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'Bayanihan' 2022: Advocacy efforts that inspire to start the year bright

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
'Bayanihan' 2022: Advocacy efforts that inspire to start the year bright
From left: Lea Salonga and Gary Valenciano duet for the first time for “Heroes Unmasked;" lovers Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo revive their 'Startruck' project for the benefit of Typhoon Odette victims.
TOYM, Startruck/Released

MANILA, Philippines — What inspires you this 2022?

For singer-actor Gary Valenciano, it was a picture of a medical frontliner riding a bike over floodwaters in full PPE (personal protective equipment).

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said in a recent virtual presser.

“That spoke to me in more ways than one. It was raining. I think they already asked people to stay home. And yet this was this frontliner, off to do what they are called to do regardless of whatever challenges they have and that really spoke to me.”

As a way to give back to those who have taken care of him and the entire country, Gary recently collaborated with fellow Original Pilipino Music (OPM) icon Lea Salonga and National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab to render “Heroes.”

The song, Gary’s first duet with Lea, is the highlight of “Heroes Unmasked,” the latest campaign of Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) that aims to benefit the Panatag na Kanlungan Project of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which provides necessary assistance for medical frontliners and volunteers. Cayabyab’s original song composition is accompanied with a music video.


@denibernardo24 #mv of #LeaSalonga and #GaryV first duet as #tribute and for the benefit of #covid19frontliners ???? #foryou #fyp #foryourpage ? original sound - denibernardo24


In an interview with Philstar.com during the virtual forum, Valenciano admitted that recording “Heroes” was a challenge, especially since Lea was in New York then and they were working under different time zones. 

But through recording in their respective homes, put together by a music engineer, Gary, Lea, Ryan and their team overcame the challenges, which he said, were actually nothing as compared to what the frontliners had to go through every day.

“I’m alive today because the doctors have taken care of me,” enthused Gary V.

“I chose to do the duet to remind everyone often of the critical role that the frontliners played to everyone’s lives, even without the pandemic… I am one person who has been swabbed so many times, I actually thought there’s another nostril growing behind my head. But it’s happened so many times and I do spend time with the frontliners asking them how they are, how are they with their families… This is a way to show how appreciative we are of the frontliners’ sacrifices.”

The TOYM has a long-standing reputation as an institution that honors outstanding young men and women, whose selfless dedication to their profession or vocation has resulted in significant contributions to their countrymen’s welfare. With the current need for assistance, TOYM is leading an initiative to raise funds to PGH, in recognition of its laudable efforts of providing quality healthcare for Filipinos from all socio-economic classes. 

“TOYM is honored and grateful to have three of the biggest names in music collaborate to offer their talents, time, and voices to drive awareness and support for the Heroes Unmasked campaign,” said Donnie V. Tantoco, Chairman of TOYM. “We’re also very proud that Heroes is actually the first song ever that Lea and Gary have worked on together. As an institution that recognizes young individuals who have positively impacted larger society, we think it is time to take bolder action, and we hope that our call can be answered by the entire nation for the benefit of our medical frontliners.”  

For updates and details on the Heroes Unmasked campaign, visit www.toymheroescampaign.org and follow and like @toym_philippines on Instagram, @TheOutstandingYoungMen on Facebook, and @TOYM_Ph on Twitter.

Make extra income from home 

Favorite mompreneur and Globe At Home Prepaid WiFi ambassador Neri Miranda and YouTube content creator Madam Ely gave insights and shared their experiences and knowledge to start and grow a small online business at home. 
Globe Philippines/Released


Are you looking for another source of income to help your family? Or have you started some ‘side hustles’ to keep those funds flowing? Then this learn-to-earn program from Globe At Home Prepaid WiFi in collaboration with tech-giant Google is right for you!

Globe At Home Prepaid WiFi joined Google in the Google Negosyo Talk: Trending Negosyo - Usapang Online Business held last December 3. The event was perfect for those who wanted to earn extra, start an online raket, or improve their current business at home.

Favorite mompreneur and Globe At Home Prepaid WiFi ambassador Neri Miranda and YouTube content creator Madam Ely gave insights and shared their experiences and knowledge to start and grow a small online business at home. 

“We know that Filipinos are always malikhain and hardworking especially for their families’ needs. This webinar is especially designed for our madiskarteng kababayan who hustles non-stop for their family. Google and Globe At Home Prepaid WiFi are here to ensure that malayo ang mararating ng business mo,” said Barbie Dapul, VP Marketing of Globe At Home.

Globe At Home Prepaid WiFi helps you go beyond internet access and to see your home as a place of security, learning, opportunities, and growth. Whether you are a Raketera At Home or want a Negosyo At Home, it ensures that you are right on track. Expect more of these exciting Negosyo At Home talks this year.

Globe At Home Prepaid WiFi is your ever-reliable digital partner for the things you want to do. For a one-time payment of P999, you can already own one with free 10GB of data. You can enjoy ultra-fast LTE, and a shareable and reloadable connection that you can share with the whole family. It is also very easy to use, just plug and play.

