A total of seven child development centers (CDCs) with playground facilities were turned over to two municipalities by the Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation (RAFI-DACF) in separate occasions.

 

Three CDCs with playground facilities were tuned over to the Municipality of Argao last August 10, 2018, while four CDCs with playground facilities were turned over to the Municipality of Ginatilan last August 14, 2018. 

 

Barangays Linut-od, Sua, and Sumaguan in Argao received their fully furnished and quality-assured CDCs with playground facilities. The three new CDCs with playground facilities bring to 17 the total number of facilities that RAFI-DACF has turned over to 17 barangays in Argao since 2015.

 

“We are very thankful to RAFI-DACF for this partnership. We are looking forward to make all 48 child development centers here in Argao to be RAFI-built. We are almost halfway there as we will be entering a MOA with RAFI for two more (CDCs),” said Argao Mayor Stanley Caminero during the August 10 activity. 

 

Four days later, Barangays Cambagte, Cañorong, Mangaco, and Salamanca in Ginatilan received four CDCs with playground facilities. These four barangays are the town’s farthest and mountainous areas, with one barangay serving as the boundary of between Ginatilan and Oslob town. 

 

“We would like to thank RAFI for the four (CDCs) which are located in the mountain areas of Ginatilan. We hope that this will not be the end of our partnership because we are processing the requirements to add four more CDCs in other areas of the municipality,” Said Ginatilan Mayor Dean Michael Singco. 

 

This year, RAFI-DACF has turned over 12 CDCs with playground facilities. Eight more are up for turnover while 22 CDCs are subject for bidding. 

 

The Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation (RAFI-DACF) aims to improve Early Childhood Care and Development condition at the grassroots level by providing capabilities to the Local Government Units to effectively track children’s development and by constructing quality early learning centers. Its Grants Program also supports initiatives promoting the welfare and development of children in all ages.

The Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI-EJACC) is working with the Technical Education & Skills Development Authority (Tesda) 7 to open up opportunities for cancer patients and survivors to participate in various skills training program.

Last July 31, 2018. EJACC and Tesda signed a memorandum of agreement that marked the start of the partnership. The signing was held in Tesda’s conference room.

Present during the signing for Tesda were Regional Director Toni June Tamayo, ROD Chief Madelina Salarda, Negros Oriental Provincial Director Floro Ringca, FASD Chief Ma. Isabel Buenauceso, and some staff.

RAFI-EJACC was represented by RAFI-VP for Social Development Atty. James Abadia, RAFI-EJACC Program Coordinator Ronald delos Reyes, RAFI-EJACC Project Officer for Cancer Survivorship Karen Jane Wenceslao, and RAFI-EJACC patient beneficiaries.

In partnering with Tesda, RAFI-EJACC believes the agency’s training programs could help equip the patient beneficiaries with the necessary skills that could help them augment their families’ finances.

The training scholarship will kickoff after a series of orientations and consultations with both parties is held.

The Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI-EJACC) saves those who can be saved by eradicating the stigma of cancer through its programs in cancer advocacy & education, screening & early detection, treatment assistance and Palliative Care.

To cap the first half of 2018, Mega Cebu gathered members of the media to update them on big-ticket projects. The activity was held at the Plenary Hall of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. – Eduardo Aboitiz Development and Studies Center last July 9.

Among the updates given were on the projected completion of the Metro Cebu Urban Transport Master Plan currently being done by the Department of Transportation together with a project team from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Engr. Lynn Madrona, JICA project team consultant, presented the milestones of the project.

Madrona said project team has prepared the interim report for discussion in the following months. This report contains the basic policy of the master plan and the preliminary evaluation of the five priority projects. The five priority projects are as follows:

Meanwhile, Engr. Luis Paredes, regional project manager of the Department of Public Works and Highways 7, presented updates on the Metro Cebu Flood Control and Drainage Improvements Project. He presented the projects, which include improvement of rivers and the drainage system in Metro Cebu to minimize flooding.

Lastly, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), represented by Engr. Emmanuel Espina, gave updates on the Septage Management Project. He mentioned that after several reviews and deliberations, only one of the three identified project sites remain viable for the septage treatment plant. Currently, MCWD is coordinating with the City of Cebu and Province of Cebu for the preparation of the main project site — the Amcon site in the North Reclamation Area. Espina, however, explained that while the Amcon site can cater to the present requirements, it will not be enough to address additional needs beyond 2030.

Also present during the event were key leaders of Mega Cebu including Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB) co-chairperson and RAFI President & COO Dominica B. Chua and Gordon Alan Joseph, Executive Committee chairman of the MCDCB Research, Program, and Organizational Development.

The Governance and Linkages Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-G&L) seeks to foster responsive institutions and an engaged citizenry through awards and recognition, good governance and leadership development programs, and active linkages and platforms of engagement and collaboration.

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IAMRAFI: Where My Passion

Leads Me

The Story of Constantine ‘Tats’ Niala Samson,

Senior Program Officer, 27 Years in Service

By Marco Paulo Trajano Deligero  | August 29, 2018

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For almost three decades now, Constantine or Tats as he is fondly called, passionately contributes to the growth of RAFI in the best way he could — community development.

