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Weaving Dreams In Sibaltan

(Ayala Foundation helps a community embrace change)

Sibaltan used to be a sleepy village by the sea in the eastern part of El Nido, Palawan. But now, it is waking up to increased economic activity. Among those contributing to the growth is a bold band of women weavers who have not only scaled up their craft but also their dreams.

When the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued the Sibaltan Women Weavers Association Inc. (SWWAI) their certificate of incorporation in November last year, no one could be happier than Melodiya “Diay” Bantog, a 37-year-old Palaweña who is the group’s president since 2013.

Diay and her team had been struggling to complete documentation requirements so they could operate commercially and scale up a livelihood enterprise on which they pinned most of their hopes. The hurdle especially for small groups filing for registration at the SEC has been higher following the Napoles controversy, which affected the governance outlook of nongovernmental organizations in the country.

In March this year, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) finally issued SWWAI their certificate of registration so they can operate as an independent business entity. Now that SWWAI is allowed to do business, while issuing their very own official receipt, Diay and her team feel they had won half the battle.

Now more confident with training and marketing exposure, the Sibaltan women are more excited to make future plans and thankful that all throughout their rather difficult journey, Ayala Foundation held their hands.

Weaving as part of Sibaltan cultural heritage

In this idyllic farming and fishing community, weaving is a skill that is passed on from generation to generation. People take pride in the fact that their roofs and walls are the work of their hands. They weave almost everything. Thus, in a typical household, it is not unusual to see menfolk, farmers and fishermen in particular, doing their share of weaving when they come home from the sea or farm.

The Sibaltan women weavers started as a small group in 2000. Through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, they underwent training to supply a single buri bag design for giveaways in El Nido’s resorts.

In 2008, Macrina “Nay Macring” Gacasa became president and by that time, the group already had 57 members, and had since woven buri-pandan bags, wallets, baskets or bayongs, slippers, and mats for the local market.

But still, it was difficult for them to make both ends meet as their market was limited to Palawan. While their artisanship is evident in the work that they do, they lacked the vision to drive the business further.

In April 2013, Ayala Foundation started working with SWWAI and was instrumental in the group’s collective decision to move forward with another able leader. While Nay Macring was still acknowledged as the best weaving teacher in the group, she selflessly ceded leadership to Diay Bantog. The foundation considered this move as proof that the group was ripe for more focused intervention and ready for bigger opportunities.

Building confidence and skills with Ayala Foundation

Ayala Foundation Program Manager Chiara Cruza observed how the hard-working Palaweñas sun-dried leaves from buri and pandan for two days before they made simple but durable products out of them. The women did this only as a part-time undertaking to help augment their respective family’s income.

Chiara Cruza (center), Ayala Foundation program manager, with members of the Sibaltan Women Weavers Association while they were undergoing training with The Leather Collection

Sadly, Chiara also realized that whatever the women earned out of weaving will never be enough to feed their families nor send their children to school, that is, if they continued to do things in the old, familiar way.

Under a new leader and now committed to change, Chiara introduced SWWAI to Rag to Riches (R2R), a fashion and design house which seeks to empower community artisans.

Aside from seeing the R2R brand as aspirational, the Sibaltan women weavers were inspired by how women from the Payatas dumpsite grew themselves into a formidable enterprise. R2R’s humble beginnings resonated with them as a powerful message that if the Payatas women could do it, so could they.

R2R then provided SWWAI with an overview on production, marketing and sales plus designs. After a week-long training during mid-2014, sixty design prospects were added to their list.

Following through the weavers’ new found confidence, Ayala Foundation invited The Leather Collection (TLC), a company specializing in corporate gift items using high-quality leather, to take a look at SWWAI.

TLC thought highly of the Sibaltan women’s craftsmanship, realizing that they were capable of weaving fine leather strips into panel materials that they needed for their luxury products, namely wallets, folios, key fobs, among others.

Shortly after the visit, five women weavers from Sibaltan and Villapaz towns were flown to Manila for skills development with TLC. Later on, their output formed a unique, limited edition collection of luxury bags and gift items.

“We learned about quality in our training with The Leather Collection. We realized that we should not just weave in a rush. We have to make sure that our products are of the highest quality. We know that Leather Collection sells them at a really high price so they have to be the best,” Diay Bantog says.

The foundation believes that by upping the skills of the women weavers, developing new products with greater appeal and function, and facilitating access to the market, a far greater value—both on a personal scale and product-wise—will be created.

