students of Marasbaras Elementary School have their own sad
stories to tell about Typhoon Yolanda but the new schoolbuilding
donated by Coca-Cola Foundation/Coke Atlanta in partnership with
Philippine Business for Social Progress gives them something to
look forward to each day.
Helping Yolanda survivors
One year after the
typhoon, PBSP continues to lead the business sector’s efforts in
rebuilding the lives of school communities in the Visayas
By REGGIE MARIE B. BARRIENTOS
November 7, 2014
TACLOBAN CITY – It
has been a year since Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the strongest
tropical cyclones to hit the country, reduced to wasteland the towns
in Leyte and Eastern Samar, claiming thousands of lives, and washing
out homes, schools, properties, and livelihood.
While the people have
started to rebuild their lives with whatever little resources they
have, many are still reeling from the trauma and loss of their loved
But for the school
communities being assisted by Philippine Business for Social Progress
and its member-companies, partners, and donors, the reconstruction of
their classrooms, provision of learning/teaching kits for students and
teachers, supplemental feeding, and capacity building trainings are
giving them something to look forward to each day – the promise of a
better tomorrow through education.
different ways of coping
Caonte is still grieving for her father and grandfather who died while
securing their home during the typhoon on Nov. 8, 2013. She and her
three siblings, cousins, aunt, and uncle managed to survive after
hiding in a bathroom of a commercial building in Tanauan, Leyte.
In spite of her great loss,
the Grade 6 student from Bislig Elementary School dutifully reports
for class every day, braving the heat and cramped spaces of their tent
classroom for two noble reasons – to fulfill her father’s dream for
her to be a teacher, and to be able to share the gift of education to
less fortunate children like her someday.
Caonte’s classmate and
friend Carol Almacin, 12, may be luckier than the former because her
family is still complete and they have managed to rebuild their home
with scrap materials right after the storm. But until now, Carol is
suffering from a severe trauma after she and her siblings were tied to
a coconut tree while braving the huge waves of the storm. Since
classes resumed last December 2, she would hurriedly go back home
every time it rained for fear that the horrific ordeal would happen
all over again.
It’s the other way around for Nicole Cordero, a Grade 5 student of Sto.
Niño Elementary School, who would console her mother who was terribly
shaken by the disaster. In the middle of her duties in the house, she
would break down at the memory of the torrential rains. During the
typhoon, Nicole and her two siblings sought refuge at her
grandmother’s home while her mother was the one who tried to salvage
what was left of their home. Their father, a security guard, could not
leave his work. To make it easy for her mom, Nicole would study hard
and wake up early to help in the household chores. Her fervent prayer
is for the Lord to not let another Yolanda happen again so her mother
would no longer cry and recover from her trauma.
The ordeal was no different
for sixth grader Daniel Sulit and his family who held on to the
branches of a coconut tree during the storm, praying that they
wouldn’t be swept away by the giant waves. The next day, he had to
search for his other relatives from the lifeless bodies strewn all
over the place. Unlike other children who suffered severe trauma as a
result of such ordeal, Daniel turned it into an opportunity to perform
well in school. From being an average student, he is now at the top of
his class at the Tugop Elementary School in Tanauan, Leyte. Daniel
credits the Lord for this life-changing experience. He said that he
vowed to study hard after the storm because the Lord gave him a second
Out of the many different
stories of survival and resilience from the disaster, perhaps the most
inspiring is that of the Lagarto family. Enriquita and Dioscoro got
separated from each other during the storm. Enriquita fled with her
five children to a safer ground while Dioscoro was still in their home
when the huge waves engulfed it. While trying hard not to be swept
away by the waves, provisions kept floating out of nowhere in his
direction. First, uncooked rice, then came hotdog, cooking oil, and
even kitchen utensils.
Right after the storm, the
children aged 11, 10, 9, 6, and 4, took it upon themselves to help
provide food for the family. At that time, their mother was sick and
their father was injured. The eldest child, Christian Lagarto, led his
siblings in picking up the galvanized iron sheets that were strewn all
over their neighborhood, and selling them to make money. They earned
P2,000 for it and immediately gave it to their father who was
surprised and deeply moved. Later, the sixth grader from Bislig
Elementary School also convinced his father to allow him and his
siblings to sell 1.5 Coca-Cola bottles to their neighbors. Their
3-for-P100 promo was such a hit that they earned P4,000 capital money
to use for reopening their sari-sari store.