 

Humble Beginnings

Tats was born in Dipolog City in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, but grew up in Lahug, Cebu City.

Upon entering college, he took up a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture at the Cebu State College in Lahug.

He is grateful to his mother and father – a laundry woman and a law graduate, respectively, for sending him to school despite their financial difficulties.

“I am proud because my parents were able to send me to school. They have been my source of inspiration for me to finish college,” he said.

Tats is happily married to his classmate back in college after a nine-year relationship. Their two children are now in college.

 

The Beginning of the First Three Decades

In 1996, Tats joined RAFI as a Project Officer for the Ecosystem Cebu project, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He was first assigned in Liloan, Cebu. After six years, he was regularized in RAFI.

Tats believes that the community development approaches of RAFI are aligned to what he believes in personally — comprehensive and holistic. 

 

On Finding Meaning

In his 27 years with RAFI, Tats ensures that his work would contribute to the growth of the organization.

“In order for RAFI to realize its vision and mission particularly in community development, I make sure I use my knowledge and skills in facilitating community development work,” he added. 

 

Most Memorable Program for Tats

For almost a decade now, the Our Cebu Program (OCP) has been a quite challenging yet memorable for Tats since he has to deal with different local government units (LGUs) and local chief executives.

“The OCP started in 2009, and I found it to be very challenging because you have to interact with different people, different mindsets and perspectives, and different backgrounds from different barrios, cities, municipalities,” he added. 

“Every municipality has its own culture. As Community Development practitioners, we have to know that and adjust. Nonetheless, it is enjoyable because I was able to interact with them and assist in some crucial decisions pertaining to the implementation of the program in the LGU level,” Tats said.

 

In Working at RAFI

For Tats, working in RAFI has helped him develop his skills and personality. Once considered as the ‘quiet guy,’ he now helps in the development of Cebu through different nation-building initiatives led by RAFI in partnership with the LGUs.

“In RAFI, you get to be exposed to lots of community development works. You get to deal with people in various levels, to have the opportunity to speak, and most importantly, to get to listen to their challenges,” he said.

“In this job, you need to build a strong rapport with the community. In order for you to do that, you need to know yourself first — understand your capabilities, your skills, and how you could relay the message correctly and clearly,” Tats said.

Tats added that, “with proper training and facilitating, one is able to help them create a holistic and a better society.”

 

On the Vision of RAFI

For Tats, RAFI is a platform for nation-building working hand-in-hand with the community and other stakeholders.

“I am just an ordinary guy, but I have my own contribution to nation-building, and this is through my job in RAFI,” he said. 

“RAFI has been here for 51 years. The vision and mission of the founders match my own as well. It is great working with people from all walks of life — the less privileged, the influential, the local government units’ officials, and the key decision makers. I learned so many things in the process and used the learning to help more people as well,” he shared. 

 

 

On Why People Stay for Decades in RAFI

One of the facts that RAFI takes pride in is the dedication of its people towards work. Some RAFInians have spent more than a decade of service in the organization, and Tats is one of them – with 27 years and still counting.

When asked why he thinks people stay in RAFI, he gave two reasons: commitment and fulfilment.

“Having stayed with RAFI for many years, I can see the passion in the different teams that are fully committed to the work that they do for the stakeholders they serve. They get a sense of fulfillment doing it. Their sense of purpose is very high,” he shared.

“This is why I have stayed this long, and I hope the youth of today could likewise see the value of the work that they do,”

 

The Cost of Fieldwork

“Fieldwork has its advantages and disadvantages. In the field you get to deal with lots of people, and no doubt the work is inspiring. However, since I travel using different means of transportation like habal-habal, we get exposed to the elements — when it rains or when it’s extremely hot, it’s physically stressful,”  Tats said.

 

On Handling Stress

We asked Tats how he handles stress.

“One thing that I have learned in my almost three decades of community development work is that when you see the value and meaning of your work, stress is just secondary. Yes, you get tired but it’s just your body. Your heart is full,” he said.

“That is why you should learn to relax. For me, it is by giving quality time to my family,” Tats said.

“Also, you have to properly plan your day. Use your time well. That’s your best defense,” he added.

 

Everyday Sacrifices

Tats shared that sometimes, hard work comes at a cost, especially when it concerns his family. 

“In the past so many years, I leave the house early in the morning while my kids are still sleeping, and I arrive late in the evening ,and my kids are already sleeping,”

 

“To make up for this, I ensure that I bond with them during my free time – weekends and holidays. Whenever there’s an opportunity to bond with them, I make the most out of it,” Tats said.

 

Changes He Has Seen

Tats has witnessed the fast-changing environment while doing his work — from using the good old telephones to the smartphones of today.

“When we immersed in the community before, we didn’t have any communication with the ‘outside world.’ If we wanted to call somebody, we had to go through the trouble of looking for a landline. Electricity was also difficult. There were many times when we had to endure a whole week in the community without electricity! Fieldwork is where your patience and character will be tested and I really love the challenge!” Tats said.

 

The Fieldwork Experience

RAFI ensures the safety of its people regardless of where they work — whether field or office.

“We have to be safe at all times, we are not deployed if we are not safe. There is a process in RAFI that ensures this,” Tats said.

