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The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Caraga Regional Office organized the Padyak! 2023 cycling marathon at Siargao Island on June 20, 2023 as part of the activities held in celebration of the 3rd National Higher Education Day (NHED) and 29th CHED Founding Anniversary with the theme, “Ang May Mas Mataas na Pinag-aralan, Malakas, Matalino, at Mapagmahal sa Bayan.

An advocacy program launched by CHED Chairperson Dr. J. Prospero E. De Vera III in 2021 during the 1st National Higher Education Day, the Padyak! caravan brought awareness to the successes of higher education across the country through the sport of cycling. With the conduct of the Caraga leg of the caravan in Siargao Island, Chairperson De Vera has now brought Padyak! to all regions in the Philippines.

Organized in partnership with Agusan Del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology (ASSCAT) and with the support of Surigao Del Norte State University (SNSU), Siargao Island Institute of Technology (SIIT), and the Local Government Units (LGUs) of the Municipalities of General Luna, Dapa, San Isidro, Del Carmen, and Pilar, the Padyak! 2023 consisted of a 30-kilometer route beginning from General Luna and culminating at Brgy. Sayak, Del Carmen, with one stop in between at Brgy. Osmeña, Dapa.

The marathon began at 6:00 in the morning of Tuesday, June 20, with the registration of participants at the Boulevard area, General Luna. Vital signs were also taken to ensure cyclists were in good physical condition to take on the route. Heavy rain did not deter the cyclists, as a total of 53 cyclists registered to participate. Dr. Criseldo Calinawan, CHED Caraga Education Supervisor II and the Lead Focal Person for Padyak! 2023, gave a briefing regarding the route and directions for cyclists to take.Shortly after, Chairperson De Vera gave the declaration of the official start of Padyak! 2023.

Joining the Chairperson in the Padyak! 2023 were CHED MIMAROPA Regional Director, Atty. Joselito Alisuag, and the recently-retired former Regional Director of CHED Caraga, Dr. George M. Colorado. With them were the 50-strong cyclists from the Siargao Bikers Club. 

The cyclists arrived at the halfway-point stopover at Osmeña, Dapa, to participate in the tree-planting ceremony organized by CHED Caraga as part of the 3rd NHED festivities.

The tree-planting ceremony was organized by CHED Caraga in partnership with ASSCAT as part of its environmental advocacy program that began in 2022, and in support of the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP), spearheaded by the Department of Natural Resources (DENR).   

The DENR Surigao Del Norte Provincial Office provided 100 Narra seedlings and Surigao Education Center (SEC) provided 20 seedlings, for a total of 120 seedlings planted.

Participating in the planting were CHED Central and Regional Directors, CHED Caraga personnel, Siargao Island Institute of Technology students and faculty, Dapa LGU officials and workers, and representatives from DENR Surigao Del Norte Province. 

While planting the Narra seedlings into the plots of earth along the highway, planters were serenaded by a song performance by the SNSU Culture and Arts group, Divaritone. Student marshalls from SIIT assisted the planters

Furthermore, the participants also declared their continued support to the joint efforts of CHED Caraga and DENR with the signing of the Pledge of Support. The tree-planting ceremony concluded with breakfast for the planters and cyclists before once again commencing the Padyak!

The bikers continued through to the finish line, and the Padyak! 2023 culminated at the Sayak Covered Court where Chairperson De Vera completed the 30-kilometer route. He was warmly welcomed by cheering students and Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) beneficiaries from SNSU Del Carmen and SIIT. Del Carmen Municipal Mayor Hon. Alfredo M. Coro, former Del Carmen Mayor Engr. Baby M. Coro, Barangay Captain of Sayak, Hon. Margarito J. Sulima, and ASSCAT President Dr. Joy C. Capistrano welcomed the Chairperson as well. The culmination program of Padyak! 2023 commenced with messages from Hon. Coro and Dr. Capistrano.

An awarding ceremony was held where medals were conferred to the top finishers of the Padyak! Marathon and bicycles to winners in special categories. Mayor Coro, Dr. Capistrano, and CHED Caraga Chief Education Program Specialist Dr. Julia Felisa C. Martinez joined Chairperson De Vera in conferring the awards.

Ms. Rena C. Liza and Mr. Pilarito II F. Orejas, two TES beneficiaries who recently graduated from SNSU Del Carmen and SIIT respectively, were given the opportunity to share their TEStimonials and express emotional messages of thanks to the Chairperson. They were awarded with their own bicycles by the Chairman.

Special prizes were also given to the youngest and oldest cyclists in the male and female categories. Dr. Colorado, having won a bicycle as the overall oldest cyclist at 65 years old, facilitated an impromptu raffle draw contest among the TES beneficiaries, to which one lucky student won the draw and took home the bicycle.

The Padyak! Cycling Marathon concluded with a celebratory atmosphere as plaques of appreciation were awarded to the partner SUCs, HEIs, Associations, Line Agencies, and Local Government Units whose assistance helped make the Padyak! in Siargao island. Chairperson De Vera closed the program with a message celebrating the continued triumphs of quality free higher education.

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) as the partner organizer for the cycling marathon, tree-planting activities; Surigao Del Norte State University (SNSU) for providing the talented performance group Divaritone, student attendees, and logistical support; Siargao Island Institute of Technology (SIIT) for providing logistical support and student marshalls; and Surigao Education College (SEC) for providing additional seedlings.

Furthermore, the Regional Office would like to recognize and thank the following Organizations, Regional Line Agencies, and LGUs for their support and assistance: 

  • Caraga Higher Education Institutions Association of Presidents and Heads (CHEIAPH) headed by its President, Mr. Inocencio “Bobet” Angeles Jr.;
  • DENR Caraga Regional Office and the Surigao Del Norte Provincial Office;
  • The Surigao Del Norte Provincial Police Office, Siargao Municipal Police Stations, MDRRMO and RHU of Del Carmen, San Isidro, Pilar, Dapa and General Luna;
  • Siargao Bikers Club;
  • The LGU of the Municipality of General Luna headed by its Mayor, Hon. Sol F. Matugas
  • The LGU of the Municipality of Pilar headed by its Mayor, Hon. Maria Liza G. Resurreccion
  • The LGU of the Municipality of San Isidro headed by its Mayor, Hon. Lamberto Domiños Jr.
  • The LGU of the Municipality of Del Carmen headed by its Mayor, Hon. Alfredo M. Coro
  • The LGU of the Municipality of Dapa headed by its Mayor, Hon. Elizabeth T. Matugas

More stories and photos to follow regarding the activities conducted in celebration of the 3rd National Higher Education Day and 29th CHED Founding Anniversary! Stay updated by following the official CHED Caraga Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/chedcaragaph, and the official website at www.chedcaraga.ph.