CRC), the DENR Caraga Regional Office and the Surigao Del Norte Provincial Office, Surigao Del Norte Police Provincial Office, Siargao Bikers Club, and the Local Government Units of the Municipalities of General Luna, Pilar, San Isidro, Del Carmen, and Dapa.