In implementing community development programs, Tats shares this.  

“You have to build a good relationship with the community and build strong rapport,”

“Acceptance by the community of your program is a good indicator, and if every plan is in place it would eventually result to successful delivery of service,” Tats shared.

 

On Challenges and Difficulties

Having to deal with different people all the time, Tats has been able to adjust to the different personalities in various levels in the community—from rank and file to high ranking officials. 

“Integrity and reputation are very important factors. In the course of our work, administration is always changing. You have to adjust to their language and culture. What remains constant and never changing is the good reputation of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI),”

“We, as an organization, must bridge the gap between the private sector and the government, and that is what we are doing through the various programs and projects that we have,”

“And as employees, we are the ambassadors of RAFI of our programs,” Tats said.

 

Tats and His Source of Inspiration

When asked this question Tats answered with a simple, ‘Sir Bobby,’

“He was really the inspirational leader that motivated us to contribute to society. He is always present when we needed him. Sir Bobby had that spark and genuine quality about him,” 

“Sir Bobby was different. The way he dealt with people, you could really tell that he was genuine. He truly cared for us and for Cebu,”

“Next would be DBC and the team leaders working in RAFI. They were able to influence me in different ways. Part of our work here is influencing the influencers, and I understand how difficult this is,” he shared. 

Tats is also grateful for the perks of his job. He was given the opportunity to travel to Europe in 2012 when he was assigned as adult leader of the Xplore 2012, a youth exchange program under the Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center.

“Staying in RAFI for all these years helped me enhance my personality,”

 

Message to the New Generation of Community Development Practitioners

“First, you should have the passion for it. You will never enjoy community development work if you are just working for money. You should have that sense of purpose,”

“Also, your goal should be to contribute to nation-building, social development and to influence the government by guiding them in making decisions that will eventually help their constituents,” Tats said.

“As a community development worker, you must have the skills. You need to be practical and innovative — you have to think of new things and concepts, and better ways of doing things,”

“And learn to adjust to the community because improving the community is not an overnight process,”

“For the new generation workers — understand, appreciate and live the life of a worker that would be valued by the people you serve,”

“You have to understand that the main purpose for the organization’s existence is the Founders’ vision. So you have to be connected to it. Your goals need to be aligned with their vision and mission,” 

 

To the People Who Matter 

“To RAFI, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to work and to be part of the success of the organization. Thank you also because through this job, I have been able to provide for my family,”

“But more than that is the opportunity to be able to work with the less privileged, that is the much bigger reason why I stayed,” Tats shared.

“And the people — Sir Bobby and DBC – who have provided me with guidance and source of inspiration, thank you very much,”

“I remember what Sir Bobby once said that encouraged me to be a good worker — ‘Opportunity to work with the community must be treasured.’ — this I will never forget,” 

“You also have to know how the Founders started the organization, and how they helped people. That should be in the DNA of every RAFInian,”

“I truly admire the Aboitiz family. Yes, they are in business, but they have the heart to serve people in need,” Tats shared.

“Learn to appreciate the sacrifices of people around you and value them for their contribution. And with this, I can say that I am truly happy #IAMRAFI!”

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To bring out best practices in local government units (LGU) in Cebu through comprehensive measurement and high-quality standards, the Cebu Provincial Government and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) launched the elevated version of the Our Cebu Program 2.0 last July 30, 2018.

Under the Our Cebu Program 2.0, outstanding LGUs are recognized based on the assessment and indicators provided by the Program. The assessment will now be implemented once a year instead of twice.

During the presentation of the new version of the Program, mentors were also officially presented to the public, which will guide the LGUs on technical coaching that is expected to be beneficial in improving their performance.

From scorecards as assessment tool, the new Our Cebu Program 2.0 uses a set of rubrics, which represents six attributes — green, historical and cultural, inclusiveness & competitiveness, livability, and resiliency & governance.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III announced that bigger cash incentives await winners in the new version, from the previous allocation of P9 million to P28.75 million.

During her speech, Our Cebu Program project manager, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said the Program can ‘help bring out the best in every LGU and achieve our dream of making our Cebu a province truly wholesome and sustainable to live, work, play, invest and do business.’

Senator Cynthia Villar was also present to grace the event. She emphasized the importance of climate change, disaster risk management, and environmental protection, being included among the Six-Key Development Agenda of the province.

The launch of the elevated Our Cebu Program 2.0 coincided with the 449th founding anniversary celebration of the province of Cebu, and the 10th founding anniversary of the Program itself.

The Integrated Area Development Program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-IAD) provides Local Government Units (LGUs) with technical assistance towards socioeconomic development.


The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Department of Science and Technology (Phivolcs-DOST) launched the Metro Cebu Earthquake Model Atlas last July 4, 2018.

The Atlas provides critical information in the seismic design of new buildings and infrastructures, for retrofit of existing buildings, for land-use and urban planning, for earthquake risk reduction assessment, for damage mitigation and for risk reduction.

It provides probabilistic horizontal ground accelerations along with the uncertainties likelihood of occurrence that may be generated by any known seismic sources such as active faults, trenches and area sources in and around Metro Cebu at relevant return periods in adherence to the global platform in seismic hazard and risk assessment.

