New Latrines for 4,000 school children in Iligan Central Elementary School


Iligan Central Elementary School

Iligan Central Elementary School in Iligan City, Philippines

Rotarians from Rotary Club Chicago Far North donated dictionaries to Iligan Central Elementary School in 2012

Rotarians from Rotary Club Chicago Far North donated dictionaries to Iligan Central Elementary School in 2012

In 2012, Rotarians from the Rotary Club Chicago Far North visited the Iligan Central Elementary School and donated English dictionaries to the school teachers. The Rotarians from Chicago also saw that the school did not have functioning toilets for the students and teachers at that time.

Open sewer of non-functioning latrines at Iligan Central Elementary School in 2012

Open sewer of non-functioning latrines at Iligan Central Elementary School in 2012

Rotarians from Rotary Chicago Far North visiting non-functioining latrines at Rotary Club Chicago Far North in 2012

Rotarians from Rotary Chicago Far North visiting nonfunctioning latrines at Rotary Club Chicago Far North in 2012

The Bayanihan Foundation partnered with the Rotary Club Chicago Far North and the Rotary Club Iligan East to make sure that the 4,000 school children in Iligan Central Elementary School would have functioning and sanitary toilets to use. In 2014, I visited the Iligan Central Elementary School to inaugurate the newly built latrines for the school.

Rotary Chicago Far North donated funds to install two functioning latrines for Iligan Central Elementary School in 2014

Rotary Chicago Far North donated funds to install two functioning latrines for Iligan Central Elementary School in 2014

(standing left) Dale Asis inspecting new wash basins with running water, with Principal Vivian Santiago and teacher Ms. Gutierrez looking on

(standing left) Dale Asis inspecting new wash basins with running water, with Principal Vivian Santiago and teacher Ms. Gutierrez looking on

In August 2014, I helped inaugurate two new latrines at the Iligan Central Elementary School that will provide clean water and washroom facilities for 4,000 school children.

School children of Iligan Central Elementary School made posters and signs showing their gratitude for the new latrines

School children of Iligan Central Elementary School made posters and signs showing their gratitude for the new latrines

These new latrines would not have been possible without the help of my uncle, Dr. Vicente Saavedra and my aunt, Luz Saavedra who helped supervised daily the construction of the latrines. The latrines were also made in partnership with the Rotary Club Iligan East.

Members of Rotary Iligan East and Dr. Vicente and Ms. Luz Saavedra (standing far right)

Members of Rotary Iligan East and Dr. Vicente and Ms. Luz Saavedra (standing far right)

Students from Iligan Central Elementary School

Students from Iligan Central Elementary School

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Health, Philippines, Poverty | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Filipinos Abroad Helping Filipinos at Home: Donating Used Laptop Computers to Typhoon Ravaged Giporlos, Samar


(The following entry is written as the first of four entries about my recent trip to the Philippines and the Bayanihan Foundation’s efforts to help in the long-term sustainability efforts in the Philippines after the devastating typhoon Haiyan hit the islands last November 2013)

On August 18, 2014, I visited Samar, Philippines to follow-up on the Bayanihan Foundation’s recovery efforts and to donate laptop computers to the Giporlos Central Elementary School in Giporlos, Samar, the second town hit by the powerful Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history to hit landfall.  The foundation is trying to make long-term, sustainable impact in the islands devastated by the typhoon and show the power of Filipinos abroad helping Filipinos at home.

Overflowing jeepney in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines (August 2014)

Overflowing jeepney in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines (August 2014)

I was pleasantly surprised that Leyte was bustling with economic activity.  The local jeepneys were overflowing with passengers. Even the San Juanico bridge connecting Samar and Leyte islands is newly repainted in bright orange.

newly repainted San Juanico Bridge August 2014

newly repainted San Juanico Bridge connecting Samar and Leyte islands in the Philippines

I arrived in the town of Giporlos, Samar, a town of 15,000 people with 75% of the population suffered heavy losses of lives and property after Typhoon Haiyan. I was also pleasantly surprised that the town’s municipal hall is also being rebuilt and repainted.

Muncipal Town Hall of Giporlos, Samar, Philippines being rebuilt and renovated after Typhoon Haiyan

municipal Town Hall of Giporlos, Samar, Philippines being rebuilt and renovated after Typhoon Haiyan

I stayed at the home of Evelyn Castillo, the foundation’s Philippine Liaison.  In November 2013, Evelyn lost the entire roof of her home and almost all her belongings, due to the ravages of the powerful typhoon Haiyan.  I sighed with relief and was happy to see that her home has a new roof and I don’t have to sleep out in the open like the last time I visited her.