Globe strongly supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UN SDG No. 9, highlighting the roles of infrastructure and innovation as crucial drivers of economic growth and development. It is committed to upholding the UN Global Compact principles and contributing to 10 UN SDGs. For more information about Globe At Home, visit glbe.co/GAHPW.

Providing financial aid to more parents and students

The son asks, “Ma, mag-enroll po ba ako?” to which the mom replies, “Bukas na, anak.” 

This exchange has been repeated thrice in Bukas’ newest online video aptly entitled “Kulit.” The video shows a son following up on his mom to meet the deadline of his enrollment by the end of the week. His mom tries her best to have enough funds for his tuition by doing different income generating activities but still fails to meet the deadline. The son would then introduce Bukas. The video ends with the mother and son applying for a tuition installment plan, securing the tuition fee and his future. 

Despite its light tone, the video leaves a bit of twinge in the chest as we see the mom’s struggles and the son’s concern for his future yet understanding of the situation, reflected on his face every time he gets the same answer. 

This is the challenge faced by many Filipino parents who only desire to see their children attain a degree in hopes of having a better future. But with the economy taking a hit, resources to send children to school have become even more limited, with over 4 million students not enrolling in 2020. Driven by the desire to continuously send their children to school, parents resort to alternative financing options, but most of the available options are not always the best in the long run, and cater to only a limited set of borrowers with its conditions, namely:

  • Government loans and scholarships: Long and competitive process, usually has a high maintaining grade requirement.
  • Private bank loans: Requires collateral that the more financially challenged families may not have. Also has higher interest rates.
  • Friends and relatives and loan sharks: May have outrageous interest rates, comes with unforeseen complications due to its vague nature.

Having seen the opportunity to be a game-changer, the founders of Bukas developed the platform to extend real help to parents and students. Bukas, a tech-enabled education financing platform by its parent company ErudiFi, is offering an affordable, complementary solution that aims to empower Filipino families to build a better tomorrow through quality education. The offering is accessible to more families and students who are not able to rely on bank loans, credit cards, or scholarships. 

Bukas now has a total of 35 partner schools, with presence in 71 campuses, including Mapua University, Far Eastern University, Adamson University, Our Lady of Fatima University, PHINMA Education Network, University of Nueva Caceres, Centro Escolar University, Eskwelabs, De La Salle University, University of Asia and the Pacific to more specialized institutions like SoFA Design Institute, Enderun Colleges, Avion School, and Uplift Code Camp. 

Hanna Grace Laud, an FEU graduate, expresses her gratitude for having discovered Bukas, “Ang laki ng naitulong ng Bukas sa pag-aaral ko dahil ang hirap talaga magbayad ng buo sa tuition fees lalo na sa panahon ngayon. So nagpapasalamat ako sa Bukas dahil meron silang tuition installment plan para sa aming mga students at dahil doon naabot ko ‘yung mga pangarap ko at nakapagtapos ako ng pag-aaral.”

“We are strongly committed to providing students access to quality education and pave a path towards a brighter future. By providing education-focused financial products, we hope to reduce the number of out-of-school youth, and build a more secure future for the next generation,” shared JR Emlano, Country Manager of Bukas. 

Scholarship program to champion, strengthen, uplift teacher education

According to the World Bank Philippines Report 2021: “Improving teacher quality in schools will mean attracting and selecting the best candidates into the teaching profession. To strengthen teacher quality, [we] should begin from selecting the right people into the profession. Policies in teacher recruitment and hiring should be aimed at increasing the attractiveness of the career, such as incentivizing high achievers to pursue teacher training and eventually enter into the profession.”


“Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions.” Teachers are living vessels of knowledge and of dreams and aspirations of children whose voices fill teachers’ hearts and minds. As such, we recognize that lifelong learners need lifelong teachers—both championing education toward a better future for all.

With the desire to fuel hope and inspire action among Edukampyons, REX Education and the Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC) launched the PEAC–REX Edukampyon Iskolar Para Sa Kinabukasan, a scholarship program that aims to champion, strengthen, and advance teacher education by encouraging the best and brightest learners to pursue the teaching profession.

According to the 2018 OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results, Filipino students ranked the lowest among 79 countries in mathematics, science, and reading, with over 80% of students not reaching the minimum level of proficiency in reading. In a 2019 research conducted by the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS), scores of Filipino students decreased by 61 points in mathematics and by 83 points in science from 2003 to 2019. The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) also found that in 2019, at least 83% of Grade 5 students scored below reading and mathematics standards expected for end of primary schooling.

According to the World Bank Philippines Report 2021: “Improving teacher quality in schools will mean attracting and selecting the best candidates into the teaching profession. To strengthen teacher quality, [we] should begin from selecting the right people into the profession. Policies in teacher recruitment and hiring should be aimed at increasing the attractiveness of the career, such as incentivizing high achievers to pursue teacher training and eventually enter into the profession.”

