Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) released the new edition of Casa Gorordo in Cebu written by Resil B. Mojares last 15th of December, 2017, the same day since CGM opens its doors 34 years ago.

The first edition of the book was first released in 1983, in time for the opening of the museum. It enjoyed several reprintings before it became out of print. Now, 34 years after it’s first publication, RAFI released an updated version of the book with a new cover and layout.

The book received the National Book Award, for the Social Science category, the most prestigious award given for books produced in the country.

The book is an attempt at a socio-historical construction; a documentation of the changes in the life of both ‘house’ and the Parian district in the closing decades of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century.

“RAFI with the opening of Casa Gorordo became the forerunner of museums in Cebu, especially, since in the 1980s [where] museums were almost unheard of.” Dr. Mojares, one of the country’s leading cultural scholar, said during the launch.

Casa Gorordo in Cebu is the first offering of the Research & Publications department of the RAFI’s Culture & Heritage unit; several books are in line and scheduled for release in 2018.

In her opening remarks during the launching of the book, Ms. Dominica Chua, RAFI President and Chief Operating Officer, said that “RAFI sees publications as instruments of documenting past knowledge and practices so they will not be just relegated into memory.”

She also said that, “Publications, at the same time, are means of imparting the Cebuanos’ story which has to be proudly shared to the world.”

“Sharing our story [begets] pride in our identity and heritage,” Chua added.

Ms. Amaya Aboitiz-Fansier, RAFI Board of Trustees member, presented the book to the public, together with Dr. Mojares.

Also, present in the launch were Ambassador Vicente Bandillo, who is also a poet; Cultural scholars such as Dr. Erlinda Alburo and Dr. Madrileña dela Cerna; Partners from Cebu’s museum network; Members of the academe and the literary circle of Cebu; Librarians from the different universities of Cebu; and friends from the media.

The new edition of Casa Gorordo in Cebu is sold at the Casa Gorordo Museum shop at Php 500 for softbound copy and Php 1,500 for hardbound copy. For inquiries or reservations of the book, please contact +63 32 411-1700 local 24536.

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WakaWaka Stories of Hope

Stories from the field written by CFSI staffs | December 21, 2017

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We were forced to eat our dinner as early as possible because we have no source of light. But now, we can enjoy our meal and able to eat whatever time we want since we have now owned a WakaWaka. We are no longer depending on the tapped solar light from our neighbor. Also, it is easier for me to do my tasks, like; when going to the comfort room at night; when eating dinner and since it is a solar I find it easier to charge it.” – Cayamora Dilabacun, 71 years old, Internally Displaced Person from Perez, Banggolo, Marawi City to Brgy. Daguan, Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur.

Ramla Dimaampao an IDP staying in Upper Igabay Evacuation Center, Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur. Her family came all the way from Barrio Naga, Marawi City. She shares, “The WakaWaka greatly helped my lactating daughters every night when they are preparing their children’s milk. My grandchildren can now go to comfort rooms on their own since they have a handy WakaWaka unit.”

“My WakaWaka unit helped me a lot in doing my household chores. We can now charge our phone for free unlike before, we pay 10 pesos per charge. My children can even play freely at night without worrying that they might be hurt. We also used the unit overnight to lessen our children’s fear in the dark every night.” – Minang, a mother, 47 years old from Mahad Division Evacuation Center, Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
The provision of solar lights, WakaWaka, helped IDPs in various quarters across evacuation centers especially when children cannot sleep due to absence of electricity. In addition, the solar powered light charger also helps them especially when their phone drains where they pay 10 pesos to charge for just 1 hour enough to charge a cellular phone for at least 50 to 80 percent.

“This help is a souvenir that we will bring with us when we return to Marawi City soon. The siege is unforgettable experience and nightmare,” commented Mujahid Ampuan, 29 years old, a responsible father of 3 and a hardworking provider.


What started as an idea passed around among team members ultimately led to an afternoon of discovering the sport of Dragon boating. Facilitated by Christian Ian Sy and participated by members of the Cebu Pink Paddlers team, nineteen (19) RAFI employees underwent a basic orientation on Dragon boating at the Plenary Hall of the Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center last December 4, 2017.

An international team paddling sport that started in 1976, Dragon boating has now increasingly gained popularity and following in Luzon and now in the Visayas region.