The Atlas is the second earthquake model atlas formulated by Phivolcs-DOST after Metro Manila’s, in close coordination and consultation with Metro Cebu local government unit, engineering community, academe, urban planners, disaster managers, and insurance industry.

The launching was attended by Usec. Renato U. Solidum, OIC of  Phivolcs-DOST; Engr. Edilberto Paradela, Regional Director of DOST Region 7; Dir. Concepcion Ornopia of OCD 7; Baltazar Tribunalo of the Province of Cebu; Evelyn Nacario-Castro representing the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), and Chris Estallo of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.

Following the launch, Phivolcs-DOST and the MCDCB-Research, Program and Organizational Development will coordinate closely with MCDCB members and partner organizations in developing the Metro Cebu Earthquake Impact Reduction Plan that outlines and specifies action plans, roles per organization, and budget needed. This is in preparation for the foreseeable occurrence of earthquakes or probably the “BIG ONE” in Metro Cebu, as identified by the Metro Cebu Earthquake Model Atlas.

“Cebu needs to prepare and this atlas, if fully utilize by both the public and the private sector, will be a big help in preparation for any earthquake, not just the BIG ONE,” Solidum said.

The Governance and Linkages Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-G&L) seeks to foster responsive institutions and an engaged citizenry through awards and recognition, good governance and leadership development programs, and active linkages and platforms of engagement and collaboration.

Officers and staff of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office 7 underwent a Synergy Program at the Kool Adventure Camp of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI-KAC) Education Center in Cansomoroy, Balamban on July 26 to 27, 2018.

The two-day Synergy Program was attended by 40 NEDA personnel headed by Regional Director Efren Carreon. He was joined by then Assistant Regional Director Dionisio Ledres Jr. and the chiefs from Policy Formulation and Planning, Investment Programming and Budgeting, Project Monitoring and Evaluation, Development Research, and Financial and Admin Support divisions.

The experiential learning activities through Personal Discovery, Ropes Courses, and Low Initiative activities enabled participants to understand the fundamentals of team performance, get to know one another better and provide a common ground that foster teamwork and collaboration in NEDA 7.

Carreon said the mission of the KAC Professional Development Program (PDP) team is aligned and consistent with NEDA’s objectives on building an effective team through experiential learning. Although the PDP program is new to NEDA, the agency believes these life-changing activities are a great experience to the team.

“I really wanted to build a strong, coherent and effective team. It is very important that every member of the organization should be committed, should have conviction, and should understand his/her own role in the attainment of the organization’s goals and objectives. We want to continue and sustain the teamwork that we have been doing and continue to pursue excellent work as a member of the Philippine Bureaucracy,” Carreon said

“We want to have a more balanced way of providing opportunities to staffs to learn and to get insights that they can apply to the organization. The sessions really provided us with the opportunities to interact, share, and give insights. I hope and I am confident that after this activity, we will emerge as a better team,” he added.

The Kool Adventure Camp of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI-KAC) is the first and only fully dedicated Adventure Education Center in the Philippines. RAFI-KAC equips organizations and individuals with the character, competence, and citizenship to be leaders of change through powerful learning experiences.


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IAMRAFI: From Zero to Hero

The Story of Virgilia Bonghanoy,

RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. (RMF) Nanay

By Marco Paulo Trajano Deligero  | August 20, 2018

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Virgilia started with nothing, even to the point of being refused to buy rice on credit from different sari-sari stores because she could not pay on time. That was before she became an RMF Nanay, and with her dedication and focus in her business, she now has five sari-sari/grocery stores, an animal feeds store, and a bakery.

And more important than her business success, she was able to send all her five children to school — who have all graduated from college.

 

Her Humbly Beginning

A native of Cebu, Virgilia’s parents were both farmers.  She admitted that life was difficult, and she used this experience as her motivation to go into business to help her family.

“Nine years ago, in 2007, I made the decision to go into business in the hopes that life wouldn’t be as difficult as it was when I was growing up, even better. I had 5 children to support,” Virgilia said.

 

The Beginning of Their ‘Family Business’

Virgilia had her first loan cycle at RAFI Micro-finance, Inc., (RMF) with only five thousand pesos, which she used to start her small sari-sari store.

She diligently attend seminars at the RMF branch where she learned how to properly handle the money she loaned.

The first cycle was a success, so she continued to invest more into the business. She loaned P15,000 in her second cycle.

“The business was getting bigger, and expanding it was both a huge risk and responsibility. I made sure the money was used wisely,” Virgilia said.

 

It Takes a Whole Family to Run a Bakery Business

With her following loan cycles, she used the money to set-up a bakery from scratch — from baking to selling.

She remembers how their whole family would take turns baking and selling the baked goodies on foot. 

“We would roam the streets of different barangays to sell fresh bread from our bakery. We also sold bread using habal-habal in the hard to reach areas,”

The bakery was a success, earning up to 50 percent of her baking operations cost.

 

On Expanding Their Family Baking Business

The success of their bakery, particularly among the masses, encouraged Virgilia to expand it even further. Her third loan cycle amounted to Php 50,000.00, which she used to buy new equipment, citing their importance.