The Edukampyon Iskolar Para Sa Kinabukasan scholarship program rings true to REX Education’s Edukampyon advocacy: to rally every Filipino to champion education so that every learner is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged, and values-oriented. As Edukampyons, we are duty-bound to uplift the Filipino learners today and in the future—and help make them whole. The time to act is now.

By encouraging the best and the brightest to pursue the teaching profession, we are investing in our learners and in the future of Philippine education. By being partners, we are working together to build and strengthen the path toward a brighter tomorrow for all of us, for our nation. By supporting the program, we are giving back to the teaching profession the highest honor and prestige it deserves.

“Teaching is a profession that has the power and influence to inspire the grooming of the greatest artists, doctors, and innovators. So, it is essential as Edukampyons to look into how we can advance and strengthen the quality of teachers and instructors… from basic education to the tertiary level. We seek for the best and the brightest to work with us, commit to the profession, and start creating a rippled effect as we enhance teachers’ quality today. This small act that we are doing in the present can have a great impact on all of our futures,” said Don Timothy Buhain, chief executive officer of REX Education during the launch of the program on October 5, 2021.

REX Education and PEAC are here for you. Students can apply for the program through their respective schools; while schools can nominate their top students for the scholarship, to encourage good-standing students to pursue Teacher Education for their tertiary education. 

REX Education and PEAC will also partner with teacher education centers of excellence (COEs) and centers of development (CODs) across the country to grant the scholarships, ensuring quality education and training for future teachers. 

By school year 2022–2023, 50 of the best and brightest freshmen will be selected across four basic education specializations: Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Those admitted to the program will not only enjoy living and technology-support allowances; they will also receive the best training from partner COEs and CODs across the country and bear the pride and responsibility to give back and advance the community.

Edukampyon Iskolar Para Sa Kinabukasan was launched through a virtual event that gathered educators and representatives from PEAC, REX Education, Philippine Business of Education, ASEAN Teacher Education Network, the Department of Education, and the Commission on Higher Education. Apart from launching the initiative, it was also a celebration of teachers across the country in time for World Teachers’ Month. Those who missed the event can still watch it via REX Education Facebook page.

‘Do Good’ initiatives support International Volunteers Day

With the social purpose tagline “Look Good Do Good Feel Great” launched in March 2021, Watsons has spread the word about sustainability to its employees and customers and forged partnerships with suppliers and nongovernment institutions to do its part in making the world a better place for everyone.
Watsons Philippines/Released


The A.S. Watson Group is a purpose-driven company dedicated to social purpose over the past 180 years. The spirit of giving goes back to A.S. Watson’s first dispensary which provided free medicine to the needy and this is a spirit that lives on to this day.

For the month of December, Watsons celebrated International Volunteer Day by supporting communities and nongovernment organizations. International Volunteer Day was initiated by the United Nations to recognize and promote the tireless work, not just of UN volunteers, but of volunteers across the globe. 

In the past months, Watsons Philippines has partnered with different organizations and suppliers for programs such as Trash to Cash in partnership with SM Cares, Unilever, and P&G for the collection of 3000 kg of trash in one year. 

For Give A Smile, Watsons teamed up with Operation Smile Philippines and Johnson & Johnson for 50 surgeries for children with cleft and lip palate. 

Thousands of plastic bottles were recycled in the Plastic Bottle Recycling project in partnership with Plastic Bank Philippines, Procter & Gamble and Unilever Philippines. In the first 12 months, Watson’s commitment is 2.5M plastic bottles recycled. For Gift for Good, Watsons also collaborated with Unilever Philippines to raise funds for Plastic Bottle Recycling. 

“At Watsons, we’re committed to sustainable growth.  This is why we encourage all our employees, partners and customers to do good to help save the environment and support the community. Do Good acts include choosing Watsons Sustainable Choices products that are kinder to the environment and/or donating resources to charities such as Operation Smile Philippines,” said Viki Encarnacion, PR and Sustainability Director at Watsons Philippines. Read more about how Watsons helps communities as part of its social and environmental impact initiatives at https://interactive.watsons.com.ph/sustainablechoices. 

Bringing cheer to 400 Baseco families, students

In line with the company’s advocacy to support education in the country, Xiaomi Philippines partnered with World Vision to help students pursue their education during this challenging time. With students still adjusting to distance learning, Xiaomi is responding to the call to help by supplying the needs of deserving students so they can continue learning and pursue their studies. 
Xiaomi Philippines/Released


Global technology leader Xiaomi Philippines recently partnered with World Vision, a child focused relief, development and advocacy organization, to donate backpacks containing school supplies to 400 Grade 12 students of Pres. Corazon Aquino Senior High School as well as 400 Noche Buena packs for families located at BASECO.