By organizing the orientation, RAFI employees led by Integrated Development Unit-Humanitarian Disaster Preparedness & Response (IDU-HDPR) Supervisor Christopher Estallo and Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC) Team Leader Ronald Delos Reyes, hoped to engender strong interest and participation that would ultimately lead to establishing a dragon boat team for RAFI.

Coach Chris of Cebu Pink Paddlers Dragon boat Team and the Philippine Accessibility Disability Services, Inc. (PADS) Adaptive Dragon boat Racing Team discussed the history and organization of a dragon boat as well as oriented employees on the proper handling of a paddle.

The orientation also highlighted testimonials from members of the award-winning Cebu Pink Paddlers, composed of a team of women cancer survivors, and coach Chris himself, who shared videos of the team’s winning performances in a recent competition in Taiwan. They also answered various queries and shared their personal experiences to further inspire RAFInians.

At the end of the session, employee-attendees pledged their participation in the proposed training sessions leading to the formal establishment of a RAFI dragon boat club set to begin in 2018.

RAFI also sees this new initiative as an opportunity to promote personal wellness, camaraderie and team work amongst Dragon boating enthusiasts and as well as to serve pride as the official representative of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. to the sport.

Today, “BUGSAI TA BAI!” will now cease to be just an expression, RAFInians will have the chance to learn and live by it.

RAFI Dragon boat Team also plans to compete in the Cebu Dragon Boat Festival in April 13 to 15, 2018.

Mega Cebu continues its strides in the Local Government Unit (LGU) level by closing the year with high hopes for the future. On December 7, the Mega Cebu Focal Team and Purok Coordinators held its year-end review and planning session at the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Plenary Hall.

The meeting was attended by most of the LGUs comprising Metro Cebu. It was opened by Ms. Evelyn Nacario-Castro, the Executive Director of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board – Research, Programs, and Organizational Development (MCDCB-RPOD) Project Management Office (PMO), through presenting updates on Mega Cebu, highlighting milestones and the projects’ progress reports.

A review session was then facilitated wherein each of the focal team identified and assessed their respective projects and initiatives for the annual year 2017 which were aligned with the Mega Cebu Vision.

In the same workshop, the LGUs also determined the gaps and challenges in moving forward with their plans for their respective cities and municipalities. Some participants also shared some concerns such as the challenge of maintaining the Focal Teams for each LGU.

After the presentation of outputs, another workshop was conducted to draw up the Mega Cebu Medium Term Plan for the years 2018 to 2020. This started with the identification of the Mega Cebu Medium Term Priority Goals.

Wherein, the goals identified and prioritized for 2018 to 2020 were waste management, integrated operations center for public safety and traffic, river improvement & revitalization, and clean water and sanitation.

From these, they marked out the targets and key performance indicators and outlined action plans for each goal.

To end the planning workshop, a simple Bugsay signing ceremony was done to signify the commitment of each focal team to the Metro Cebu Medium Term Development Goal.

The Mega Cebu Focal Teams in each LGUs is an important resource in gathering and sustaining the support of the LGUs for the Mega Cebu Vision for they play a major role in creating interventions that result to a positive impact among the Cebuanos and their communities.

The work of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB) for Metro Cebu continues as the Board’s 4th Quarter meeting was held at the newly constructed Fonti de Versailles in Minglanilla, Cebu; Hon. Elanito Peña welcomed the attendees last December 13.

In the absence of the MCDCB Chairperson Gov. Hilario Davide III, private sector co-chair (alternate) and Cebu Business Club President Mr. Gordon Alan Joseph presided the meeting.

The board first reviewed and ratified several resolutions drafted during the Research, Program and Organizational Development (RPOD) Executive Committee meetings; this includes the Resolution to include Butuanon River as a priority river of the flood control project of DPWH.

Another resolution reviewed indicates to support the recommendations of JICA’s Inception Report on the Preparatory Survey on the Septic Tank Sludge Treatment Construction Project for Metro Cebu.

There were several questions raised by the members of the board and these were endorsed to specific national government agencies for them to address.

The meeting was also a venue to share accomplishments on different projects from the Focus Area Based Committees (FABComs) and their respective subcommittees on the activities they have conducted throughout the year.