“During our first month of operations, we would bake bread ‘manu-mano,’ using bare hands. It was so tiring and time consuming, so we decided to buy a roller and a huge oven suitable for bigger bread production,”

“As a family, we took turns in baking and delivering goods. We helped each other expand the business and made a huge market success,” Virgilia proudly shared.

 

When Business Expansion is Life

Starting in 2007 with just a small sari-sari store, Virgilia’s business grew. With sheer determination, dedication and family cooperation, she now has five grocery stores, one bakery and an animal feeds store.  

“We rented several places for our business expansion. I know it was a huge risk but we worked hard as a family, I guess that’s the main ingredient of our success,”

 

Sharing Some Business Tips

Virgilia is happy to share some tips to aspiring RMF Nanays, particularly in the bakery business, which she summarizes into these three: add, observe, and train.

“First, you have to add items to your menu; you have to make them interesting and delicious so that they would appeal to your customers,”

“Second, you have to observe what product your customers want — what kind of bread gets sold out fast, and what is always left on the shelves. You should know the movement of your goods because this will definitely help you improve your bakery,”

“Third, you need to get training, and train your people — your bakers, to ensure quality in your finished products and consistency of taste — same amount of ingredients, the way it was baked, etc.,”

“Why? Because your customers will know if something was changed in the bread they keep coming back for, they will know the difference in the taste. The baked goods should be consistent in taste and quality, because that is what the customers are looking for,” Virgilia added.

 

Life’s Challenges

It was not always happy days for Virgilia. There was a time when three (3) of her children got dengue at the same time.

“That was really shocking for our family, my three children got dengue fever, and it was a totally stressful situation for us all,”

With a handful of business to run, the added challenge of taking care of her children was difficult.

“I had to go back and forth from the hospital to the family businesses because at that time we didn’t have a lot of help with overseeing and running the sari-sari stores, it was just me and my husband. Thank God after several weeks of being hospitalized, they survived dengue and were discharged,” Virgilia said.

 

With Great Diligence Comes Great Reward

Virgilia and her family now enjoy the rewards and fruits of their labor.

According to her, they were able to invest in several properties, which includes a house, a lot, and several vehicles — a car, two multi-cabs, a tamaraw FX, an elf and two motorcycles.

Their family is also looking forward to expanding to an even bigger business venture: their very own gasoline station.

 

Advice to Aspiring RMF Nanay

Virgilia’s advice is simple: to take the risk and give your 100 percent.

“If you want to succeed in the business you want, you have to have a good capital and use that to start your own,”

“Combined with hard work, dedication, and good marketing strategy, your business will definitely expand and your business will be a huge success,”

“Also, separate the budget for the family and for your business, never mix them up,” She added.

 

On How She Wants To Be Remembered

With currently around fifteen people working for her, Virgilia said that she wants to be remembered as a good boss, someone who is concerned for their growth, for her people’s growth.

“I don’t reprimand my staff without reason, I consider them as my own children, and they know that,”

“I make sure to inform them when they did something wrong so they could correct it immediately,”

“Having a huge number of staff is not easy but as long as they are doing their jobs well, then it’s all good. I always tell our staff ‘tarunga inyong trabaho’ (do good in your job),”

 

Virgilia and Her Greatest Life Lessons

Admittedly, Virgilia said that life was hard for her at the start, recalling the days when she was refused credit by some stores.   

“Life was difficult for me, but I learned that it’s what you make out of your life that makes you a better person,”

“Before, we were struggling. But now, because of perseverance, my family was able to have a comfortable life. In that aspect I think I became a successful mother,”

“Also, make sure you have enough savings for emergency situations, that is really important,” Virgilia said.

 

On Her Life Motivation and People That Matters

As an RMF Nanay, Virgilia takes pride in saying that her family is her motivation. In her fear of not being able to feed her children, she turned this fear around and persevered to make a good life for them with the help of RAFI Micro-finance, Inc.

Virgilia gives thanks to her family, her husband and children, for being supportive in their making their business grow.

“To my husband and children, I love you very much. You have been a great motivation to me, to push me farther to reach the financial stability that we have today,”

“Stability in the sense that we are able to provide for our daily needs and live a comfortable life,” she said.

She also thanks RAFI Micro-finance, Inc.

“In 2011 and 2016 I was nominated as RMF’s Most Outstanding Client, which alone is already a blessing, thank you RMF,” 

“Thank you very much to God, my family, my five children, and to RMF, daghang salamat!” #IAMRAFI

 

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“Combined with hard work, dedication, and good marketing strategy, your business will definitely expand and your business will be a huge success.”

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IAMRAFI: Of Dreaming Big

The Story of Chrisley Ann Cinco Hinayas,

Development Communication Specialist

By Marco Paulo Trajano Deligero  | August 14, 2018

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Being with RAFI for the past six years, Chrisley considers her job as an opportunity to fulfill her passion. Discover how, on her 21st birthday, her life was changed — forever.

 

The Young Lady From Mandaue City

Born and raised in Mandaue City, Chrisley joined Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) in June of 2012, as her first employer, bringing her idealism and passion for development work.

Having Kara David and Howie Severino as her idols in documentaries since high school, Chrisley said that with RAFI she has been able to explore her interests in documenting social issues by retelling the stories of the organization’s partners and stakeholders.