In line with the company’s advocacy to support education in the country, Xiaomi Philippines partnered with World Vision to help students pursue their education during this challenging time. With students still adjusting to distance learning, Xiaomi is responding to the call to help by supplying the needs of deserving students so they can continue learning and pursue their studies. 

Through the partnership, World Vision has identified the Grade 12 students of Pres. Corazon Aquino Senior High School to be the beneficiaries of Xiaomi’s school supplies.

Xiaomi Philippines Marketing Head Tomi Adrias shared, “Xiaomi believes in the importance of the role of education in a child’s development. And as children were one of the most vulnerable during the pandemic, we want to step up in providing assistance for the students and use this as an opportunity to pay back the support given to us by the Xiaomi community throughout the year.”

The school representative and officer-in-charge, Danabel Bautista, shared that this will be the first time the Grade 12 students will be receiving packages from a World Vision partner and expressed their appreciation to Xiaomi for this initiative. “We are thankful and grateful for these blessings. Amidst the pandemic, helping each other or  bayanihan is still evident and we do this for the children’s future (We are thankful and grateful for these blessings. Amidst the pandemic hindi  pa din mawawala ang bayanihan at pagtutulungan para sa kinabukasan ng ating kabataan),” she shared.

Xiaomi Philippines also participated in World Vision’s Noche Buena program by donating 400 food packs to families in BASECO. Started in 2005, World Vision started its campaign as a way to bring joy to more than 33,000 Filipino homes every Christmas by donating a simple Noche Buena package, which is an integral part of every Filipino’s Christmas celebration.
Chifadel Mabolo, World Vision Area Program Manager of BASECO, said during the turnover, “Thank you so much Xiaomi Philippines, you made a lot of families happy this Christmas (Maraming salamat sa Xiaomi Philippines, marami kayong napaligaya na pamilya this December).”

Xiaomi has had a tremendous performance in 2021 in the Philippine market, from the successful launches of the its flagship smartphones such as the Mi11 and Xiaomi 11T series, its AIoT products such as the MI TV P1 series and its wearables, to its highly anticipated return to the tablet market with the Xiaomi Pad 5.

This year, Xiaomi also reached key milestones when it comes to growth, including becoming the no. 2 smartphone globally in Q2 2021 and the no. 3 smartphone in the Philippines, as well as becoming the no. 1 wearables vendor worldwide in Q2 2021. Xiaomi has also risen to 338th in the Fortune 500 list, up from 422nd in 2020. Making it the fastest growing company in the Internet and Retail Category on the Fortune Global 500 list of the year. 

Giving forever smiles throughout the pandemic

In 2019, Cristalle Belo met baby Mao during one of her family-owned Belo Medical Group’s outreach activities. Baby Mao was not allowed to receive surgery then as he was not strong enough at the time (left). Chef Xavier Btesh, who was there to support the outreach activities, also took an interest in Baby Mao’s case, helping to ensure he goes to his pediatric check-ups and gets his vitamins to be healthy enough for his eventual surgery through Smile Train (right).

Smile Train Philippines/Released


Every day around the world, 540 babies are born with a cleft, a serious health condition with potentially life-threatening complications such as difficulty in eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Smile Train provides comprehensive cleft care services to individuals born with a cleft and their families. Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Smile Train continued to provide free cleft surgery and care for those in need, including baby Mao. 

Novalyn, the mother of baby Mao, had initially lost hope. During his first check-up at another organization, Mao was underweight and could not receive surgery.  Shortly after, the pandemic started, causing further delays to receiving treatment. After more than a year, Novalyn was referred to Smile Train by Cristalle Belo, Tim Yap and Javi Martinez. Mao received surgery for his cleft lip last September 2021.

“This life changing procedure of baby Mao is truly such a blessing to their family, and we can’t thank Smile Train enough for making this dream a reality. Can’t wait to see the results after baby Mao has healed,” said Cristalle Belo on her Instagram post.

In 2019, Cristalle Belo met baby Mao during one of her family-owned Belo Medical Group’s outreach activities. Baby Mao was not allowed to receive surgery then as he was not strong enough at the time. 

Chef Xavier Btesh, who was there to support the outreach activities, also took an interest in Baby Mao’s case, helping to ensure he goes to his pediatric check-ups and gets his vitamins to be healthy enough for his eventual surgery through Smile Train.

“Para sa mga magulang, huwag pong mawalan ng pag-asa dahil nandyan ang Smile Train laging naka suporta para sa atin at para sa mga anak nating may cleft. Pero hangga’t maari, bilang isang magulang, bilang isang nanay, isa sa mga responsibilidad natin na alagaan ang sarili natin lalo na pag tayo ay mayroong anak na may cleft,” said Mommy Novalyn. 

“Through Smile Train’s sustainable model of partnering with local hospitals and empowering local medical professionals, we are able to provide cleft care throughout the year. This model has allowed us to continue to carefully provide safe, quality and timely surgeries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kimmy C. Flaviano, Smile Train Vice President, South East Asia.