Aside from now being used in Ayala Land’s El Nido resorts, the bayongs and other buri products have been used as conference bags by Manila-based national and international organizations. Seeing the versatility of the woven buri-pandan products, they were made into notebooks, tea boxes, notepad boxes, and others. These gift items were developed in partnership with Custom Made Crafts.

Bigger dreams

Nowadays, children in Sibaltan, El Nido, Palawan still fly kites and play along the shores like before, but their mothers, grandmothers and sisters who compose the Sibaltan Women Weavers Association, Inc. are now seeing far beyond the resort town’s horizon. And others are taking notice.

During El Nido’s 100th founding anniversary last March 12, the people of El Nido, Palawan recognized Ayala Foundation Program Manager Chiara Cruza’s strong leadership and unwavering support to their community programs, foremost among which is SWWAI’s transformation.

“We are happy where we are now and thank Chiara being good to us and helping us all the way. Totoong-totoo sya. (She is so true.) She gives us advise even on our little problems,” Diay says, adding that now that they have come this far, they will appreciate a special training in financial management, budgeting and record keeping.

The Sibaltan women weavers are now taking the future into their own hands. Now working full-time at SWWAI, they proudly share their plans for the future.

“My daughter, who is 15, is a special child. I want to send my 10-year-old son to college. I can say this because I now earn more than my husband who works as highway laborer. On the whole, I am able to provide for my family in a much better way,” SWWAI president Diay Bantog declares.

5 Year Old Girl Awarded at Run & Raise 2016

Run & raise 2016 awards bronze medal to a 5-year old girl

Article by Ana Junio


An unfazed Shaira received a bronze medal during the recent Run & Raise 2016 organized by New World Hotels in partnership with ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALKFI)

“Shaira had no preparation prior to this run. She is just lucky to have great endurance. She has been running five kilometers in other runs. She doesn’t get tired easily,” said Carlito Fantilaga, Shaira’s proud father.

Shaira Mae Fantilaga was one of more than one thousand runners who joined New World Hotels’ Run & Raise 2016. Five-year old Shaira was accompanied by her father, Carlito Fantilaga, 31, also one of the winners in the adult category.

Held at the Rajah Sulayman Park, Roxas Boulevard, Run & Raise 2016 is the second running event organized by New World Hotels Manila Bay and Makati. The first run, organized by New World Makati alone, unfolded in December 2014 and was participated by 600 runners.

“Last year was more of a fun run. This year, the two New World Hotels teamed up to organize a run for a cause, and we found the right partner, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. The name of our event says it well; we run for wellness and raise money for charity,”

New World Hotel Makati General Manager Farid Schoucair articulated. New World Hotel Manila General Manager Mark Heywood recognized that Run & Raise 2016 signals the long-term partnership of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya and New World Hotels.


“Working with ABS-CBN is a wonderful opportunity to raise money for a good cause. This collaboration would not only serve our guests but also the communities of this country,” Heywood enthused.

BPI, DOST Award Young Outstanding Scientists

The 2016 batch of BPI-DOST Science Awardees pose with Ramon L. Jocson, Executive Vice President, BPI; Dr. Josette T. Biyo, Director of the Science Education Institute of DOST, and Faye A. Corcuera, Executive Director of BPI Foundation

MANILA, PHILIPPINES. The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) presented the Best Project of the Year Award to Jerome Alan S. Japitana, a BS-Chemistry student of the University of Santo Tomas at the 2016 BPI-DOST Science Awards, held at The Mind Museum, Taguig last April 5, 2016.

Also the winner Best in Basic Research Award, Japitana’s study “Using Non-Precious Materials in the Development of a Cost-Effective Cathode Catalyst for Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells”, studied the use of cobalt to improve the efficiency of fuel cell performance. Fuel cells are a viable option for environmentally-sustainable and economically-feasible source of energy.

The Best in Applied Research Award winner Joselv E. Albano is a BS Biology student from Ateneo de Davao University. His project “Molecular Detection and Expression of merA and Mercury Reduction by Pseudomonas putida”, demonstrates the promising ability of the mercury-reducing bacteria in the bioremediation of contaminated areas. Bioremediation can be a less expensive and more efficient method of alleviating elemental mercury that pose a great danger to human health.

With the aim to generate and reinforce the interest of our youth to pursue science and technology as a career, BPI Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology, launched the BPI-DOST Science Awards a decade ago to primarily inspire, recognize, and support the most outstanding young scientists and innovators from across the Philippines.