The Lagartos are now doing
brisk business through a bigger and well-stocked sari-sari store. The
family is on their way to a bright future, thanks to their unwavering
faith, loving parents, helpful children, and an entrepreneurial son
who hopes to get a scholarship to finish school and help support his
Teachers Rosario Polenio of
Bislig Elementary School and Tito Pajares of Marasbaras Elementary
School have shown exceptional service and true heroism during the
Safely tucked in the comfort
of their sturdy home in Tacloban, Rosario and her family took in seven
families who rushed to their place to escape the monstrous waves that
ravaged their homes. Even though she barely knew these people, Rosario
fed them, clothed them, and kept them safe and warm in their home long
after the storm was over.
Today, Rosario continues to
play Good Samaritan, this time to her students who lost their parents
and relatives by giving them the much-needed love, comfort, and care.
When Teacher Tito and his
family returned to their house from his brother’s place after the
storm, he was devastated to find his home, and property earned after
27 years of working as a teacher, totally wiped out. Until now, he and
his family are staying in a bunk house in Tacloban and still
struggling to return to normal.
selflessly prioritized the needs of his students in Marasbaras ES by
seeking for prospective donors who can help rebuild their school which
was 70 percent destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda.
Soon enough, a six-classroom
building called the Little Red Schoolhouse of Coca-Cola
Foundation/Coke Atlanta has been built at the place through the
assistance of PBSP, and is bringing immense joy to the Grades 4 and 5
eager students and teachers who couldn’t wait to transfer to the new
“The building is so
beautiful. At night, it glimmers in the dark sky, serving as a beacon
and motivation for us to move on and continue reaching for our
dreams,” Tito said.
PBSP launched Project New
Dawn last June 18 as its collective response to the long term
rehabilitation needs of the Visayas region. The programs aim to assist
in the immediate recovery and rehabilitation of areas most affected by
the super typhoon. Some of these programs are on repair of barangay
health stations, provision of motorized boats, mangrove reforestation
and installation of potable water systems, among many others.
In education, PBSP
member-companies, donors, partners, and aid agencies were able to give
various kinds of assistance worth P167.51 million to Yolanda-affected
schools in Tanauan, Tacloban, Marasbaras, Tugop, Bislig, Sto. Niño and
Isabel in Leyte; Giporlos and Salcedo in Eastern Samar; Tabogon, Bogo,
Daanbantayan, Bantayan island in Cebu; Inabanga, Bohol; and Estancia,
Carles, and Lambunao, Iloilo.
These were in the form of
classroom/school reconstruction and repair, provision of starter kits,
teacher kits, school uniforms, shoes and chairs, supplemental feeding,
psychosocial trainings for teachers, and capacity building trainings
for parents, teachers, school heads, and the Local School Boards.
Among the benefactors are
Dow Chemical Pacific Ltd, Epson Precision (Philippines), Inc. (EPPI),
Telus/Navegar, CTBC, National Bookstore, Mondelez International, Intel
Philippines, Felta Multi-Media, Inc., Coke Atlanta 2014/Coke
Philippines, L’Oreal Philippines, Inc., GMA/Yes Pinoy Foundation,
Flour Daniel, Insular Life, Deloitte Navarro Amper & Co. (Deloitte
Philippines), We Can Be Anything, Ace Insurance, Lear Automotives, and
the Australian government.
Vice President Jon Ramon Aboitiz (in white) speaks to delegates
to the Aboitiz Future Leaders Summit inside the historic Don
Ramon Aboitiz ancestral house in Cebu City.
Kool Adventure Camp
facilitates team challenges for 9th AFLBS
By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation
September 4, 2014
CEBU CITY – Close to
a thousand student leaders from different colleges and universities in
the Philippines experienced powerful learning through the Ramon
Aboitiz Foundation-Kool Adventure Camp (RAFI-KAC) during the 9th
Aboitiz Future Leaders Business Summit (AFLBS) last August 15 to 16.