Aside from cleft surgeries, Smile Train has provided over 3,000 telehealth sessions for speech therapy and nutrition counselling during the pandemic. Smile Train also launched the first-ever Filipino language mobile speech app designed for those born with a cleft to continue learning at home.    

Despite the challenges of the current times, Smile Train remains committed to its vision of a world where everyone has access to safe and comprehensive cleft care and can live a full and healthy life. In just over 20 years, Smile Train has already supported over 65,000 cleft surgeries in the Philippines. 

For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to donate, please visit smiletrain.org. To learn more about Smile Train’s local programs in the Philippines, please visit smiletrain.ph, follow Smile Train Philippines on Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and like us on Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines.

30th conferment anniversary of Celia Diaz Laurel’s 'Woman for Peace' Award 

Photo release

November 29, 2021 marks the pearl anniversary of Mrs. Celia Diaz Laurel’s conferment of the highly prestigious international peace and humanitarian award “Woman for Peace” given by the Insieme Per La Pace (Together for Peace) Foundation. 

Like its founder and president Madame Mariapia Fanfani who herself had devoted all her life to cater to the sick, poor, and victims of war, the honor is bestowed upon remarkable women who have helped promote, advance, and partake in global peacebuilding processes through meaningful social, educational, and cultural means. 

Mrs. Laurel’s vast humanitarian work began in 1986 when she volunteered to head our country’s national bid for the United Nations’ Million Minutes of Peace —a worldwide campaign asking people (even with differing religions) to pledge and devote “minutes of meditation, positive thinking or prayer for peace.” Under her leadership, she launched a series of peaceful undertakings that triumphantly landed the Philippines at the fourth slot (out of the 88 participating nations) with an overwhelming 94,000,000 minutes collected and dedicated to peace! 

Following this success, UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar flew to the Philippines in 1987 to honor Mrs. Laurel with the “United Nations for Peace Award” and to personally invite her to speak at the Million Minutes for Peace international conference that same year. Soon, she was at the She then attended the Universal Peace Conference in Mt. Abu in India and the World Media Association in Seoul, South Korea. She also stood before the International Security Council to discuss, among others, the impact of insurgency in the Philippines on the general security of the nations in the Southeast Asian region. 

Alongside these many international engagements, she likewise organized and established several key socio – civic organizations like Causa Philippines, Inc., (a humanitarian movement against international communism), DAYTOP Philippines (Drug Addicts Yield to Persuasion), Handog Lingap sa May Kapansanan (HALIKA), Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Kidney Transplant Association, Gifted Children and Youth Foundation, Memorial to the Peaceful Revolution, Save the Children (Community Development), People’s Welfare Foundation, Philippine International Friendship Organization, Philippine General Hospital Foundation, Philippine National Red Cross Overseas and Diplomatic Divisions, and Peace Development Foundation, Inc. She also worked in the countryside where she focused on health and education developments like providing sustainable potable water in depressed areas and building public school libraries. Months before the big awarding ceremony in Madrid, Spain for the Woman for Peace, Mrs. Laurel and VP Doy Laurel have been, in fact, tirelessly  had already been providing relief to fellow Filipinos devastated by natural calamities (i.e. earthquakes, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, and the killer cyclone in Ormoc City) that hit our country in the early '90s. 

The grand awarding ceremony was held at Pabellon De Cecilio Rodriguez in Madrid, Spain on November 29, 1991. Besides Mrs. Laurel, other honorees that year were Queen Noor of Jordan, Madame Chirac of France, and Madame Silva of Portugal. The occasion had 400 guests in attendance ––  comprising mostly of prominent international personalities like Senator Gianni Agnelli of Italy and royalties like Prince Saddrudin Aga Khan, King Simeon of Bulgary, and Baron and Baroness con Thiessen Bormenisza. With her conferment, she joined the revered roster of past awardees like Queen Sophia of Spain, Raissa Gorbachev, Former US First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, Marcella Perez de Cuellar, Diana Vreeland, President Violeta Chamurro of Nicaragua, and Queen Sirikit of Thailand. 

In her acceptance speech which she excellently delivered in full Italian, Mrs. Laurel emphasized her “fervent wish that the day will come– perhaps in the next 100 years – when the efforts of Together For Peace, with all our collective efforts, will bring about a social floor below which the poor in the world will never again sink and suffer.” 

Almost 30 years later, that fervent wish, sadly, remains unachieved. 

With Celia Diaz Laurel, our country’s very own Woman for Peace, now at peace with her Creator, it becomes therefore incumbent upon us who were left behind to continue the crusade she tirelessly but silently began decades ago. The nearing pearl anniversary of her conferment, therefore, is meant to evoke and challenge us to continually work towards achieving peace and creating a harmonious social balance in the next thirty years or so… especially here in this part of the world –our beloved Philippines – where we, unfortunately, STILL need them the most.