Against the backdrop of global warming and a climate-defined future, our theme for the search for the 2016 Best Science Project: “Engineering our Future through Environmental Sustainability” has resulted in the identification of 30 brilliant young scientists from 11 partner Universities whose research projects focus around the discovery and use of sustainable materials, solutions for agriculture, disaster mitigation, health, technology, and many more.

“Scientific research is critical to help meet the challenges for sustainable development as it lays the foundation for new approaches, solutions and technologies to identify, clarify and tackle global challenges for the future,” said Faye Corcuera, Executive Director of BPI Foundation.

She added: “This is precisely why, BPI through the BPI Foundation, supports the endeavor to encourage and recognize promising university students on the pursuit of their scientific research. Throughout our 165 year history, BPI takes its role in economic development to heart.  Thus, in our own way, through such advocacies and programs as the BPI-DOST Science awards, we commit to encourage our youth to pursue STEM education and scientific research and innovation as a means to sustainable development.”

Preceding the Awarding Ceremonies, a short Environmental Forum focused on “Engaging the Youth for Environmental Sustainability” took place to discuss the pressing environmental issued The Philippines currently deals with. The Panel included Atty. Gia Ibay, head of the Climate and Energy Programme of WWF Philippines, Tony Lambino, Head of Public Policy of Ayala Corporation and Carlo Delantar, Country-Director of Waves for Water Philippines. Moderated by Glenn Banaguas of the Environment and Climate Change Research Institute, the discussion tackled the delicate water, energy and food nexus, currently being threatened by effects of climate change.

Now on its 27th year, the BPI-DOST Science Awards has recognized over 800 outstanding science awardees from its partner universities nation-wide: Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Davao University, De La Salle University, MSU – Iligan Institute of Technology, Saint Louis University, Silliman University, University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Los Baños, University of San Carlos, University of Santo Tomas and Xavier University. Up to three exceptional students are selected per partner institution every year. An awardee is selected on the basis of his academic performance and must be nominated by the school.

Aside from the cash awards, all awardees went through a Technopreneurship Workshop facilitated by Maoi Arroyo, Ariel Lopez and John Christopher Orlina of Hybridigm, and her team last April 4, 2016, in the hopes of planting the seeds of entrepreneurship in young budding researchers and innovators as a career option.

BPI Foundation will be holding awarding ceremonies at the campuses of its partner universities in the months of April and May 2016 for the awardees to be locally recognized for their achievements and contributions to nation-building.

Please visit for more information on the speakers and the 2016 awardees.

The Social Impact of Investing for Good

Capital One Philippines uplifts Filipinos through CSR initiatives

The information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry is a major job source in the Filipino economy. It makes a difference by not only uplifting the Filipino workforce but also through initiating corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs on the ground.

Capital One Philippines Support Services Corp., the Alabang-based global in-house contact center of Capital One Financial Corporation, is one with the industry in giving Filipinos a chance for a better life. Through its “Investing for Good” strategy, Capital One Philippines combines the strength of its workforce with the company’s resources and identifies communities that need assistance.

For Capital One Philippines, it does not matter if it is a community in Alabang or in far south like Bohol. “Changing lives for good knows no geographic boundaries,” said Capital One Philippines Head of Operations Tom McCormick. “Capital One Philippines is proud to partner with local community organizations to affect positive change.”

In 2015, associates logged 10,222 volunteer hours and had a 99% volunteerism participation rate – proof that when a company invests in its people, its people extend the same level of commitment to them.

Capital One Philippines partnered with Tuloy Foundation through the Contact Center Readiness Program, the first-ever contact center training curriculum accredited by TESDA. What started as an initial grant to build a learning center became an instrument of hope for young Filipinos who want to quality for jobs in the IT-BPM and other service industries. Thus far, nine graduates are employed in Capital One Philippines.

“The partnership between Tuloy Foundation and Capital One Philippines is very inspiring and can serve as a template for sustainable and transformative partnership.  Capital One looked into places and situations where our kids can say they have been very well taken care of. Truly it is a very unique, inspiring and mutually enriching partnership,” shared Fr. Marciano “Rocky” Evangelista, SDB, president and founder of Tuloy Foundation.

Benefitting more than 600 students, Capital One Philippines also renovated the kitchen and feeding room of Alabang Elementary School (AES) and refitted them with new shelves and cabinets. New appliances were also given to AES to ensure that its students will get freshly prepared and nutritious food every day. As part of Capital One Philippines’ “We Got Your Back!” event, students were also given waterproof backpacks and school supplies. Faculty members received backpacks with solar powered LED lights, umbrellas, notebooks, and pens. Capital One Philippines also supports the Health Awareness Intervention for Nutrition initiative which helps meet nutritional needs of children under AES’ Malnutrition Program. Volunteers make use of their time preparing and serving food to kids.