For the eighth time, KAC was
tapped to provide integration and low initiative games and
team-building exercises to the AFLBS delegates, who gathered at the
Marco Polo Plaza Hotel for the summit themed “Significantly Changing
The summit aimed to provide
student leaders with a refreshed outlook about the country. It also
posed a challenge for the Filipino youth to step out of their
collegiate mindset, look into the future and aspire to become among
the country’s promising leaders in the field they plan to pursue.
The summit featured plenary
discussions, games, team-building exercises, work simulation, and
KAC also facilitated a
pre-summit activity to give delegates a deeper understanding about the
history of the Aboitizes, particularly learning about how the family
handled its corporate office.
The participants also had
time to paint benches at the Persimmon for beneficiary schools and
visited Fort San Pedro, one of Cebu City’s historical landmarks, while
having the opportunity to know more on their fellow participants.
“My most significant
learning after the Kool Adventure Camp team challenges during the
summit was having the ‘I CAN’ attitude. Nothing will be left undone if
I will do everything I can to get something done. ‘I CANNOT’ is a
deadly option. Nothing is impossible if I would just give it all the
best I got,” said Harold Sapues, student delegate from the University
of Cebu, on his experience with KAC.
Another AFBLS participant
also shared that as leaders they must not think of themselves as above
others in terms of status.
“One of the learning that
struck me was the extreme pipeline activity of Kool Adventure Camp,
where we needed to kneel down and pass through the obstacles to be
able to transfer the ball to its target basket. I realized that as a
student leader we need to humble ourselves in everything we do,” said
Caitline Perez of Mapua Institute of Technology.
University of Philippines
Mindanao’s Gian Paulo Paglinawan mentioned also the extreme pipeline
activity in his learning, saying it taught him that he must also
impart the same passion for change to others and to empower them.
“Most of the KAC activities
taught me to enjoy the learning process and appreciate the efforts a
person contributes to succeed at a specific challenge. I can
personally contribute on significantly changing my Philippines...by
passing on the knowledge and skills I learned from the summit,” he
His fellow UP Mindanao
student Jumarie Albit, on the other hand, mentioned the importance of
communication and in listening to and understanding the people he
KAC has been offering
adventure education programs on leadership and team development for
youth and professionals in the last decade. It is a program under the
leadership and citizenship focus area of RAFI.
For more information on KAC
and its services, contact 260-9000 local 1001 and look for Althea May
Santillan, or visit www.kac.rafi.org.ph or www.facebook.com/kooladventurecamp.
BETTER. With the support of partners, RAFI has repaired and
redesigned this two-classroom school building in Tapilon
National High School, Daanbantayan, Cebu. The Foundation will
complete in August the construction and repair of 184 classrooms
in 46 schools and 20 day care centers in the northern Cebu towns
of Bantayan, Daanbantayan, Madridejos, and Sta. Fe.
completion of school rehab in August
By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation
July 29, 2014
CEBU CITY – Cognizant
of the need for an estimated 9,000 students to already have their
classrooms back, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) has assured
that all 184 classrooms that are part of its rehabilitation efforts in
northern Cebu would be ready for use by end of next month.
RAFI Education Development
Unit Executive Director Anthony Dignadice said construction is ongoing
at a rapid and efficient pace to ensure quality classrooms are built
at the soonest possible time.
At 45 students per
classroom, RAFI’s Post-Yolanda School Rehabilitation Project would
benefit at least 9,000 students in 46 schools in Daanbantayan,
Madridejos, Sta. Fe, and Bantayan towns in northern Cebu.
“By the end of August, we
are assured that 9,000 students are already able to have a much better
classroom they can use already,” Dignadice said.
He said the new classrooms
are now designed to be more disaster-resilient compared to the old
“We already showed the
design to them and they were really clapping their hands… They were
happy,” he added.
Build back better
RAFI’s school building
design includes stronger column beams, elevated flooring, a lavatory
and water closet, roof insulation and natural ventilation, two solid
panel doors and jalousie windows per classroom, concaved blackboards,
and two ceiling fans per classroom.
Having partnered with the
Department of Education (DepED)-7, RAFI strove to repair existing
classrooms and build new ones in the aftermath of Super Typhoon
With its target of building
184 classrooms and 20 day care centers in Daanbantayan town and the
towns of Bantayan, Santa Fe, and Madridejos in Bantayan Island, RAFI
collaborated with Metaphil in the construction and repair of school
buildings, which is estimated to cost P247.5 million.