Binibining Pilipinas, Araneta City assist Red Cross in Typhoon Odette relief efforts

From left: PRC Secretary - General Elizabeth Zavalla, Binibining Pilipinas International 2021 Hannah Arnold, PRC Chairman Senator Richard Gordon, Miss Intercontinental 2021 Cinderella Obenita, and PRC Board of Governors Ernesto Isla
Araneta Group/Released


The Araneta Group partners with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in helping families affected by Typhoon Odette in Visayas and Mindanao.

The Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated (BPCI) gave on December 27 a cash donation worth P500,000 at the PRC main headquarters in Mandaluyong City. Miss Intercontinental 2021 Cinderella Obenita and Binibining Pilipinas 2021 Hannah Arnold personally handed the donation to PRC Chairman Richard Gordon and other officials.

“I am very thankful to Binibining Pilipinas not only for their generous contribution but also for using their platform to encourage more people to help the Red Cross save more lives," Gordon said.

PRC has been receiving donations from Binibining Pilipinas in the past through the Red Cross - Quezon City Chapter. The most prestigious pageant in the country sponsored the Million Volunteer Run 5 in 2019, and provided cash assistance in 2020.

In a statement, BPCI chairperson Stella Marquez Araneta said that along with the donation, BPCI continues to "wish for the safety and recovery of the typhoon victims, and look out for each other in these trying times."

Meanwhile, Araneta City has started accepting donations for the typhoon victims through its Operation R.E.A.C.H. (Relief Efforts of Araneta City-zens to Help) program. The public may leave donations such as bottled water, canned goods, rice, mats and blankets, face masks, alcohol, and other hygiene needs in drop boxes located at the Gateway Mall, Ali Mall, Farmers Plaza, and Gateway Tower. Donations will be accepted until January 2022, and will be forwarded to PRC to assist in their Humanitarian Caravan in areas devastated by the strong typhoon. 

"The Araneta Group is grateful to work with the Philippine Red Cross in responding to the pressing needs of our countrymen. It is our honor to work with them in delivering the necessary support and public service, in whatever ways we can, in crisis that we face," said Antonio Mardo, Senior Vice President for Operations of the Araneta Group.

Earlier this year, Araneta City has partnered with PRC in providing accessible COVID-19 test sites to the public via the drive-through saliva test at the Araneta City Bus Station. 

Delivering aid to Typhoon Odette victims 

With its nationwide coverage, Shopee Express trucks and vehicles have been able to transport water, health kits, water filters, solar lights, and other relief goods from brands and organizations.
Shopee Philippines/Released


Almost a month since Typhoon Odette devastated several provinces in Visayas and Mindanao, millions of Filipinos continue to reel from the aftermath. To support and serve the communities affected, Shopee partnered with several brands and corporations and mobilized its nationwide Shopee Express network to help provide immediate relief to Typhoon Odette victims in less accessible areas.

With the typhoon damaging communication and transportation infrastructure, a lot of the affected communities experienced difficulty receiving aid. With its nationwide coverage, Shopee Express trucks and vehicles have been able to transport water, health kits, water filters, solar lights, and other relief goods from brands and organizations such as the Manila Water Foundation, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc., Unilab, Akari Lighting, Envirocab, Socone, Asia Brewery, Inc., Mitsushi, Herco Trading, Inc., Qoncept Furniture, Foodplus, Del Monte, Dohera Corporation, Universal Robina Corporation, San Miguel Corporation, Lions Club International, and Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation. 
These donations were brought from Metro Manila to key Shopee Express Sorting centers in Cebu, Bohol, and Surigao for repacking before being distributed to thousands of affected residents across Visayas and Mindanao. With the support from various government agencies, such as the Office of Civil Defense, the Philippine Air Force, and the Philippine Navy, Shopee was able to expedite distribution to these areas further.

Through this nationwide effort, Shopee Express was also able to immediately provide essentials such as water, sanitary kits, and non-perishable food items to around 10,000 of its affected workers, most of whom are riders and drivers. 

Despite being among those affected by Typhoon Odette, Shopee Express riders also volunteered to help repack and distribute the donations. Some even decided to donate cash from their own pockets to be used for purchasing relief goods.

Elmer Tapales, who started as a Shopee rider last August, said, “I decided to become a rider because of the pandemic, where it was difficult to find employment. Thankfully, there was an opening here so I decided to apply. We were badly affected by the typhoon but we are grateful for the help Shopee gave us.”

Marijon Pinebro works as a maintenance personnel at a Shopee Express Hub, and Typhoon Odette affected them very much. “Shopee helped me a lot, aside from the financial help I received, they also provided assistance and relief goods. I'm so thankful to Shopee.”

Bernadette Sanchez, a security guard at Shopee Express, said, “Shopee helped us a lot and we got to keep our jobs. Shopee even gave all employees, riders, staff, and guards relief goods and provided the needed assistance. I want to thank Shopee for helping us in times of need.”