Bayanihan Foundation's Philippine LIaison, Evelyn Castillo home with a newly rebuilt roof after Typhoon Haiyan

Bayanihan Foundation’s Philippine LIaison, Evelyn Castillo home with a newly rebuilt roof after Typhoon Haiyan

Slowly but surely, Evelyn and the residents of Giporlos, Samar and the devastated towns of Samar and Leyte are slowly rebuilding their lives, a sign of the resiliency of the human spirit. It’s hard to imagine the powerful force of this devastating typhoon until you see for yourself the damage it has caused. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana with winds gusting up to 175 miles per hour.  Typhoon Haiyan was recorded to have wind gusts to 230 miles per hour. Despite the fury of the storm, Evelyn and the residents of Giporlos, Samar are picking up the pieces and recovering slowly but surely.

Marlefe Lo (standing far right) with her Fifth grade students of Giporlos Central School

Marlefe Lo (standing far right) with her Fifth grade students at Giporlos Central School

In November 2013, Ms. Marlefe ‘Bobit’ Lo, Evelyn’s sister-in-law invited me to visit her devastated school, the Giporlos Central Elementary School.  I saw the ravaged classrooms, the flooded library and the devastated school. She requested that the Bayanihan Foundation donate at least some books and dictionaries to her school and help her students recover from the typhoon.

(standing left to right) Dale Asis and Evelyn Castillo handing over six laptop computers to the Giporlos Central Elementary School

(standing left to right) Ernesto Elecho, teacher; Maria Enciso, Barangay 8 local town captain; Dale Asis and Evelyn Castillo of the Bayanihan Foundation handing over six laptop computers to the Giporlos Central Elementary School

In August 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation, in addition to the requested dictionaries,  donated six used laptop computers to the Giporlos Central Elementary School to help the teachers and the students recover from typhoon Haiyan. A big thanks to donor Will Dix for donating the used laptop computers. The teachers were excited to receive the laptop computers to help them with their administrative paperwork and with their teaching. The teachers were still using typewriters to send their paperwork to the school district.  In September 2014, Evelyn Castillo of the Bayanihan Foundation is planning a series of computer literacy training for the teachers to learn how to use and provide sustained care for the laptop computers. In the coming months, the teachers will learn how to use the laptops and then train their students on hands on computer training as well.  The Bayanihan Foundation is also slated to donate more used computers to the Giporlos National Trade School, the local high school in Giporlos, Samar.

(standing left to right) Dale Asis and Evelyn Castillo donating laptop computers to Giporlos Central Elementary School

(standing left to right) Dale Asis and Evelyn Castillo donating laptop computers to Giporlos Central Elementary School

I am glad that the Bayanihan Foundation, in its small way, could make sustainable impact in helping the residents of Giporlos, Samar recover from the devastating typhoon. A big thanks again to Will Dix for donating the used laptop computers. Otherwise, they would have ended in a landfill in the US but the Bayanihan Foundation put them to good use and poised to help teachers and students in Samar.  It’s a fine example on how Filipinos abroad can help Filipinos at home.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Disaster Relief, philanthropy, Philippines | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Filipino Christians giving packages to needy Filipino Muslims Moving Closer to Peace


In August 2014, during the Muslim holy day of Eid Ul Fitr,  the Zakat Foundation of America has partnered again with the Bayanihan Foundation and made it possible to  distribute hundreds of food packages and providing much-needed food relief to over 1,000 men, women and children during the holy month of Ramadan.  The Zakat Foundation of America, is an international charity organization that helps generous and caring people and reaching out to those in need. In 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation is honored to partner with the members of the Rotary Club of Iligan East who donated their time and helped put together and distributed the food packages.  Filipino Christians giving packages to needy Filipino Muslims created the unintended effect of goodwill, friendship and the slow earning of trust among Filipinos of different faiths and is slowly moving island of Mindanao, Philippines closer to peace.

Bayanihan Foundation partners with the Zakat Foundation and the Rotary Club Iligan East to distribute food packages to need Filipino Muslim families in Iligan, Philippines

Bayanihan Foundation partners with the Zakat Foundation and the Rotary Club Iligan East to distribute food packages to need Filipino Muslim families in Iligan, Philippines during Eid Ul Fitr

Members of Rotary Iligan East distributing food packages for needy Filipino Muslims

Members of Rotary Club Iligan East distributing food packages for needy Filipino Muslims

My uncle Vic Saavedra, my aunt Luz Saavedra, the local Imam Saidali Gandamra, Boy San Luis of Rotary Iligan East and many other Rotarians and local community members volunteered to make it possible the distribution of food packages possible for Filipino Muslim families and children.

Rotary member Boy San Luis of Rotary Iligan East helped spearhead the volunteer efforts

Rotary member Boy San Luis of Rotary Iligan East helped spearhead the volunteer efforts

Dr. Vicente Saavedra helping supervise the distribution of goods

Dr. Vicente Saavedra helped supervise the distribution of goods

Rotarian from Rotary Iligan East distributing food packages

Member from the Rotary Club of Iligan East distributing food packages

I wanted to share more pictures of the successful food distribution during the holy day celebration of Eid Ul Fitr.