Of the 184 classrooms being
built, 86 are in Daanbantayan, 48 in Bantayan, 42 in Madridejos, and
eight in Sta. Fe. As to the day care centers, eight are in
Daanbantayan, four in Bantayan, three in Madridejos, and five in Sta.
In particular, of the 86
classrooms in Daanbantayan, 73 are new constructions; 31 in Bantayan;
26 in Madridejos; and four in Sta. Fe.
Also, the construction and
repair of classrooms in Sta. Fe are being funded in partnership with
the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, which
set aside P4.4 million for the project. As counterpart fund, RAFI
shelled out P3.16 million, while the local government unit allocated
P962,600. The International Labor Organization also gave Sta. Fe
P378,500 for the project.
Metaphil’s Engr. Seymour
Cabellero, in a project completion update, reported that as of June
30, repair of schools in Daanbantayan was already completed while
construction of new classrooms was at 88.88 percent. For the schools
in Madridejos, Sta. Fe, and Bantayan towns, repair was at 97.6 percent
while construction of new classrooms was at 80.09 percent.
For the day care centers,
repair in Daanbantayan was at 88.64 percent while construction of new
ones was at 83.04 percent. For the Bantayan island towns, repair was
93.51 percent while construction of new day care centers was at 83.04
Dignadice said the most
challenging to construct and/or repair were the classrooms in Botigues
and Hilotongan islets in Bantayan Island, as the contractor needed the
materials to be transported by motorized banca from the mainland.
“We also have to work with
the tide. But based on our target completion date, we are still ahead
of schedule by around 10 percent. We can safely say we can finish
everything by August,” Dignadice said.
Cebu Governor Hilario Davide
III earlier asked DepED to hasten the restoration of schools for the
students to have their regular classes inside classrooms already.
He said the Capitol was
willing to assist DepED just so the new classrooms would be ready as
soon as possible.
Since RAFI first evaluated
the damage brought by Yolanda, it found out that many structures,
including those that were just damaged but whose foundations did not
conform to Metaphil standards, had to go, resulting to students not
having classrooms when classes started last June.
To address this, RAFI and
Metaphil constructed more than 100 temporary classrooms made of iron
pipes and tarpaulins.
The temporary classrooms
could be adjusted to provide better ventilation from the sweltering
heat during sunny days and protection from the rain during a downpour.
Dignadice said RAFI chose to
repair classrooms because “the love of learning also has something to
do with the learning environment.”
“We already have the School
Rehabilitation Program (SRP) even before (Super Typhoon) Yolanda
(came). So from the perspective of the SRP, we saw the need to improve
the learning environment, especially the physical facilities of the
northern Cebu schools,” he said.
He was especially happy that
even at a short period starting from the time it embarked on the
project, RAFI has delivered on its promise to build not just a school
building but 184 classrooms.
“In less than six months
(after Yolanda struck), we have a clear response already as to how
many schools we are targeting and the type of support we are giving,”
Army, police join hands
serving depressed communities for development
By JAZMIN BONIFACIO
July 14, 2014
CARIGARA, Leyte – Soldiers and PNP are familiar sights today in rural
areas and in conflict-affected communities, especially in Leyte and
Samar. They cross rivers, climb mountains, reaching far-flung
barangays with difficult terrain and accessibility, is undertaken to
teach the farmers – the basic education, health, proper nutrition,
values education, farming techniques, and income-generating projects,
to help uplift them from the bondage of poverty and ignorance. And
this, apart from their duties to help maintain peace and order.
In line with the Peace and Development Program of the Philippine Army,
troops of the `Charlie’ company of the 19th Infantry battalion Phil
Army and teams from Philippine National Police were warmly received by
the barangay officials and residents of Brgy. Canlampay, Paglaum,
Caghalo, San Isidro and Hiluctugan in Carigara, Leyte last July 2,
Barangay Chairman Narciso Llanza of Brgy. Hiluctugan said “I guess
they are not here to bring war but to change the perception of my
people what soldiers really are.”
And Brgy chairwoman Aurora Quebec of Brgy Caghalo, Carigara, Leyte
said, “we should be thankful that this time, the Army and Police is
now in Brgy Caghalo as our partner in implementing peace and order in
our barangay.” She lauded as well the troops for their discipline and
for showing genuine peace and development efforts to the people.
