The construction of the two three-storey buildings donated by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to the Visayas State University Tolosa campus is currently at its final phase.

The buildings, one for offices and classes, and another one as dormitory, are the promised assistance of the Korean agency after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, in 2013. VSU Tolosa was left devastated. It almost stopped operating because of the severity of damage to the buildings and facilities.

However, then Dean of the Tolosa campus Dr. Roberta Lauzon, and then VSU president Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, with the help of Korean volunteer at that time, exerted joint efforts to connect with KOICA for assistance.

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After a site visit from the foreign agency, construction began in July 2016. The initial fund allocated for the building was 4 million dollars, or around 200 million-pesos. On top of the buildings, KOICA also donated equipment worth 12 million pesos. These would include computers, office furniture, projectors, and laboratory equipment, among others.

According to Dr. Lelius Apostol of VSU Tolosa’s Planning and Development Office, the main building—equipped with an elevator—will house the administrative offices, faculty rooms, campus library, conference room, classrooms, computer laboratory, research and extension office, and departmental offices. There will also be a cafeteria, exclusive for employees and faculty, and a permanent office for a KOICA volunteer.

Internet connectivity is a constant challenge to the campus but Dr. Apostol assured that it is already underway. However, the planning head said that internet provision will be limited and will be exclusively available to the students through the e-library of the new building.

The dormitories, Dr. Apostol said, can cater to about 200 students, with eight students per unit. There are two rooms allocated for differently abled students, complete with PWD-friendly toilets and facilities. The building will also have its own cafeteria, study, and laundry rooms.

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“The dormitory will be guarded 24/7 and it is open for all bonafide student of VSU-Tolosa. However, students coming from distant places will be prioritized. It would benefit the students because they don’t have to commute from far away places anymore, or look for a safer place to stay. When they will be in VSU, they will be assured that they are safe,” Dr. Apostol said.

Dr. Obdulia Camoying, Dean of the Tolosa campus, expressed her gratitude to KOICA for the big assistance the agency has extended to the campus, and even dubbed it as a “donation for a lifetime.”

“When the building will finally be turned over to us, we will be more organized. Also, the students were very happy and excited to have this building. And it has made them even more proud to be part of VSU,” the dean added.

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John Michael Leona, a fourth year BS in Fisheries student, also expressed his excitement over the new buildings, state-of-the-art facilities and coming laboratory equipment which would raise the competency of the campus with the bigger universities in the neighboring areas.

“It would be most useful to the students because of its new facilities, making it conducive for learning,” Leona quipped.

Upon completion of the new structure, the campus’ existing administration building will be converted into a registration area.  Some of the old buildings will be retained for instruction purposes because of the expected increase of enrollees in the next school year.

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Currently, VSU Tolosa has more than 2,000 students, with BS in Criminology having the majority of the population.

VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin shares the excitement of the VSU Tolosa community as the new edifices are nearing completion. He expressed in an interview how these modern structures represent friendship and resilience.

"The whole VSU system will be forever grateful to KOICA for this wonderful project. These new buildings are a symbol of our country's friendship with the Korean people and their government. It is also a representation of how resilient we are that despite of a devastating calamity like typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan], we can all rise up and rebuild our hopes and dreams by working together as one community," Dr. Tulin said.

The new buildings will be turned over from the contractors to KOICA on March 7. The equipment is estimated to arrive on March 23 and the fully furnished buildings are expected to be inaugurated by April of this year.

The turnover from the Korean agency to VSU is yet to be scheduled in late March or early April.