Councilor Nilo Seno of Mandaue City, Councilor Junjie Cruz and Municipality of San Fernando Mayor Hon. Lakambini Reluya were also present to share to the Board their insights and action plans during their attendance in the 6th Asia Smart Cities Conference in Yokohama Japan last October 25 to 27, 2017.

Lastly, the MCDCB 4th Quarter Meeting ended with a presentation that recognizes distinguished MCDCB members and partners who contributed to the progress of the projects bringing closer to the fulfilment of the Mega Cebu 2050 vision.


The children of Bata ng Calabnugan sent their season’s greetings and appreciation to the RAFI-Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund (RAFI-DACF).

Children wrote their personal notes of gratitude and well wishes to RAFI-DACF. These children were happy and grateful for being beneficiary of the educational assistance provided by RAFI-DACF.

Bata ng Calabnugan is a home for abandoned, neglected and abused children from the different communities in Sibulan, Negros Oriental.

RAFI-DACF started supporting them through educational assistance in 2016 by partially paying for the tuition of thirty one (31) children enrolled in a private school in Dumaguete City.

RAFI-DACF have supported various programs and projects for the disadvantaged children in Visayas and some parts of Luzon and Mindanao; Bata ng Calabnugan is one of the projects supported under RAFI-DACF’s Grants Program; the educational assistance for the children will run through until 2020

It was a fun and joyful moment for the children of RAFI employees last December 2, 2017 as RAFI Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund (RAFI-DACF) organized a one-day RAFI Children’s Day for the sons, daughter, nephews, nieces and grandchildren of RAFI employees.

The RAFI Children’s Day was held at the new gym of Don Bosco Technology Center at Punta Princesa, Labangon, Cebu City, started at 9 in the morning and ended at 3:30 in the afternoon.

It was a day of Filipino games that was facilitated by partners from EDU, EADSC, RMF and RAFI interns. Children of RAFI employees enjoyed playing various Pinoy games that was unfamiliar to them and requires agility and rapid physical movements.

Along with the games that the children enjoyed during the one-day event was the science workshops and shows of The Mind Mobile team of the Mind Museum in Taguig City.

There were different simultaneous workshops for different age groups which were participated by children from two (2) to 17 years old. The different workshops were designed according to the ages of the pre-registered children and the culminating activity for the Mind Mobile was the Science show for all ages.

Another activity held on that day was the Christmas Angel Making facilitated by the Culture and Heritage Unit (CHU) of RAFI. This was a great activity for the family as they were given the change to design and assemble their own angel Christmas ornament that they brought home after.

The event aims to gather the children of RAFI employees and develop a culture of fellowship and camaraderie amongst them and to also encourage RAFI employees to have quality time with their children.

The 7th Congressional District of Cebu is in the southwest corridor of the Province and is made up of eight municipalities from Dumanjug to Ginatilan. The area is home to several top destinations such as Moalboal’s dive spots and Badian’s majestic Kawasan Falls, and tourist arrivals have grown in recent years. Despite this, the district’s overall poverty incidence remains the highest in the entire province.

To address this, the Cebu Provincial Government, Rep. Peter John D. Calderon (7 th district), and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) formalized their commitment for the development of the district through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Integrated Area Development (IAD) Program.

The 7th district will be the pilot district for the district-wide integrated area development approach for integrated planning and local economic development through a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach.

The MOU was signed by RAFI Chairman and CEO Jon Ramon Aboitiz, Cebu Gov. Hilario P. Davide III, and Rep. Calderon. Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, and Provincial Board (PB) Members Christopher Baricuatro and Jerome Librando, and municipal mayors of the district signed as witness to the document.

District 7 officials demonstrated their commitment to the program the following days during the District 7 Team Building session facilitated by RAFI’s Kool Adventure Camp at Hale Manna Beach Resort in Moalboal.

The team building was attended by Calderon, the PB Members, the municipal mayors and their representatives, and representatives from the Province.

The activity focused on strengthening relationships between participants, understanding the benefits of teamwork, and discussing next steps for the program.

The youth comprise a big chunk in the population of the Philippines. They are said to be passionate, idealistic and hardworking. And with a little motivation they can learn anything in just a small span of time.

