ALMOST every single success story can be traced back to an earlier failure, and the journey of a Cebu-based student organization that won big at the recently-concluded 14th Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) awards was no exception.

Hours after Project Aquaria of Cebu Institute of Technology’s (CIT) Industrial Engineering (IE) Council took the Coca-cola’s Barkada Water Stewardship Award, its president Erlyn Ivy Rago was sporting a smile as she revealed how the victory took her by surprise.

According to Rago, Project Aquaria originated from an earlier entry for a tech firm's competition. It ended up placing 1st runner up, but the group wanted to keep the project alive.

"Pagkatapos ng competition, sabi [namin] 'saan na pupunta yung app?' Hanggang dun lang ba yon?"

Finally in the summer of 2016, a perfect opportunity to revive Aquaria came in the form of a crisis: Cebu was placed under state of calamity due to water shortage.

The group decided to breathe a new life into Aquaria, this time as a four-pronged approach to campaign for water conservation.

Since then, Aquaria has developed into a mobile application for children that teaches health, sanitation, and hygiene workshops. They have also organized school caravans to encourage young students in Metro Cebu to save water.

According to Cecile Alcantara, President of Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, they awarded Aquaria the P30,000 grant since the project shares their same vision on water conservation.

"Since last year kasi ang focus namin [at Coke is] water. That’s why we chose them. And it’s a very innovative project that they have. They have an app that they’re developing that teaches students how to save water. Interactive sya. And I think they’re developing it for the Playstore," Alcantara said.

Coke has committed that by 2020, "all the water that we use in our beverages and production, we return to nature and communities," she added.

At the moment, Aquaria is not yet available on the Playstore and can only be played in Android. Rago said the money they won will be of great help in making the app more accessible to the public. (JEV/SunStar Philippines)