“With the opportunity given to me before as a Communications Writer, I was able to make use of my interests in writing and conceptualizing documentaries. It provided me an avenue to tackle varied social and developmental issues. It has always been one of my passions ever since,” She shared.

She also revealed that she is not fond of using the word ‘beneficiaries’ to refer to the people the organization has helped. 

“I believe that the people RAFI has reached out to are partners because they are co-owners and co-implementers of the projects that the foundation initiates,” Chrisley added.

 

More Than a Job, More of a Mission

As her graduation was fast approaching in 2012, Chrisley’s professor told her that there was an opening in RAFI for a Communications Writer. She applied, and got the position. She was only 19 then.

“Through my job back then, I am blessed to meet different people from all walks of life — educators, environment advocates, students, youth leaders, and even former Moro National Liberation Front combatants, among others. It’s amazing to hear their stories which also become inspirations to others as well,” 

More than just writing the stories, she considers her published work — both in print and online media — as ‘perks’ of the job since writing is also one of her personal interests. 

For two years now, Chrisley has been focusing on Development Communication (DevComm) initiatives under the Reputation Management of RAFI. DevComm strategies, for her, is very instrumental especially in the development work of RAFI.

“There’s a lot to do when it comes to shifting our perspective from the traditional communication to Development Communication. There is a pressing need for a paradigm shift,” she added.  

 

‘Physically and Emotionally Drained’

Super Typhoon Haiyan or Typhoon Yolanda made a huge impact in her life. A few weeks after the typhoon’s onslaught, she, together with other two RAFInians, were deployed to Samar and Leyte to document for RAFIEye, the official newsletter created solely for that disaster response.

“It was really physically and emotionally draining. I saw utter devastation. I never expected that the effect of Yolanda was like a war zone where bombs were dropped from the sky. It was a catastrophic scene from a movie,” Chrisley recalled.

She also mentioned a time when she was assigned to write a story about a school building turnover at the mountain barangay of Babag in the town of Asturias wherein she heard about the plights of the students in going to school. 

“The students needed to wade the knee-deep river just to go to the nearest school. I felt the genuine happiness and excitement of the school staff, students, and even the parents when they heard about the rehabilitated classrooms,” she said. 

She added that there are a lot of these undocumented stories of hardships and simple life joys from the communities that need to be told, not just in RAFI but to a larger audience as well. 

“They were very grateful for the gift of a new classroom. For us to know these stories from the ground, we need to provide them with a platform to share these stories,” she said.

 

More Than Just Writing

For Chrisley, being with RAFI gives her a new perspective in life.

“I’ve been very blessed to be given such privilege to be a storyteller of these people. It made me reflect on the different facets of life outside the office. There are so many inspiring people out there in the field. One just needs to go out,” she added.

For her, RAFI is one of the avenues wherein she has met people with different interests yet tell extraordinary stories. She was inspired to meet kind, humble, and genuine people, especially those living in coastal and mountain barangays. 

“It is a privilege to tell and share their stories. Not all people in RAFI have that opportunity,”

“These are people who are passionate about making a difference. They may be ordinary people to many yet they are doing extraordinary things in their communities. The rawness of the stories from the ground make their lives so inspiring to share. My role is to justify their wonderful works in a creative way, and that is by writing,” Chrisley added.

 

‘Adopt-a-Dreamer Project’

It was in April of 2013, in planning for her 21st birthday, that her life took on a new direction.   

“I wanted to spend my birthday in a different way. I invited my college classmates, and friends to celebrate it with me together with the children of Kandingan Elementary School, a far-flung barangay in the Southern town of Aloguinsan,” she recalled.

She fondly narrated how from a simple call for donations for toys and school supplies on Facebook paved way to collect more than what she prayed for. They collected a total of 150 sets of educational materials and hygiene kits for the kids. On June 8, 2013, the group of friends went to the school and did Chrisley’s pre-birthday celebration. 

“At first, we just called the initiative as ‘adopt-a-dreamer project’ because we were just planning to really sponsor school supplies in the coming years. But, God had a bigger plan for us,” she added.

 

The Beginning of ‘The Dream Big Project’

As fate would have it, something bigger happened.

In 2015, during the foundation’s general assembly, Mr. Jon Ramon Aboitiz (JRA) was invited to talk about leadership. His talk, for Chrisley, re-affirmed her lifelong mission in life — to never stop dreaming big and to pursue her passion for DevComm. 

“There was a part of his talk that kept on re-echoing. JRA said: Dream big. Dream big. Never stop learning and growing! Always dream about what you want to do. Challenge the norm. Be the best that you can be!” She shared. 

“That line struck me the most, and I will never ever forget that! On that day, my passion to serve brightened even more. I decided to call our volunteer group ‘The Dream Big Project’ because after all, we are all dreamers,”

“From that talk, I learned the value of authentic leaders. JRA said that leaders do not only inspire others with their charisma, but also empower people to lead. His speech inspired me that I, too, could be a leader. I just have to start somewhere and dream big,” she said.

 

On The Dream Big Project and AFP Partnership

Chrisley also shared that aside from the volunteers, she owes the successes of The Dream Big Project and its initiatives to a strong partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Central Command.