The best thing about the youth is that if they can unite with a common goal, they can create a positive change to the society, a great impact for the common good.

January of this year, a friend invited me to join the Club Mega, a youth group that supports smart growth for Metro Cebu through the Mega Cebu project. And, as I aspire to be one of the forerunners in advocating for positive change in our community, I, along with my team from the Cebu City National Science High School (CCNSHS) accepted the challenge and said ‘yes’ to the call.

First, what is Mega Cebu? Mega Cebu is a long term program promoted and spearheaded by the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), a consortium of 12 Local Government Units namely Carcar City, City of Naga, Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City, Liloan, Mandaue City, Minglanilla San Fernando, and Talisay City, National Government Agencies, Civil Society, and the Private Sector.

The program aims to make Metro Cebu Wholesome, Advanced, Vibrant, Equitable, and Sustainable by 2050.

Every September each year, we celebrate the Mega Cebu Month through various activities that are being conducted by different organizations to promote the Mega Cebu Program: fun runs, contests, learning sessions, conventions, forums and other fun-filled activities that one will enjoy during the celebration.

In line with this, the Club Mega organized the Mega Cebu Youth Convention where the youth from different local government unit including the government officials and employees gathered together in support of Mega Cebu.

The convention highlights inspiring stories from the youth who are making a difference in their own communities. Amongst those who shared their stories are Olympin and Gold Medalist, Mary Joy Reyes Tabal, Technologian Leaders Academy Founder, Roxanne Hernaez, Student Innovator Arianwen Rollan and Maria Georgia Cogtas of Dilaab Foundation Inc.

They challenged the youth to make a change in the simplest ways like proper garbage segregation or volunteer in different causes.

Liloan City Mayor Ma. Esperanza Christina C. Frasco, also presented how they were able to influence the youth to get involve in various programs of their local government.

Asec. Rhea Penaflor of the National Youth Commission also graced the event and challenged the youth to be more active in development.

“The Mega Cebu Youth Convention is one of the avenues where we can inspire the youth to participate, to take part. This is our call to action. We are saying that Mega Cebu is for you and you shall be the leaders of this province.” Ms. Caroline Ballesteros of Mega Cebu said in an interview.

This convention will never be successful without very supportive partners, the Cebu Provincial Capitol, the Aboitiz Group and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.

“What’s interesting about the Club Mega is that it is composed of youth from different schools and universities that are focused on helping create a better Cebu.

Currently, the Club has seven existing Chapters: Cebu Normal University, Cebu City National Science High School, Cebu Institute of Technology-University, USC-TC, USC-SHS, University of the Philippines, and USJ-R. We are inviting student to establish Club Mega in their schools because this is their way of showing support of the Mega Cebu Program,” Divine Canon of Club Mega, said.

Continuing capability building programs through the Mega Cebu School of Leaders are being implemented to enhance competence, strengthening of character, and promote active citizenship to the youth. To learn more about Club Mega, you may call Divine Canon through (032) 411-1700.

If more people, groups, businesses, and leaders join and support Mega Cebu, a wave of more sustainable projects, a wave of driven and passionate people, and a wave of smart growth and development will come to the province of Cebu.

Pwede ba nga magtinabangay ta para sa Kalambuan sa Cebu? Pwede Kaayo!

Water is a basic human need. In fact, on July of 2010, the United Nations recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

However, in most developing countries such as the Philippines, access to clean and potable water is still considered a privilege.

And to take few steps to address this problem, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. Micro-finance (RMF) established a partnership with an international NGO, Water.org, a US-based non-government organization which helps families and communities by providing them with their own clean water and sanitation system particularly those who do not have access to safe drinking water and clean toilet facilities.

Through their Water-Credit program, Water.org partners with micro-finance institutions which provide loans to their clients to create a clean and sanitary facility for client’s families to live in.

From September 7 to 8, 2017, Water.org and RMF had their kick off seminar wherein they had an orientation on the processes of the new related RMF financial product which requires a budget and a work plan.

In alignment to the RMF mission of supporting elevate the lives of their clients through promoting health and their well-being, it is significant for RMF to promote and raise awareness on maintaining healthy lifestyle for them to continually support their family’s needs.

