NGOs who help reduce poverty incidence

A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2014 - 12:00am

(Part II – Not All NGOs are Bogus)

DSWD honors agencies granted with certificates of registration, registration with license to operate and accreditation in a simple awarding ceremony at the DSWD grounds during their Monday flag ceremony once in a month. This is followed by a meeting of all awardees to share their experiences and to network with other agencies. Last Jan. 13, the O. B. Montessori Child and Community Foundation, Inc., together with five other foundations were granted their Certificate of Registration and License to Operate.

Hurray for the legitimate NGO partners of government

The O. B. Montessori Child and Community Foundation, Inc. is a 30-year-old foundation that has been spreading the quality affordable version of the Montessori system of education in less privileged areas of the country, called the Pagsasarili Prechools. Starting with 7 project sites in slum-improved areas of Metro Manila, it has partnered with local government units, DSWD, DepEd, and CHED to cover 9 other regions of the Philippines to establish about 150 self-sustaining preschools, including the Pagsasarili Basic Education for Pulung-bulu public school in Angeles City, Pampanga.

It also offers a parallel literacy program for village mothers, provide scholarships for poor but deserving students, capacity building modules for teachers and parents, and medical and dental missions to the Aetas of the Hidden Temple Shrine of Mt. Pinatubo at Palan, Zambales. Our efforts started with the establishment of the Pagsasarili Preschools and for many years focused on education as a means of alleviating poverty in programs that encourage parents and children learning together for a sustainable future. In 2004, we received a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through its Canada Fund to convert seven DSWD day care centers into Pagsasarili Preschools in five UNESCO Heritage Sites of Ifugao. Private donors, including ambassadors of other countries and philanthropists (Lhuilliers, Aboitiz, Jose Mari Chan, Lucio Tan, Ricky Razon) have also helped to fund our projects. Donations of the students of O. B. Montessori Center, Inc. and the minimum voluntary contributions given by parents of the Pagsasarili Schools likewise keep the project sustainable.

From 2005 to the present, 120 more day care centers were converted in the Province of Batangas through the yearly initiatives of Governor Vilma Santos-Recto and her DSWD heads. The Department of Education, through former Secretary Jesli Lapuz, had 50 public school teachers trained on the Pagsasarili system and later used the preschool materials in public schools all over Luzon – a more difficult re-training effort.

In the Visayas and Mindanao, we trained laboratory teachers of teacher-training universities in Leyte, Cadiz, Valencia, Negros Oriental and Mati, Davao state university for intern education students to experience handling a Pagsasarili Preschool. As the former UNESCO Secretary-General of the Philippine National Commission, I was able to get funding for projects promoting EFA for sustainable development, such as the training of public school teachers in Region 3 on the Montessori Cosmic Curriculum, the integration of this in the HEKASI subjects of pilot classes in Sen. Maria Kalaw Katigbak Memorial School in Lipa City, and the integration of the Pagsasarili curriculum into the public elementary school in Angeles City, called the EFA-Dakar Pilot Project for Quality Basic Education.

The Joan of Arc of the Visayas aids agri projects

PRM Foundation, Inc. Pablita Rosal Magbanua is the descendant of Teresa Ferraris Magbanua, considered the Joan of Arc of the Visayas after being the only woman who led troops against Spanish, Japanese and American forces. PRM Foundation executive director Genevieve Magbanua Lao established it in honor of her mother. It is dedicated to providing financial assistance and grants for individuals and groups who apply bio-dynamic principles in intensifying economic growth of such products as bamboo, abaca, aqua-resources and other indigenous resources.

The foundation first operated on Ms. Lao’s retirement fund in 1999 and having grown through the years they now receive foreign funding for their projects. Sourcing funds for farmers, fishermen and the like is easy but a donee foundation is obliged to pay taxes for these foreign funds if they are not recognized by DSWD as a SWDA. Ms. Lao’s desire to help is dampened by so much government regulations but in the long run, this is intended to prevent the spread of bogus organizations.