“So far, we have already reached more than 20 far-flung schools with over four thousand students here in Cebu. We have crossed rivers, trekked mountains, and even journeyed to almost impassable roads. We owe those blessings to our volunteers, co-advocates, partners, and the AFP,” she shared.

Aside from giving school supplies, they also conduct sessions on peace and development, environmental education, hygiene and sanitation, and arts, among others.

 

Lessons Learned In Life

Chrisley shares her guiding principle.

“I may not be the best in my chosen field, but it doesn’t mean that I cannot do something.  This is one of my guiding principles in battling life’s ups and downs. Whenever I feel undervalued or unappreciated, I go back to the memories of the extraordinary people I have met. They may have simple lives yet they are doing extra miles for others. That for me is a very fulfilling life to live,” she said.

She also shared that on work ethics, it is important to feel the sense of purpose in your job and how it could contribute to the bigger vision and mission of the organization. This way, one would not be lose track on why we are here in RAFI.

“You should always keep in mind that you are doing your job not just because you are being paid to do it, but also because you love it and your work has a purpose. It is also a way of giving back to the community,” she said.

 

On Being a RAFInian

For Chrisley, being a RAFInian means living by the values you learned even outside the walls of RAFI.

“For me, it’s simple: do not stop being a RAFInian even when you are outside the office. You should extend the values you learned from the organization in making your own little or big footprints outside. You don’t need to tag along your position or rank. Just have a genuine heart that wants to make a difference in someone else’s life,” she said.

 

People Who Matter

“I thank God for giving me the heart to always see the goodness in people and for giving me ‘gifts’ that I can use to extend help to other people,”

“To my family who often sees my shadow lingers on the walls of our home. They are very supportive in whatever I dream for in life,”

“To my The Dream Big Project family, who always brings out the best in me, thank you. I find my strength and grow my passion with them,”

“To the Armed Forces of the Philippines, thank you for always believing in the cause of our advocacy for the past years, for making me part of a bigger family of peace advocates,”

“To my friends and to the people I have met and interviewed, thank you for the inspiration all these years,”

“And to my RAFI Reputation Management teammates who believe in my potentials, thank you very much.” #IAMRAFI

 

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“These are people who are passionate about making a difference. They may be ordinary people to many yet they are doing extraordinary things in their communities. The rawness of the stories from the ground make their lives so inspiring to share. My role is to justify their wonderful works in a creative way, and that is by writing.”

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In support of ongoing efforts to promote wellness, the Governance and Linkages Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-G&L) recently hosted the Understanding Choices Forum: Mainstreaming Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace and in the Community.

The University of San Carlos (USC) and the Wellbeing Cluster of Visayas partnered with RAFI for this activity, which was held last July 31, 2018 at the Buttenbruch Hall of the University of San Carlos.

Attended by around 270 participants representing academic institutions, the humanitarian sector, and the industries and business sector of Cebu, the forum highlighted the need to increase awareness on mental health to erase the stigma on mental health disorders and their sufferers.

Gibby Gorres, communications officer of the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros, led discussions on the recently signed Republic Act 11036 also known as the Philippine Mental Health Act. He explained that the law seeks to protect the rights of persons with mental health needs, integrate mental health service delivery in the general health delivery system, and promote mental well-being in schools, barangays and workplace.

The second speaker, Michael Godinez, RAFI AVP for Human Resources and current president of PMAP Cebu, a long time HR practitioner and a clinical psychologist, shared his experiences and challenges in mainstreaming mental health in the workplace. He echoed the need for increased awareness among both management and workers to ensure that the stigma on mental health illness is corrected.

The forum served as the kickoff activity for two research presentations from USC Psychology students related to the mental health and wellbeing of first responders, and to the four breakout sessions that mainstreamed wellbeing and resiliency concepts to the youth, business and the humanitarian aid sectors, respectively. It highlighted the second day of the two-day celebration of the launching of the Wellbeing Cluster.

The Wellbeing Cluster consists of non-government organizations, academe, government agencies, local government units, media, faith-based organizations, private sectors, and other sectoral groups based in the Visayas seeking to promote and mainstream psychosocial and mental health programs towards wellness and resiliency in the workplace.

The Governance and Linkages Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-G&L) seeks to foster responsive institutions and an engaged citizenry through awards and recognition, good governance and leadership development programs, and active linkages and platforms of engagement and collaboration.

Before the nice pictures and fanfare that accompanied the recent ceremonial turnovers of new school buildings and classrooms in Santa Fe, Bantayan, the abridged back stories of these infrastructure projects — stories similarly shared in about 80 other school sites all around Cebu, often overshadowed by the ribbon cuttings and marker unveilings — have to be told.

A year before the turnover, groundwork already starts for a particular school project site. A project cycle (starting after the annual budget is approved) from site identification to the final inspection and acceptance of the finished building takes about 260 working days.

Project engineers and program officers then engage project stakeholders — school heads are asked to submit data, the local government unit (LGU) commits to its counterpart fund, school community participates in school governance, school communities are trained in materials inventory and project monitoring, and at least 400 native trees are planted for every new classroom built. Project engineers, who are managing other project sites at the same time, then monitor/follow-up materials deliveries and the work of third-party contractors or LGU manpower by regularly visiting and inspecting project sites. And, of course, the tons of paperwork.

