The Indigenous People community of the remote Barangay Happy Hallow in Baguio City is now connected to three (3) new Free Wi-Fi sites, enabling them access to Internet connectivity to meet online learning needs for the upcoming school year.

“One of the primary goals of our intensified Free Wi-Fi for All Program is to connect educators and learners and enable them continued access to quality education, in view of President Duterte’s directives to the IATF to prioritize connectivity for education amid the public health emergency,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.

Happy Hallow Elementary School, Happy Hallow National High School, and the Happy Hallow Barangay Hall are now connected via the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Luzon Cluster 1’s (LC-1) Free Wi-Fi For All Program in partnership with the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO).

Department of Education (DepEd) Baguio Schools Division Superintendent Marie Carolyn Verano said the the internet installation is vital because the barangay has been selected as a pilot area in Baguio under the new modalities of the educational system by the DepEd

 “Without Wi-Fi, students will not be able to experience blended learning,” Verano said.

The launching of the sites is a welcome development for the community, who had long been connectivity-deprived as a low-lying area surrounded by mountains, making telecommunications services elusive.

“Ang Happy Hallow ay masyadong malayo sa sentro. So, sa lahat ng development ay talagang nahuhuli kami. Lalo na yung High School namin. For you to go there, you have to hike. We are so happy that in a short period of time, nagawa ito purposely para makaabot tayo sa bagong sistema ng education,” Brgy. Captain Joseph Sacley said.

The launching of the sites ensued on 05 August 2020 at the Happy Hallow Barangay Hall. One of the highlights of the event is a successful simulation of an online learning session conducted by teachers in the barangay to demonstrate the practical benefits of the program. DICT Luzon Cluster 1 Director Engr. Leo Ugto, BENECO Representative Joel Anglob, DepEd Baguio Schools Division Superintendent Marie Carolyn Verano, and Happy Hallow Barangay Captain Joseph Sacley led the launching.

Under the arrangement done by DICT-LC1, the DICT provided bandwidth while BENECO provided manpower and facilities. Their fiber optic network was also utilized as digital transmission lines. BENECO Representative Joel Anglob said the partnership between the DICT and BENECO is firm, having the same vision of establishing connectivity to underserved and unserved communities.

“This is only our first step in bridging the digital divide in the barangay. Rest assured that we will implement more projects here. We will set the establishment of a Tech4ED Center so the public can also enjoy free computer usage,” DICT-LC1 Director Leo Ugto said.