“Through this partnership with Water.org, we will improve processes of implementing Water and Sanitation (WASH) program which is actually one of the identified needs of our clients in the rural areas. With the efforts on the WASH program, we promote the dignity of clients in terms of having a safer drinking water, sanitized toilets. Furthermore, such partnership with Water.org as an International NGO strengthens partnerships to International NGOs of RMF,” Jonar Doradao, RMF Deputy Director for Business Development, said.

“I do not know what course of action to take… I am an office-based staff and our organization needed to respond — I just cried alone after we distributed the relief.”

“I’ve been in the humanitarian field for quite some time now, but my family is affected by the recent strong typhoon, what should I priorities — this is just stressful.”

“Ï know I have to be focused, alert, and active because I understand that we are in an emergency situation but I can only do us much…”

These are but anecdotes of humanitarian aid colleagues faced with challenging and stressful situations whether deployed in the field or tasked at base. Undeniably, stress is doubled up when faced with difficult circumstance and triggered by traumatic experiences while alleviating sufferings of disaster-affected population.

Study shows that chronic stress and trauma within the humanitarian sector is increasingly revealing. For example, the Guardian newspaper conducted a survey of humanitarian workers in 2015. The results revealed that an astonishing 79% of the 754 aid workers surveyed had experienced mental health issues, of which 93% indicated this was directly related to working within the humanitarian sector itself.

Other recent research into the well-being of humanitarian workers has also revealed similar shocking findings to the extent of the impact of stress and trauma amongst humanitarian workers. Research conducted in 2011, compared the rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the US and European general population, approximately 6.6%, and 1.9% respectively, to humanitarian workers. The researchers observed that aid workers had PTSD rates that ranged from 8% to a staggering 43%.

In addition to these disturbing statistics, a survey conducted by the Mindfulness and Well-being project component in late 2016 also revealed that 48% of deployed staff had indicated they had experienced ‘a threat to their life’.

These surveys illustrate the exposure to stressful and traumatic situations, and the chronic state of stress and mental illness experienced by aid workers in the humanitarian sector, and the need to prioritize mental health.

In the Philippines, the creation and piloting of the first Well-being Cluster in Cebu offers a practical and tangible opportunity for agencies to address, mitigate, and positively change the way in which mental health is managed and approached in the humanitarian sector.

The approach may be pioneering, but more importantly, it is desperately needed and definitely needed by our workers and first responders.

Start Up Meetings

In July and September this year, the first steps to create a new way in which we deal with well-being and humanitarian issues in the humanitarian sector begun. Meeting and workshops followed a series of meetings both in Manila and Cebu, and attended by numerous local, national, and international agencies, government departments, UN bodies and other stakeholders.

These start up meetings were held as a joint endeavour of the Mindfulness and Well-being component of the Start Network’s Transforming Surge Capacity project, Central Visayas Network of NGOs (CENVISNET), and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), where the event was hosted by RAFI in Cebu City. The endeavour is also being supported by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and numerous local and international NGOs.

This creation of the Well-being Cluster is part of a wider portfolio of projects being funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Disasters Emergency Preparedness Programme (DEPP), which is exploring how well-being approaches can be improved and transformed within the humanitarian sector.

The primary objective of this pioneering project is to create and pilot a dedicated platform that brings humanitarian agencies from across the Philippines together to prioritize the well-being of aid workers, with a key focus on supporting their mental health, and ultimately for our beneficiaries.

In essence, the creation of this first pilot platform, or ‘Well-being Cluster’, is to support aid workers more effectively before, during and after a humanitarian response, where they often witness and experience the suffering of others. This can often have deep emotional and psychological effects for humanitarian workers.

Well-being Clusters – The Vision

The Well-being Cluster being piloted in Cebu, is envisaged to potentially be the first of many localized clusters across the Philippines, and perhaps, even, globally.

In its simplest form, these multi-agency ‘clusters’ will link local and national NGOs, with INGOs, governmental departments and key stakeholders to work together in strategically building the capacity of both individuals and organizations in all aspects of well-being related to mental health.

The vision is for the cluster agencies to work together in pooling their resources around wellbeing. For example, in gathering the necessary well-being resources, services, expertise, and training materials to share amongst their staff.