Capital One also supports Haven for Children, a temporary shelter which provides healing and empowerment to former street children, through a series of annual CSR initiatives. These include a summer sports clinic called “Kids Day Out”, a Halloween Party, a Movie Day, and a Christmas gift-giving program dubbed “Toys and Tunes”. When its servicing team won PHP15,000 worth of gift certificates from its premier recognition program, the team opted to use the money to give back to the community by holding a kids’ party at Haven for Children.

Its engagement has also moved beyond the immediate community where it operates.

Last July, Capital One Philippines sealed a partnership with International Care Ministries (ICM) by supporting its “Transform” and “Jumpstart” programs for Bohol’s ultra-poor. “Transform” is a livelihood initiative benefitting an estimate of 1,150 families while Jumpstart provides kindergarten education to children from low-income neighborhoods.

Through a partnership with ICM and Stop Hunger Now, volunteers created meal packs with rice, vegetables, flavoring, and a vitamin sachet including 23 essential vitamins and minerals. The activity yielded more than 900 volunteer hours and benefitted six communities in Bohol.

To cap the year off, Capital One Philippines worked with integrated marketing communications firm TeamAsia and the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines through its My Dream in a Shoebox Christmas initiative. Capital One Philippines donated 1,500 shoeboxes filled with school supplies, making Christmas merrier for more Filipino children.

As an organization that believes in the importance of doing the right thing, Capital One Philippines continues to invest not only in the amazing Filipino talent but also in the wellbeing of the communities in the Philippines.

In 2016, we plan to do even more in collaboration with our community and industry partners to support and aid those in need in the Philippines,” said McCormick.

Food Service Livelihood Program Brings Poro Fishers Added Income, Marine Protected Area Closer To Reality

Affordable meals in Ilocano country? Wen, Manong! Luto ti Poro’s tasty home-cooked local cuisines answers the need for taste, convenience and true value for money while helping the environment.

San Fernando City, La Union. March 1, 2016 – To augment the income and help wean folks from overdependence on fishing, the Poro Sea Lovers Association (PSLA), a people's organization in barangay Poro in San Fernando City, La Union, recently opened Luto ti Poro (Ilocano for Poro Cuisine), a restaurant and catering services livelihood project.

PSLA launched Luto ti Poro to help the fisher folks of Poro, who live along the coast of San Fernando Bay, cope with the rapid development that comes with living near a large industrial zone. The livelihood project offers home-cooked local cuisines to community residents and workers. It also offers catering services to several institutions and offices of San Fernando City and Poro Point’s growing industrial and commercial zones. The food service training provided by TESDA instructors and on-the-job experience prepare the restaurant’s staffs, who are PSLA members, for possible employment in the city’s growing tourism industry. Luto ti Poro also serves as a direct-to-market venue for legally caught marine products of the PSLA members.

PSLA was founded through a grant of Php7.2 million from Chevron Philippines Inc. (CPI), marketer of Caltex fuels and lubricants, to the Institute of Social Order (ISO) for the creation and management of the Poro marine protected area (MPA). As a livelihood project of PSLA, Luto ti Poro will allow PSLA to focus on the planned 173-hectare multi-use Poro Marine Protected Area (MPA) to conserve Poro Bay’s depleted marine resources.

“We are inspired by how Chevron goes beyond grant donation to ensure that sustainable components are built in their social investment programs.  We now have work outside of fishing. We are strongly encouraged by the growing patronage of our community because this will enable us to help that help more fishers. We encourage everyone to visit us or we can deliver straight to your doorstep. Try our best-selling Igado, Sinanglaw, and Pinaryaan Manok,” said PSLA President Moises Cacap.

Dr. Liza Lim, director of project partner Institute of Social Order (ISO), said that apart from the creation of livelihood for PSLA members, “Luto ti Poro profits can be used by PSLA to better equip the MPA guards, buy fuel for the patrol boat, and conduct more workshops for the conservation of San Fernando Bay.

PSLA also partnered with the City Government of San Fernando and the Poro Point Management Corporation (PPMC) to boost support and sustainability of the Poro MPA. PPMC pledged to include PSLA and, consequently, Luto ti Poro, in their community projects. So far, the city government has provided a Php50,000 grant to jumpstart PSLA's rice trading venture to complement the eatery and an annual Php500,000 stipend for the operation of the Poro MPA.

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