As climate change causes water scarcity and contamination in most communities in the country, students from Philippine Science High School – Central Campus deviced a water filter system using a locally abundant material called Bentonite to source clean water from Abacan River for indigenous people. 

With eutrophication and sedimentation prevailing in the Abacan River, Jan Louise Cabrera, Joshua Miguel Danac and mentor Karizz Anne Morante created a filtration system using Bentonite clay—a product of lahar erosion and an effective adsorbent of dirt—to benefit the Aeta community in Barangay Sapangbato in Angeles, City Pampanga. 

The innovation earned the Best Bayanihan Project title at the Hyundai New Thinkers Spotlight recently held at the Hyundai Center for Green Innovation in Angat, Bulacan. 

Their project entitled “Bentonite Absorbent as a Technological Improvement of Sapangbato Waters” bested 19 other climate change intervention projects and bagged medals, certificates, and a cash prize of P90,000 for the team. The students were also awarded college scholarship grants courtesy of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) Foundation. 

“Water scarcity is a serious problem that already affects more than 1.2 billion people in the world and climate change worsens this problem as excessive groundwater extraction causes land subsidence and increases vulnerability to flooding,” said Cabrera and Danac during their project defense. “With our project, we are able to make use of available resource such as Bentonite to provide a means in bringing clean water to the Aeta communities in Sapangbato.” 

They said the filtration system can also serve as model for other communities to adopt as an alternative way to source potable water. 

“With improvements to our prototype filter, we believe that this can be of value to many other communities faced with the same problem,” they added. 

The Hyundai New Thinkers Spotlight is the culminating phase of the Hyundai New Thinkers Circuit (HNTC) Program—a collaborative program of HARI Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology - Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), together with the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) and Marine Science Institute (MSI). The program aimed to develop students into becoming future climate scientists and leaders. 

In the said Spotlight, 20 school teams showcased their innovative community development projects through exhibits and project presentations to compete for 20 scholarship slots. The Bayanihan projects were evaluated based on ingenuity, efficiency, sustainability, and the students’ overall participation in the HNTC cycle. 

Emilio Bernabe High School’s Neal Renz Empleo, Sheena Coleen Labampa and coach Marites Banzon placed second with 90.1 points for their project “Motorized Boat Made of Junked Home Appliances as Alternate to Rubber Boat during Flood Rescue Operations”. They won medals, certificates, a cash prize of P75,000 and two scholarship slots. 

Kasarinlan High School’s “Hydrocab”project, Philippine Science High School – Main Campus’ “Incorporation of Coir Geotextile, Aeration, and Rice Husk Filter into Localized Home Rainwater Harvesting”, and Sisters of Mary School’s “Electroschwartz Vertical Axis Wind Turbine” rounded up the top five. 

Completing the top 10 are Marcelo H. Del Pilar National High School (rPLANT Project), Pateros National High School (Eco-Riders), Claro M. Recto Information and Communication Technology High School (5 E’s in Waste Segregation), Mariveles National High School (Biodegradable Tamarind Seed-Based Plastic: A Remedy for the Changing Climate), and Valenzuela City Science High School (H2O FLOOD). 

Students from said schools comprised the 20 Hyundai New Thinkers Scholars. Their college studies shall be supported by HARI Foundation provided they choose a science course. 

HARI Foundation President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo congratulated the participants and encouraged them to be leaders in whichever field they choose in the future. 

“We stand here with a dream to drive a new world of possibilities for our young people, the leaders and innovators of tomorrow,” said Agudo. 

She also urged the Hyundai New Thinkers to be “part of the solution” as the answers could already be in front of them. 

“You are more than brilliant scholars. You are a spark of hope for a better world,” disclosed Agudo. 

Dr. Josette Biyo, the new Director of DOST-SEI, urged the students to continue to exemplify leadership in their own schools and communities even after the HNTC Program. 

“Think of this event as a practice session for your would-be daily undertaking once you’ve become a scientist, engineer or a community leader,” Biyo said as she encouraged the participants to choose science courses in college. 

The HNT Scholars, who will be required to take up S&T courses to avail of the scholarship, will be provided support in their tuition and other fees as well as a monthly stipend courtesy of HARI Foundation. (30)