In partnership with GMA Kapuso Foundation, World Vision, and UNICEF, Shopee raised more than ?1 million worth of donations through its Shopee Bayanihan: Typhoon Odette Support initiative, which allows users to donate to the typhoon-affected communities by purchasing e-vouchers on the microsite and checking out via ShopeePay, Shopee’s all-in-one e-wallet. With the donation drive raising more than ?1 million worth of donations, Shopee matched the amount to provide an additional ?1 million worth of total donations to further support these three charities. 

Martin Yu, Director at Shopee Philippines, said, “As soon as we learned about the struggles that our kababayans faced in Visayas and Mindanao, we immediately mobilized our resources to provide relief quickly. The Filipino spirit of Bayanihan never fails to shine a bright light amidst dark times. We are thankful to our partner brands, generous users, and our employees who went out of their way to provide support to those in need. We hope that our combined efforts will contribute to the recovery and restoring of livelihoods among those affected.”

Jennylyn Mercado, Dennis Trillo bring back 'Startruck' for 'Odette' victims


Real-life Kapuso couple Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo once again bring back their donation drive "Startruck," this time, to help Filipinos affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Odette.

"Startruck" serves as a mobile donation drop off where designated vehicles go straight to the donors’ homes to pick up their in-kind donations.

“After picking up the items, we will then turn it over to our partner organizations who has the capacity or the logistics to ship it to the affected areas,” explained Jennylyn.

“All cash and in-kind donations will be sent out to victims in Cebu, Siargao, Bohol, Palawan, Negros, and Southern Leyte. Our team is constantly coordinating to partners on-ground to make sure we deliver their immediate needs given their respective situations,” added Dennis.

The Kapuso couple first launched Startruck in November 2020 to help the victims of then Typhoon Ulysses.

“At that time, there were many donated goods but one of the main concern was how to transport it on site since vehicles can barely enter the area due to the devastation created by the typhoon. So Dennis and I thought why don’t we provide a 10-wheeler truck that can help send out these goods especially to the smaller communities,” recounted Jen.

Startruck is still accepting cash and in-kind donations. For more information, visit its official Instagram page at @startruck.ph.

New inspiring video by Antoinette Jadaone


Everyone has reasons for staying strong and healthy. And in Century Tuna’s short film titled “Dahilan” directed by award-winning director Antoinette Jadaone, viewers will get to see the story of a young man and his fitness journey as it unfolds.

The two-minute video, starts with a montage of the young man working out with improvised home equipment. It then cuts to him cooking a special meal, which he brings up to the rooftop of his small apartment for a simple but heartfelt ‘date’. It is then revealed that his date is actually his mom with disability, and he has to carry her up to the rooftop. They have been doing the breakfast dates on that same rooftop ever since he was young and he wanted to continue to bring happiness to his mom by doing the same.

“Sa panahon ngayon, we must be strong - not just physically but also mentally, and not just for ourselves but also for the people we love. Humuhugot tayo ng lakas sa isa't isa,” shared Jadaone.

For Century Tuna, the short film takes on a new definition to health: “Many of our previous campaigns showcased fit and sexy bodies, which can be achieved with the help of Century Tuna. With ‘Dahilan’, we are telling the story of our consumers’ “why” – the reason for wanting to have a strong body to take on challenges. We wanted to highlight the importance of living a healthy lifestyle for the people we care about,” said Century Pacific Food Inc. (CPFI) VP and GM for Tuna Division Carlo Endaya.

Thankfully, Jadaone shares the same vision for her first project with Century Tuna, stressing that ‘Dahilan’ focuses more on the story and narrative. “Sa brief pa lang, nakita ko nang it's a different Century Tuna project - hindi naka-focus sa abs, sa katawan, sa muscles. It's about being strong pa rin - pero for the people you love.”

“Sa’yo ako humuhugot ng lakas,” narrated the son in a voice-over. “Kahit ang bigat ng mundo, kinakaya ko. Kasi ‘ma, kinaya mo.”

The voice-over, further complemented by the short film’s original song, was a creative touch by the esteemed director: “My editor Ben Tolentino—who's also my editor in my films like “Fan Girl” and “Never Not Love You”—and I added voice-overs of the son. So aside from the song lyrics, nakasilip tayo sa kung ano ang nararamdaman ni son while he's doing all these for his mom. I'm happy Century Tuna and the agency loved that additional touch.”

As the world continues to face the challenges of the pandemic, the short film’s “Love Strong” message serves as an inspiration for Filipinos to stay strong and healthy for themselves and for the people they love.

Given the meaningful outcome of the video, Carlo Endaya considers Antoinette Jadaone the perfect choice for the “Love Strong” short film. “We’re happy to work with Direk Tonet on this project. Through powerful storytelling, she perfectly captured the message that we wanted to convey: that we stay strong and healthy not just for ourselves but for the people we love as well.”

