DEAF, Inc. is a non-profit organization that focuses on the education of deaf Filipinos. It was started by a mother and daughter missionary team from America (Rev. Ada Mable Coryell and daughter Rev. Aimee Ada Coryell). The organization has been in existence for 44 years. It is now being led by Chairman Dr. Cecilio K. Pedro (also the CEO and President of Lamoiyan Corporation).
The DEAF College is 7.5 kilometers away from the main road of Cavinti, Laguna and is located in the southern end of Sierra Madre mountain range. It is the only college level school in the municipality and is home to at least 200 students and staff. They offer free education for both hearing and hearing-impaired students. Almost all of the students stay in the community throughout the duration of a school semester. The school can only be reached by a 4X4 vehicle or tractor during the rainy season.
The DEAF College is situated in an ecologically strategic location. The school property (more than 80 hectares) is home to a small virgin (old-growth) forest, springs, streams, and rich wildlife. It is just a few kilometers outside of Caliraya-Lumot Lakes and Watershed and surrounded by a secondary forest (regrown after major disturbance / deforestation). The area is also within 8 kilometers from the recently discovered Cavinti Underground River and Caves Complex. Public access to this natural wonder can only be made by entering DEAF College property.
Cavinti Underground River and Caves Complex
Forest and creek within the DEAF College property
But all of these natural treasures are in danger of destruction. The main source of income of the people in the area are illegal logging, charcoal-making, and wildlife poaching. The opening of the cave system to tourist also poses a threat to the eco-system in the area. These natural resources will be gone in no time if not protected or managed well.
Deforestation in the second-growth forest
A 10-hectare area has been offered by DEAF, Inc. to CIC in Brgy. Paowin, Cavinti, Laguna, through its chairman Dr. Cecilio Pedro, as the main project site of CIC. CIC intends to help the community at DEAF College setup environmental conservation programs. The resulting projects will benefit the school community and the local residents by providing sustainable livelihood for the people.
CIC has also started dialogues with the Cavinti, Laguna local government unit (LGU) through Municipal Mayor Milbert Oliveros in initiating a concerted effort for the community. The Cavinti Mayor’s priority projects are reforestation, development of organic agriculture and eco-tourism for the municipality. These are all in line with CIC’s plans for the community at DEAF College. Partnership with the local government will be a key factor in the success of any community-based conservation initiative.
In mid-2019, some of the CIC board members visited the DEAF site in Cavinti to check in and reconnect. Pastor Buddy Cuare (blue shirt), with his wife Helen, is the current DEAF Director.
This is one of the earliest trees planted on the DEAF site.
Now it's grown into a beautiful flowering tree.