The multi-agency approach means that costs can potentially be reduced, training can be quality controlled and made more consistent, and the capacity of organizations can be increased via the promotion of well-being policies, training of trainers, monitoring and evaluation frameworks for wellbeing, and protocols around good practice.

The localized approach also means that the well-being needs can be contextualized where appropriate, and that cultural taboos and stigma around metal illness may also be challenged by differing perspectives from other approaches globally.

Importantly, the localized ‘cluster’ approach means that individuals and organizations can connect and grow together in challenging and catalyzing mental health issues, and in building capacity together as a community, rather than in isolated pockets. This working together may allow for greater coordination before, during and after a crisis or disaster.

The focus on prevention and preparedness is a key emphasis for the well-being clusters, as it links directly to building capacity and resilience at both individual and organizational level, and to ensure that agreements and coordination mechanisms are agreed prior to a disaster or crisis occurring.

This emphasis on preparedness may ensure that the well-being support is prioritized and made available to personnel at the grassroots level during emergencies, further supporting resilience and in mitigating stress and trauma where possible.

Additionally, post-crisis, the well-being cluster agencies will be better prepared to support personnel affected or requiring support following their interventions, via suitable services and training available at local level.

The term ‘cluster’ was deliberately hijacked to ‘mirror’ the UN Clusters, to establish the importance of well-being and to prioritize the support humanitarian personnel receive before, during and after a crisis regarding their mental health.

Given the chronic crisis in mental illness and stress affecting aid workers globally, the use of the term’ cluster’ was carefully chosen to create a benign, yet provocative, advocacy for change within the sector. In essence, the need to prioritize mental well-being is now compelling.

As such, meetings offered agencies and stakeholders to participate, engage, and input into the discussions, design, development and constitution of the Well-being Clusters, as well as the resourcing and services that could be offered before, during, and post-crises.

Ultimately, with the establishment of this first pilot cluster in Cebu City, the aim is to replicate clusters in Manila, Tacloban, and Davao, as well as globally.

Well-being Clusters -— Key Principles

The key principles for the creation of the well-being clusters are to ensure local ownership, autonomy, sustainability, and relevance. As such, the agencies engaged with project are currently exploring a variety of components that will make this possible.

For example, RAFI, CENVISNET, and the HLA are leading the working group on establishing a governance structure, and technical working group to help coordinate the creation of the cluster itself, and then to manage the activities and services of the cluster itself.

In addition, psychosocial experts from Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, and San Carlos University are also supporting the endeavour by providing their psychological expertise, and research and mapping skills to establish a baseline and ascertain the needs and within agencies and communities being supported.

Further working groups are also currently beginning to explore how the clusters can be made sustainable financially, and how the clusters can communicate effectively within the agencies and for advocacy on mental health. Working groups will also focus on developing well-being policies and monitoring and evaluation frameworks to keep track of well-being of staff, and organizational support, both key aspects of capacity building and starting points for prioritizing well-being within aid agencies.

Key principles for the clusters being developed will ensure a core set of guiding values are followed, and remain consistent as the clusters are replicated.

These will include, ensuring multi-stakeholder ownership, a revolving annual leadership, committee based decision-making, autonomy via sustainable finances, localized focus, emphasis on preparedness and prevention, quality control of resources and services being offered, open learning focus, independence, gender sensitive and proactive empowerment of women, ethical standards, non-denominational approach, etc.

A Movement for Change

As the data on the chronic stress and trauma within the humanitarian sector is increasingly revealing, the need to address and prioritize mental well-being in the sector is now critical.

The creation and pilot of the first well-being cluster in Cebu offers a practical and tangible opportunity for agencies to address, mitigate, and positively change the way in which mental health is managed and approached in the humanitarian sector. The approach may be pioneering, but more importantly, it is desperately needed and definitely needed by our workers and first responders.

As such, the creation of the well-being cluster in Cebu is an important first step towards a better way to support our workers, not only here in the Philippines, but perhaps globally as well.

The SM Cares Housing Project is now on the third year of project implementation which aims to establish a progressive, self-sustaining and self-reliant community. The project started in 2014, and after three (3) years of social development activities, RAFI will now formally turnover the project to the Homeowners Association.

The event will be held at SM Cares Village Bogo, Brgy. Polambato, Bogo City this coming November 25, 2017. It will be attended by the various donors of SM Foundation, City LGU of Bogo, donors and partners of the housing project.