To know more about Century Tuna, visit and follow Century Tuna’s Facebook page, @centurytuna or Instagram @centurytunasuperbods.

Pioneering marine conservation for the new year 

Basketball phenom Kiefer Ravena, content creator Wil Dasovich, and watch collector Jordan Bergantin graced the event that was hosted by model and host, Rovilson Fernandez.
Seiko Philippines/Released


To welcome 2022 with a brighter perspective, one of the world’s leading diving watch brands, Seiko, launched its “Seize the Sunrise” campaign in partnership with Reef Check Philippines featuring the 2nd Philippine Limited Edition Seiko Prospex watch and four additional new releases in the Seiko Prospex collection.

At its “Seize the Sunrise'' event held last January 11, Seiko unveiled the second Philippine limited edition SRPH38K1, inspired by the Philippines’ majestic and breathtaking sunrise with its bright yellow dial finished with a gold bezel that is protected by an elegant sapphire with an anti-reflective coating.

The event also featured several special guests to discuss the setbacks they endured during the past year that helped them prepare for the new opportunities and adventures that await them this new year, further emphasizing Seiko’s global brand message of “Keep Going Forward.” Basketball phenom Kiefer Ravena, content creator Wil Dasovich, and watch collector Jordan Bergantin graced the event that was hosted by model and host, Rovilson Fernandez.

Expressing his admiration for the 2nd Philippine Limited Edition Seiko Prospex, Jordan Bergantin emphasized the beauty of the warm yellow dial and spot-on contrast of the watch and how it reflects the color of the center, which greatly justifies the inspiration of the watch.

“Seiko as a brand has always stood out and is one of the [most] respected Japanese brands. I’ve always thought they’re one of – if not – the best Japanese brand[s]. They’re one of the most recognizable brands also in horology. [Seiko] have a wide variety of watches that caters to all and can be enjoyed by anyone,” he shared.

Kiefer Ravena, who is currently representing the country in the Japan B. League, shared his sentiments on how having a reliable Seiko watch helps him keep a sharp mindset despite his tight training schedule.

“We're all in a professional setting, and it goes a lot if you are punctual. It means that you show a lot of respect for your time and other people's time as well. Not only that, I'm from the Philippines. I'm carrying a nation as well. And I want my actions to reflect on the people back home…to remove that type of stereotype that people in the Philippines don't really appreciate how time is. So, that's how I also try to represent myself over here.” Ravena said.

Known for his travel videos, Wil Dasovich reflected on the value of keeping a timepiece with him, and how it has made him make the most of every adventure.

“Whether I need to do an activity that is only available during the morning and then I [need to] run to the next one midday, I have to be at a certain place by nighttime, so it all comes back to time. And I mean, if you aren't on it, then you're going to miss all these opportunities, these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. And on top of that, it's going to be expensive because a lot of this stuff, you can't get it back.” he said.

Professional diver Merese Secades also sent in a video message during the event to share how owning a Seiko watch plays a part in her success.

“In freediving, every second counts. But having a Seiko Prospex…is helpful to give me a sense of security and control and to monitor every second…when I'm underwater. Sometimes I challenge my limits and go deeper than I'm used to, and I'm glad that Prospex can be with my bolder self.”

Hailed as the “center of the center” of aquatic biodiversity, the Philippine Sea is home to 2,500 species of fish, with more than 16,800 square kilometers of coral reefs that cover the major portion of the coral triangle. However, this picture-perfect marine life biodiversity is facing a bleak future due to ongoing decimation.

“In the past 30 years, we've already lost 50% of all the coral reefs in the world. And scientists who have been studying this are saying that if we continue living the way we are living right now, or if we don't change at all, or if we get worse, we are going to lose 90% of all coral reefs in the entire world.” shared Vani Vergara, President of Reef Check Philippines.

Expressing that time is of the essence, Vergara encouraged event attendees to willingly participate and do their part in raising awareness to conserve what’s left of the country’s ocean resources, especially with the marine wildlife situation getting progressively worse during the course of the pandemic.

“I'm very, very thankful for brands like Seiko, who do these events and include conversations about conservation because it starts with that. It starts with a discussion, and it's just bringing open the minds of everyone, inspiring them with what you're saying. And of course, after we all learn about what we can do, share it to your friends [and] family. I think that is the first step for everyone to be involved, because I feel like sustainability is not something you do overnight. It's like a habit or a diet, like you can't just do a crash diet.” she added.

In line with Seiko’s partnership with Reef Check Philippines to help preserve the country’s marine wildlife and habitat, a portion of the sales made in the Prospex Save the Ocean series will go into marine conservation efforts as a part of the brand’s initiative to support this cause and advocate to stop climate change.

Reef Check is a non-government organization that promotes the stewardship of sustainable reef communities across the globe. This collaboration aims to raise awareness on how people can help preserve and protect marine-life species, and for the next generation to continue seizing the sunrise.

RELATED: In photos: Christmas in Bohol after 'Odette'



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