Unioil Foundation, Inc. has been operating in the Philippines since 1968 in providing petroleum solutions and market alternatives for oils, fuels and lubricants. In 2008, it established its foundation to provide educational and medical assistance, feeding programs and volunteer deployment starting in Sta. Ana, Manila and later in Bataan and Valenzuela. As a neophyte foundation, its executive director Angelina Co, and project manager Grace Pizarro are still learning the ropes of social welfare service.

The nationwide network of corporate foundations

League of Corporate Foundations, Inc. (LCF) is a “nationwide network of corporate foundations and corporations in the Philippines that promote and enhance the practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) among its members and the business community, towards sustained national development.” LCF has 81 members, including 65 corporate foundations that harmonize their resources and efforts to promote best practices in CSR, the creation of CSR in the business sector and the advocacy of transparency and legitimacy of CSRs.

Helen Orande, the executive director, relates that they celebrate an annual CSR expo and conference every first week of July. This event gathers the business community and other sectors to discuss the trends, models and practices in CSR. They aim to come up with a CSR framework that could support the nation’s sustainable development.

The LCF website describes the following committees under which its member corporate foundations belong: The Committee on Education advocates education reform to be a national priority by partnering with the Department of Education and holding dialogues with concerned educational and training institutions in both the private and public sector. The Enterprise Development Committee, or EntrepComm, aims to promote entrepreneurship as a viable channel towards development. “Tara, Magnegosyo!” is a program that promotes entrepreneurship among adults, training suppliers to access big business as market outlet. For the youth, it has joined hands with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation in the conduct of the 3-day Youth Business Camp to generate livelihood among the out of school youth in communities where the LCF members operate.

The Environmental Committee undertakes projects tackling air/carbon reduction, water and sanitation, waste management, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem protection and management, in response to the alarming phenomenon of climate change.

Participation of Japanese companies and Italian religious order

Jesus V. Del Rosario Foundation, Inc. Jesus V. Del Rosario founded the Engineering and Machinery Corp.(EMCOR) in 1958 as the franchise dealer of International Harvester (IH) and a nationwide retail network selling motorcycles and home appliances through cash and installment plans. The foundation in his name is now involved in providing financial and material resources for partner agencies, including scholarship to about 300 students in all levels, assistance to 107 schools from various regions and even teacher training for multi-grade and physics teachers. The executive director, Gina Bulanhagi, reveals that such a wide-spread operation requires an annual budget of about P50 million, mostly sourced from dividends of donations from Japanese companies like Panasonic and Kawasaki.

Servants of Charity Guanella Center St. Louis Guanella is an Italian priest who opened a facility in 1904 for the street children of Rome. His apostolate for serving the poor and disabled children of Italy spread until he founded the Servants of Charity congregation whose vows of service are for poverty, chastity and obedience. Guanellian Missions all over the world take care of the poorest of the poor, especially those who have no one to care for them. The Guanella Center in the Philippines started in 1989 and now serves as a school and shelter for hundreds of needy people with disabilities. This residential care facility is run by its president, Fr. Eduardo Cerbito. Their community-based programs and services include developmental and rehabilitation programs, physical and occupational therapy, medical and legal assistance, job placement assistance and special catechesis in NCR and Region V.

UN agencies come to the succor of various refugees

Community and Family Services International, Inc. (CFSI) is a Philippine-based international NGO that began in 1981. According to John Lumanog, the Executive Director, their work began among the Vietnamese refugees in Bataan and now continues to help rebuild lives of victims of armed conflict, those who are internally displaced, survivors of disasters and other unusual situations like child trafficking and abuse by providing health education, psychosocial first aid, child protection, shelter and disaster risk management for children, youth and communities in Regions I – XII, CAR, CARAGA and NCR. Their operations are carried out also in Myanmar and Vietnam while also working with other ASEAN countries. With such an international network and operation, CFSI has an annual budget amounting to P100 million acquired from UN agencies, various international NGOs and even gifts in kind from various sources.

Everlasting benefits of sincere service to humanity

Our so called leaders seem to have forgotten that earthly life is short but their souls are immortal — as they pursue wealth and power, and ignore the disadvantaged countrymen. Let them ponder on these biblical adages, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36); “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” (Matthew 6:20).

(For feedback, email at precious.soliven@yahoo.com)        

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