“Malipayon kay nakalahutay mig tulo ka tuig sa among pag-puyo dinhi sa Village. Among paningkamutan nga among magamit ang among mga nakat-uanan sa mga gihatag nga trainings sa RAFI” (I am happy that we survived three years living in this village. We will make sure to use the knowledge we acquired from the trainings we had from RAFI.) Daisy Lequigan, Secretary, said.

Another highlight for this event will be the free mass wedding or Kasalang Bayan which will be sponsored by SM Foundation Inc. and Felicidad Foundation. This is in coordination with the HOA officers and cohabiting couples in the village. The Kasalang Bayan was proposed by their elders during one of their monthly meetings.

“Importante gayud nga makasal sila kay aron mas lig-on ang ilang pagkuyugay isip usa ka magtiayon og pamilya nga adunay bendisyon” (It’s very important that they get married to strengthen their bond as husband and wife or as a couple and for the blessing of their family.) Linda Lequigan, HOA Officer, said.

“Daghan mi naagihan nga mga kalisod isip mga opisyales dinhi sa asosasyon, pero nagpabilin ra gihapaon mi nga adunay panglantaw sa kadaghanan, nga mubarog ang gihapon sa pag achieve sa among vision nga mamintinar namo ang kalinaw, kahasay sa among pag- puyo dinhi sa village” (We have been through a lot of hardship as association officials but we are still looking at the good of the majority. We will remain firm in achieving our vision in maintaining peace and order in this village.) Nilo Montesclaros, BOD Chairman, said.

Based on the profiling conducted, there are 68 cohabiting couples in the village who are not yet married. Most of these couples cannot afford to pay for the expenses for a church or civil wedding.

“Excited na ko nga makasal na jud mi sa akong kaipon, taud-taud na jud nag-plano nga magpakasal mi. Sa sige og plano, nanganak na lang ko og nidaku na lang akong pinakaunang anak… wa jud mi nakasal. Tungod sad kini kay gi-priority namo ang pag-eskwela” (I’m really excited to get married with my partner. We’ve been planning to get married a very long time ago, until I got pregnant and my eldest child just grew up and all, still we haven’t gotten married because we prioritized our child’s education.) Ma. Cecelia Versaga, a beneficiary of the Kasalang Bayan project, said.

“Daku kayo mig kalipay nga giapil nila ning programa para namong wa pa makasal, amo sad trabahoon ang among parte sa mga dokumento nga ipasa og asikasohon sa kasal. Salamat daan sa mga mutabag sa among kasal” (We are very happy that they have included this program for us – unmarried couples. We will also do our part in processing all the documents needed for the wedding. We are also extending our advance gratitude to our sponsors.) Jay-anne Ortega, a beneficiary of the Kasalang Bayan project, said.

In preparation for this big event, HOA and take the lead in beautifying and cleaning up their village through bayanihan.

“Mao ra ni among pamaagi nga ipakita sa mga nagtabang og naghatag namo’g balay nga pag-abot nila dinhi malipay sad sila nga limpyo, hapsay og nindot ang among palibot. Og nga amo sad kining giampingan ang among pag-puyo dinhi sa village” (This is our way of showing gratitude to the people who helped us and gave us our home that when they visit, they will see that we are maintaining a clean and orderly surrounding. That we are also taking good care of our village.) Lowie Calabia, HOA, said.

“Pina-agi sa pagbayanihan, nindot tan-awon og paminawon nga kaming namuyo diri sa village nga mamintinar jud ang kalimpyohan para sad kini sa among mga anak nga malayo sad sila sa mga sakit” (Through bayanihan, it is nice to see that we, the villagers, are maintaining cleanliness. For we are doing this for our children, to keep them away from diseases.) Joel Caroscos, HOA, said.

Part of the program will be the symbolic turnover of the documents for HOA. A certificate awardee will be given while HOA will give a copy of the community policies and plans to the SM Foundation.

And the most anticipated part of the program is the thanksgiving presentation of the HOA whereby HOA Officers and youth leaders will be showcasing their talents skills to the donors and partners of the housing project.

RAFI will continue to ensure the success of the activity through weekly meetings and event management sessions with the HOA Officers, the main anchor of this event.