Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University

Best Practice Focus Area/s

Leadership, Citizens / Customers

Year Implemented

15 June 2017 to present

This is a GBPR entry


The Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University – North La Union Campus (DMMMSU-NLUC) launched the Communities Understand and Respect (CURe) the Sea project on 15 June 2017 as an extension and community development program. It was patterned after the special project Children Understand and Respect the Environment – the Sea by former 1st District of La Union Congressman Victor F. Ortega and former San Fernando City Mayor Mary Jane C. Ortega, but expanded the beneficiaries from children to entire communities.

It expands from the typical state university to the Department of Education (DepEd) teacher-student beneficiaries framework to community collaboration, with the participation of the provincial and municipal government units, concerned line agencies, private companies, civil society organizations, barangay officials, fisherfolk, women associations, and the youth.

Background and Problem

The province of La Union has a total coastline of 114 kilometers, with 13 of its 20 LGUs bordering the West Philippine Sea. Coastal areas and the sea are thus major sources of livelihood for its population. Unfortunately, these have been exploited heavily, leading to degradation, pollution, and overfishing, which have resulted in low catch and unproductive fishing efforts.

The project aims to increase the level of awareness and understanding of community stakeholders in the protection, conservation, utilization, and management of marine environment and resources, including coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses and seaweeds, foreshores, and estuaries, through an intensive education and information drive which incorporates basic life-saving and coastal disaster preparedness activities.

In celebration of the 58th Fish Conservation Week, DMMMSU-NLUC-FRTI and partner organizations facilitated the conduct of the 12th Communities Understand and Respect (CURe) the Sea Seminar-Workshop at the Ortega Marine Educational Center, FRTI Compound, Paraoir, Bacnotan, La Union last 22 September 2021.

Solution and Impact

The CURe the Sea project is an extension and community development program that applies functionalist and systems theories of change by disrupting the equilibrium or usual detrimental community practices and recognizing the roles of individuals in protecting the marine environment as their primary source of livelihood.

The DMMMSU-NLUC conducted participatory planning workshops and subsequently forged Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) or Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the following partners in both the public and private sectors:

  • Among local governments, the provincial government of La Union, the municipal governments of Bacnotan, Balaoan, and Luna, as well as multiple barangays;
  • Among national government agencies, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and DepEd;
  • Among the local community, the Almeda Fisherfolks Association, Paraoir Fisherfolks Association, Women Aquatic Processing Association, and groups of out-of-school youths, students, and teachers;
  • Among the private sector, Holcim Philippines, The Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Inner Wheel, and the Rotary Club of San Fernando City, La Union.

The project has been able to reach 385 community-participants, 300 teacher-participants, and over 5,000 student-participants from the 18 coastal barangays of Bacnotan, Balaoan, and Luna. Their increased awareness and commitment are evidenced by the regular conduct of coastal clean-up, the enactment and strict implementation of ordinances and resolutions related to coastal protection and management, such as regulated fishing and collection of marine resources, the prevention of garbage disposal along the coast, and the planting of mangroves.

A partnership has also been made with 165 seaweed farmers and 190 sea urchin farmers to generate a quarterly seaweed and sea urchin production of 24,750 kilograms and 38,000 kilograms, respectively, as well as a partnership with the Women Aquatic Processing Association for the post-harvest processing of seaweeds and sea urchins for food and non-food products.

DMMMSU’s poster on Communities Understand and Respect (CURe) the Sea won 2nd place in the Poster Development Category during the 32nd Ilocos Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (ILAARRDEC) Regional Symposium on R&D Highlights via Zoom last 16-17 March 2021.

Milestones/Next Steps

The project has led to the establishment of marine protected areas in seven barangays of the three municipalities—5.50 hectares in Bacnotan, 1.07 hectares in Balaoan, and 2.20 hectares in Luna—and the establishment of Immuki Island in Balaoan as a tourist destination. LGUs involved in the project have also won various government searches for Outstanding Coastal Community, Outstanding Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council, and the Cleanest, Safest, and Greenest Municipal Bodies of Water. Another milestone is establishing the 17 million peso Ortega Marine Educational Center and Guestel, which serves as accommodation for participants and speakers during training-workshops.

DMMMSU-NLUC has committed to ensuring the continuing conduct of training-workshops with additional beneficiaries from the other 10 LGUs in La Union with coastal areas.