To equip RAFInians with the knowledge on precautionary measures and safeguarding lives and assets, the Risk Management Team of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. in partnership with Facilities and Maintenance conducted its annual emergency evacuation drill last December 5, 2018, held at the Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center in Cebu.

At 3 p.m., RAFInians successfully evacuated the premises having a total of 142 evacuees.

After the fire drill, fire marshals also demonstrated the proper handling of a fire extinguisher.

A fire safety and evacuation drill is one of the practices for safety measures that RAFI holds annually, headed by the Risk Management team and in partnership with the local Bureau of Fire Protection.

No rain can stop the interpretation of faith in a dance.

Last January 21, 2019, the Casa Gorordo Museum held the Sinug, one of its house traditions despite moderate to heavy rains.

“We do this every year not only to uphold one of the Gorordo family’s long traditions but also as a way to show our devotion to the Holy Child, Sto. Niño,” Florencio Moreno, curator of the Casa Gorordo Museum, said of the dance.

Unlike the more festive Sinulog dance, the Sinug is a much simpler dance. For one, the Sinug does not have a reina or a queen, and the image of the Sto. Niño is not held. Instead, the image is placed in an altar at the front.

“The Sto. Niño becomes the focus in this dance,” says Richelieu Colina, leader of the Turang Dance group.

The Turang Dance Group has performed the Sinug since the time of the Gorordos. Back then, the group was led by Estelita ‘Nang Titang’ Diola, until she passed away last 2013. Now, Richelieu, simply known as ‘Richoy’ by friends and family, lead the troupe. 

“Nang Titang taught me a lot of things when I was a child. She even taught me how to play the drums for the Sinug. Leading this group would not have been possible if it weren’t for Nang Titang teaching me everything I needed to know. She treated me like I was one of her own, and I am always thankful for that,” says Richoy.

The dance starts with an alabacion, where the lead performer chants a prayer in Latin in front of the image of the Holy Child.

After the alabacion, halad or the offering is done, where one of the performers recites names of sick people or loved ones who have departed. An offering of prayer can also be made to people for good health and other intentions. While the names are being called out one by one, the dance is performed.

“The Sinug has many parts. It also includes the Sagalas Compañeros, which is a form of thanksgiving song; the balitok, a form of entertainment offered to the Holy Child; a celebratory song; and of course the traditional Moro-moro, or a dance portraying traditional combat between a Moro and a Christian. The dance finally ends with a panamilit,” adds Richoy.

One of the outstanding features for this year’s Sinug is the heavy use of costumes, which Richoy said he has sewn himself.

“The Sinug is first and foremost a prayer. To show our devotion, we must also show our effort. Before the actual dance, my devotion already starts in the costumes that I make for the 100 or so dancers,” said Richoy.

“Dancers wear costumes that depict Christian and Moro looks. Though traditionally, it was the males as Christians and females as Moros,” adds Richoy.

The dancers are all volunteers from Barangay Mabolo. They usually range from ages 7-60 years old.

On having young kids as performers Richoy says, “I don’t just teach them the dance. I teach them the meaning behind every step, every song. These have to be embedded in them at a young age so they will understand that this dance, this prayer, is a part of their identity.”

The Culture & Heritage Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI-CHU) through its three flagship programs — Casa Gorordo Museum, Research & Publications, and Gabii sa Kabilin — aims to develop a strong sense of cultural identity among local communities by promoting awareness of their heritage and enabling them to articulate their story.

The Risk Management Team of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. holds an orientation on data privacy aligned with the newly implemented RA 10173 or the Data Privacy Act, at the RAFI Plenary Hall last December 3 and 6, 2018.

At a glance, the Data Privacy Act of 2012 protects individuals from unauthorized processing of personal information that is (1) private, not publicly available; and (2) identifiable, where the identity of the individual is apparent, either through direct attribution or when put together with other available information.

Attended by several RAFInians, the orientation serves as an awareness raising on data privacy and the importance of data security.

The Kool Adventure Camp of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI-KAC) welcomes 2019 with its first batch of campers from the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) Central Visayas campus and senior high school students of the Sisters of Mary Schools Boystown (SMS Boystown).

Campers from PSHS underwent the iQuest Intensive Program, while the SMS Boystown with their iChoose Program, these are just two of the seven iSeries Programs that RAFI-KAC offers to the youth.

The iQuest Intensive program intensifies the skills of the young leaders to make a difference in their schools or communities and aims to increase their self-awareness and social responsiveness.

Nonetheless, this program will also help them discover the value of working with others in achieving a goal and develop their social responsibility for their school or community.