Fast forward to the handover of five new school buildings in four schools in Santa Fe, Bantayan last July 18, 2018.

Senior Project Engineer Ricky Morillo and I left Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) at 3:30 a.m. for Hagnaya, San Remigio (110 kilometers away from the city). Program Officer Abigail Basas was doing a Seal of Excellence in Education Development (SEED) orientation and could not join us. Along the way, we picked up RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. (RMF) North Area Manager Edward Butal in Catmon. It was an opportunity for Edward to link up with potential clients in Santa Fe’s school communities.

We arrived at Hagnaya Port with a few minutes to spare for a quick breakfast of tinuwang isda before getting on the 6:30 a.m. ferry for the 1½-hour ride to Santa Fe, Bantayan. Straight from the Santa Fe port, we were in Balidbid Elementary School before 8:30 a.m. for the ribbon cutting, marker unveiling and photo ops. The same rites were they conducted in Marikaban Integrated School, Pooc Elementary School, and Santa Fe Central School where a program and lunch was hosted by all four schools.

In their speeches, officials from the Department of Education and Santa Fe Mayor Jose Esgana were appreciative of the new school buildings/classrooms from RAFI. We were also invited to speak to various stakeholders and we took the opportunity (a standard in all handovers) to report on their project participation ratings from the RAFI-Internal Audit team. Likewise, stakeholders were encouraged to actively participate and improve on the SEED program. The consolidated scores of schools on SRP project participation and SEED participation and improvement, amongst others, are factors in determining the priority of school divisions/districts in the RAFI School Rehabilitation Program (SRP).

After a quick lunch, Ricky and I got on the 1:30 p.m. ferry to Hagnaya and were finally back in RAFI at 6:30 p.m.

It was a very long day to culminate a story that actually started more than a year ago. Several similar ones are ongoing while the beginning of more stories are already being conceived.

 

Quick facts:

School

Type of Buildings Replaced

New Buildings Built

Balidbid Elementary School

1999 DECS

2-storeys, 3 classrooms (ground floor)
open hall @ 2F ready for future 3-classrooms

Marikaban Integrated School

1986 Bagong Lipunan

1997 Demountable

2-storeys, 6-classrooms

2-storeys, 3-classrooms @ GF, open-hall @ 2F ready for future 3-classrooms

Pooc Elementary School

1995 Demountable

2-storeys, 6-classrooms

Sta Fe Central School

1966 Magsaysay

2-storeys, 3-classrooms @ GF, open-hall @ 2F ready for future 3-classrooms

Total cost of 5 buildings

P32.9M        

Current equivalent classrooms

27

Average cost per classroom

P1.22M

LGU counterpart

7.3%

No. of trees planted by school communities

17,815

Senior Project Engineer

Ricky Morillo

Program Officer

Abigail Basas


The Education Development Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI-EDU) helps in the formation of effective learning environments by providing high-quality, cost-effective school infrastructure and by capacitating school communities for the continuous improvement of learning outcomes.

Local government units may be familiar with creating a vision but achieving this proves to be much more difficult. For eight local government units (LGUs) under the seventh congressional district of Cebu, coming together and determining an appropriate strategy to achieve a shared vision for the district was a first.

The local chief executives and focal teams of the eight LGUs, along with the district’s Provincial Board Members and Rep. Peter Calderon, set their minds to the challenge of achieving a district-wide vision and strategy last June 5 to 7, 2018 at the Montebello Villa Hotel.

Members of the Integrated Area Development Program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-IAD) and representatives from various Cebu Provincial Government departments helped facilitate and serve as resource persons.

Gov. Hilario P. Davide III opened the first day of the workshop, encouraging participants to continue to develop the localities’ main industries and to understand their shortcomings and weaknesses in order to open new opportunities for constituents. Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, also the chairperson of the Cebu Tourism Council, welcomed the participants on the second day.

Agriculture and tourism have been identified in previous workshops as the district’s economic drivers. The LGUs compiled relevant data about these sectors to analyze and decide on future developments.

During the workshop, the agreed on this unified vision — for the seventh district to become the center sustainable tourism destination by 2028 through focusing on the development of ecotourism sites in the short-term (one to three years), adventure-based tourism sites in the medium-term (three to five years), and agritourism sites in the long-term (five to 10 years).

With the vision and strategy initially formulated and agreed on, the group formed a technical working group (TWG) to further detail the strategy. For two months, the TWG will work on identifying the District’s current gaps and formulating potential strategic initiatives to push development closer to its vision.

The group also identified the need to cascade the vision to the rest of the municipal employees and tourism frontliners to gain their buy-in and create a brand to unify the district behind the vision.

Finally, the groups decided to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) by September 18, the third anniversary of the district’s creation, to formalize inter-local cooperation between the eight LGUs, the district’s two Provincial Board Members, and Calderon.

The seventh congressional district of Cebu includes the LGUs of Alcantara, Alegria, Badian, Dumanjug, Ginatilan, Malabuyoc, Moalboal, and Ronda.

The Integrated Area Development Program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-IAD) provides Local Government Units (LGUs) with technical assistance towards socio-economic development.