While Asterio Uribe, 57 yrs old, a farmer of Brgy San Isidro said “we
feel safe and we thank the soldiers and the police for their care,
compassion and understanding to us residents here in the village, it
cannot be matched and we are proud to have them here in our barangay.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with 1Lt. Jaime B. Tuguic Jr.,
company commander of the 19th IB, Charlie Company, said that deployed
troops focused not only on people’s safety, for territorial defense
and securing the area, but also to unite and work hand in hand with
the stakeholders, local executives and heads of agencies in order to
solve the insurgency problem.
The Bayanihan Team of Charlie Company of the 19th IB together with the
PNP jointly had to identify social issues and the team are known for
their capabilities in bringing livelihood projects in communities in
coordination with the local government agencies.
“Our goal is to cultivate synergy from stakeholders’ network for the
benefit of the communities” Lt. Tuguic said.
Their efforts helped reduce illiteracy rate in far flung barangays and
reduced poverty. It empowers the rural people with knowledge, skills
and values that will help them be a better person.
The truth according to Lt. Tuguic is that there are a lot of noise out
there drowning out quite voices, and many people have stopped
listening to the cries of their neighbors. Lots of folks have put
their hands over their ears to drown out the sufferings. Some
institutions have distanced themselves from the disturbing cries. But
one thing beautiful for now is folks in poverty are no longer just a
missions project but become a genuine friends and family with whom we
laugh, cry, dream and struggle.
exhausted after months of displacement in Zamboanga
July 3, 2014
MANILA – Nine months
after fighting stopped between a faction of the Moro National
Liberation Front and government troops in Zamboanga, a reported 40,000
people remain displaced from their homes, living in difficult
conditions in overcrowded evacuation centres or hosted by relatives
and largely dependent on humanitarian assistance.
Many of the displaced were
trapped in poverty even before the clashes in September last year left
them bereft of their homes and without the few assets they had
"Progress has been made in
relocating a number of displaced people to transitional sites around
the city," said Pascal Mauchle, head of the delegation of the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Philippines.
"Nevertheless, efforts should continue to ensure that services such as
water supply and sanitation are provided before moving people to these
transitional sites. Especially now with the start of the rainy season,
which will put additional strain on an already vulnerable population."
Poor sanitation practices
and unsuitable facilities in evacuation centres along the Cawa-Cawa
shoreline and the Joaquin Enriquez Stadium, still housing 17,000
displaced, create ideal conditions for the spread of disease.
Working with the Philippine
Red Cross and in conjunction with the local water board, the ICRC is
improving the sanitation and water supply in various evacuation centres and transitional sites. In recent months, the organization has
also sought to strengthen the resilience of the displaced community
through cash-for-work schemes and unconditional cash grants,
benefiting nearly 50,000 people.
"These people struggle every
day to make ends meet. Not knowing when they will be able to resume
their normal lives is a tremendous burden on an already exhausted
community," said Gareth Gleed, the delegate in charge of ICRC
activities in Zamboanga.
Dora Kasim, a beneficiary of
the cash grant programme, explained the ordeal experienced by her
family: "We were living from seaweed farming, but when fighting broke
out we had to flee and leave our home and belongings behind." When she
and her family finally managed to return to their coastal village,
nothing was left. "I was in a daze," said Dora. "Without any money to
start over with, we depended on relief to feed our children. We
received cash from the ICRC and used it to buy seaweed and a new
While they have slowly
managed to restore their livelihood, Dora’s family doesn't want to be
relocated far from their farm and the children's school because they
can't afford the transport. "It's a choice between feeding our
children and having to pay for public transport. We can’t afford
both," she explained.
In a bid to improve the
overall health situation, the ICRC is refurbishing health stations
damaged in the fighting and providing medicines, other supplies and
technical and financial support to the local health authorities and
the Zamboanga City Medical Center.
In May, the ICRC set up a
nutrition programme for malnourished children under five years of age
and for pregnant and lactating women with a view to reducing the
number of preventable deaths. So far 225 children and 32 women are
being followed under this programme. In addition, multipurpose halls
are being built in three evacuation centres to carry out hygiene
promotion, nutrition and health-care activities.