While the iChoose Program, that is an outdoor expedition, envisions the youth to introspect a positive path linked to concrete opportunities and guide them in making choices for their future.

The RAFI-KAC launched the iSeries last October 2018 to the 56 Sangguniang Kabataan officials and youth of the City of Bogo with the iServe Program.

Alongside the iQuest Intensive and iChoose are iQuest, iServe, iSpark, iVenture and iRipple. 

Other iSeries will be launched this year to the various sectors of the youth in education and governance.

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.

At least 11 local government units from all over the Province of Cebu shared their best practices in development during the DevTalks 2018; the annual partners’ conference of the Our Cebu Program, where different best practices in the areas of livability, green, resiliency, inclusiveness and competitiveness, governance, and culture and heritage were featured during the event.

The DevTalks Forum, which had its third annual run, is a convergence of development practitioners from both the local government units and civil society sector.

In 2018, the forum primarily promotes sharing of best practices among local government units in the utilization of the OCP scorecard through video documentation and highlights the journey of the Our Cebu Program which will celebrate its 10th year anniversary in 2019.

Listed below are the municipalities with their corresponding attributes.

For the attribute of livability:

• Municipality of Alegria — organic farming

• Municipality of Barili — community-based health programs

• Municipality of Dalaguete — municipality-based poverty reduction program

• Municipality of Tudela — organic pig farming and meat butchering practices

For the attribute of inclusiveness and competitiveness:

• City of Bogo — participatory micro-business models

• Municipality of Pinamungajan — community-based sustainable tourism models

For the attribute of green:

• Municipality of Tuburan — coffee-growing program which provides an alternative livelihood for former charcoal-making farmers

For the attribute of governance:

• Municipality of Poro — participatory governance and their purok system

For the attribute of resiliency:

• Municipality of Medellin — appointing DRR focal persons within each barangay

• Municipality of San Fernando — practice on capacitating elementary and high school students to be disaster-prepared

For the attribute of culture and heritage:

• Municipality of Argao — forming a municipal culture and heritage commission to preserve their traditions and historical buildings; partnering with the academe to help the tradition of hablon-weaving thrive

Representatives from each of the featured local government units served as panelists, including department heads from the Province of Cebu to further discuss in depth the accomplishments of each of the LGU and the challenges they have encountered during project implementation.

Audience members were able to join the conversation and ask questions through the use of social media.

The Devtalks 2018 Forum culminated with the Province of Cebu’s awarding ceremony for the Our Cebu Program which recognized the performance of local government units in relation to the Our Cebu scorecard.

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

As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. (RMF) held its first leg of the Entrepreneurs’ Summit last November 10, 2018, at the Grand Convention Center Cebu with the theme “Empowering MSMEs towards Nation Building.”

The Summit brought together a total of 320 RMF client-entrepreneurs, guests and partners across Bohol, Cebu and Leyte provinces in order for them to be inspired by success stories of other social entrepreneurs, learn more about entrepreneurship and build networks with other entrepreneurs and possible business partners.

Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV graced the one-day Summit as its Keynote Speaker. During his speech, Senator Bam expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the micro-finance institutions such as RMF who provided access to financial services for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. As someone who has championed the MFI-NGO Act, Sen. Bam emphasized the importance of micro-entrepreneurs and their contribution to the progress of the country’s economy. He ended his speech by congratulating the RMF clients who were able to elevate their businesses through RMF’s programs.   

The Summit highlights the motivational talks from entrepreneurs and government agencies, which tackled the different success stories of social entrepreneur Cherrie Atillano, CEO & Founder of AgreaPH and Cebu-based businessman Rey Calooy, Founder and President of RNC Marketing.

The participants were also able to learn the legal path of building and improving their business by tapping different available government services. Ella Adolfo of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) talked on the process on how to get the business name; while Jocelyn Cabahug of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Region 7 shared TESDA’s Coke Star Program.

For Jonar Dorado, RMF Strategy Management Officer, the goal of the summit is to create an avenue for entrepreneurs to learn — the business trends, innovative operating models and technological advancements, and to be inspired from the stories of other successful entrepreneurs, and to network building with other entrepreneurs, mentors and partners.

“The Entrepreneurs Summit is one of the largest activities organized by RMF. Gathering the entrepreneurs, business mentors, private and government agencies in bolstering the growth of MSMEs,” Dorado said.

Since 2016, RMF’s mission of empowering its clients and elevate the lives of their member’s families have been expanding rapidly in the whole of the Visayan region. It is now serving more than 255,000 clients and operating in the areas of Biliran, Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Samar, Siquijor, and Southern Leyte.

“We are holding the activity in Cebu as the strategic location in the Visayas, but as RMF expands to other regions, we will also conduct similar activity to other provinces in Luzon and Mindanao as part of RMF’s commitment to elevate the lives by providing stable and rewarding livelihood to the families,” Dorado added. 

The major highlight of the event was the awarding of the first Mauswagon Entrepreneur Awards in Small business and Micro-business category. There were about 63 nominations received, which were then shortlisted to three finalists per category. 

Claudia Celis, an RMF client for 14 years, was awarded as the first Mauswagon Entrepreneur Award for Micro-business category while Maria Medequillo won the Mauswagon Entrepreneur Award for Small business category.

Both RMF clients have shown courage and determination to improve their businesses in the hopes of helping other people in their communities. They were both awarded a cash prize worth Php 50,000, a portrait, and plaque and a training package while the top 2 runners-up received a cash prize and a certificate.

The program was concluded with the launching of the RMF@20 celebration by RMF Director for Operations Ailyne May Lim. As a key takeaway for the attendees, Lim emphasized on the RMF’s fervent desire to see its client-entrepreneurs prosper and thereby create a ripple effect of that prosperity to their respective families and communities. 

The Entrepreneurs Summit is a kick-off to the several upcoming activities that the RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. has in store for its clients in celebration of its 20 years of elevating lives of micro-entrepreneurs and their families.

RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. (RMF) celebrates its 20 years of elevating the lives of Micro-entrepreneurs. RMF is a program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) that provides the vulnerable and disadvantaged with comprehensive financial services that enable them to have a stable and rewarding means of livelihood to elevate their quality of life.

Coming from a family of skillful patisseries, Josephine De Lara has transformed her hobby into a business. However, this was not an overnight decision that she has made. Before she took the leap of faith to become a full-time businesswoman, Josephine was once an office employee of a private sales company.

Back then, she would make a few boxes of puto cheese and torta to sell to her officemates. They were enamored by the unique taste of her delicacies and started to refer her business to their respective acquaintances which then increased the demand for her homemade goods. 

Everything used to be manageable for her; however, as her customer base increased, the demand for her time in baking has also inevitably increased. Because of this, she made the choice in 2012 to go full-time with her hobby and make a business out of it. 

This decision was also supported by her husband who co-managed the business with her. They both attended culinary arts training in order to gain additional skills and knowledge in baking and pastry making. This enabled the workload for her to be lesser as she can also rely on her husband in the preparation of their cakes and other pastries. 

Alongside improving her skills, Josephine and her husband took the extra mile to market their businesses when they do transactions with the banks and other private companies. Her business which used to be only known to a good number of individuals has now become a supplier of several other business and companies; one of which includes the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI). 

She, later on, learn about the RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. (RMF) while waiting at the office’s lobby where she chanced upon reading RMF’s leaflet. From thereon, she joined RMF and has since become one of its loyal clients. Through her loans in RMF, she was able to purchase additional equipment for the business in order to cater to the increasing volume and demand for her products.

Although business has been growing exponentially, life as we know it has its own way of challenging a person’s resilience. This has been the case in Josephine’s life when she was diagnosed with myoma in 2017. She was hospitalized in December – a peak season for the business. This has challenged her family as she is also the prime person who does the baking. Nevertheless, she was fortunate to have a family of bakers who later on helped the family during this trying time. “Business as usual” — as she is quoted saying.

When asked on the secret to her success, Josephine would humbly share that it is all due to her faith in God, and the patience in doing business. Apart from which, she said that having the credibility and integrity is very crucial in maintaining good customer relations. 

Now, Josephine’s only daughter has already finished college and is employed in one of the leading food production firms in the country. She is also slowly training her daughter in managing the business. She is also able to employ more people in the business — with four on-call staff and six part-time workers, most of which are students. During peak seasons, she is able to employ about 20 people to be of aid to the business. 

With the increasing demand for her products, Josephine has now put up a branch in Carcar, which is managed by her sister where customers could make their orders. She also plans to take yet another leap of faith by venturing into café business which would allow her to display her products for another market segment. 

Josephine’s life is an inspiration to individuals who have the hesitation to turn their hobby into a source of income. There is always a big and grand world out there — full of possibilities. And sometimes, just like Josephine, taking that one leap of faith is just all it takes for the achievement of one’s lifelong dream.

RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. (RMF) celebrates its 20 years of elevating the lives of Micro-entrepreneurs. RMF is a program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) that provides the vulnerable and disadvantaged with comprehensive financial services that enable them to have a stable and rewarding means of livelihood to elevate their quality of life.