Young boy receiving food package for his family

Young boy receiving food package for his family

Young girl, shy but excited to receive her food package for her family

Young girl, shy but excited to receive her food package for her family

The generous financial contribution of  the Zakat Foundation created the unintended effect of goodwill, friendship and the slow earning of trust among Filipinos of different faiths.  I agree that these food packages will not solve the deep divide between Christians and Muslims in the island of Mindanao nor heal the deep wounds that are hindering long-lasting peace in the island. However, I am glad that these food packages are a small step to healing and that Filipino Christians giving packages to needy Filipino Muslims is moving us closer to peace.

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Filipino Christians Provide Food Packages To Needy Filipino Muslims During Ramadan


For the fifth year, I am excited to share with you that  the Zakat Foundation of America has partnered again with the Bayanihan Foundation and sponsored the distribution of hundreds of food packages and providing much-needed food relief to over 1,000 men, women and children during the holy month of Ramadan.  The Zakat Foundation of America, is an international charity organization that helps generous and caring people and reaching out to those in need.

Iligan City (highlighted in red) in the southern island of Mindanao, Philippines

In 2013, the Zakat foundation was also very generous in donating emergency relief goods to the Philippines and helped thousands of families affected by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons in recorded history ever to hit landfall.

Dale Asis of Bayanihan Foundation (center) joins Murat Kose of the Zakat Foundation (second from right) in distributing relief goods in Tacloban City, Leyte right after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (Nov 2013)

Dale Asis of Bayanihan Foundation (center) joins Murat Kose of the Zakat Foundation (second from right) in distributing relief goods in Tacloban City, Leyte right after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (Nov 2013)

My uncle Vic Saavedra, my aunt Luz Saavedra, the local Imam Saidali Gandamra and many local community members volunteered to make it possible the distribution of food packages containing rice, sardines, eggs, powdered milk, soap, pencils and paper for Filipino Muslim families and children.

Filipino Christians distribute food packages to needy Filipino Muslims courtesy of the Zakat Foundation (2012 photo)

Filipino Christians distribute food packages to needy Filipino Muslims courtesy of the Zakat Foundation (2012 photo)

Vicente Saavedra (standing second from left) distributing food packages to Filipino Muslim families in Tambacan village, Iligan (2010 photo)

Uncle Vic, Aunt Luz and many volunteers donated their time in shopping, packaging and distributing over 300 gift packs for Filipino Muslim families that live at or below poverty in Mindanao.  They distributed the food packages to  three different villages and remote areas around Iligan City, Mindanao, Philippines.  Many families in the area have anticipated these food packages since they have grown in popularity over the years (see earlier post on food packages in 2010 and 2011).

The continued sharing of food packages among Christians and Muslims in Iligan have created the unintended effect of goodwill, friendship and the slow earning of trust among Filipinos of different faiths.  I agree that these food packages will not solve the deep divide between Christians and Muslims in the island of Mindanao nor heal the deep wounds that are hindering long-lasting peace in the island. However, I’m hopeful that these food packages are a small step to healing and that Filipino Christians giving packages to needy Filipino Muslims is moving us closer to peace.

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Youth in Cebu Learn about Permaculture, Sustainable Recovery and Development


In April 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation board member James Castillo led the Environmental Youth Camp for Sustainability. One of the major sessions of the youth camp was talking about permaculture and the possibilities of sustainable and holistic development in Cebu, Philippines. Here are the excerpts of his training session and his view points in developing permaculture and sustainable development in Cebu:

What is permaculture? (photo courtesy of solraya.blogspot.com)

What is permaculture? (photo courtesy of solraya.blogspot.com)

What is permaculture? Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, construction and Integrated Water Resources Management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.[1][2] The term permaculture (as a systematic method) was first coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to “permanent agriculture” [3] but was expanded to stand also for “permanent culture,” as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka‘s natural farming philosophy (Wikipedia 2014).

Youth participants in Cebu, Philippines learning about permaculture

Youth participants in Cebu, Philippines learning about permaculture

Throughout the camp in Cebu I was teaching the youth about permaculture. We looked into what permaculture is and how this simple yet radical approach could end poverty in the Philippines. I based the discussion on experience of the participants and explored some of the ongoing campaigns related to permaculture like the bases cleanup campaign in Clark and Subic, Philippines.  I helped the youth understand the different elements of this radical approach to landscape and agriculture. We explored its elements, principles and ethics and topics related to permaculture like soil, water, earthworks, trees, climate, aquaculture and aquaponics and alternative community setups.  With the help of the youth camp leaders,  we created together a permaculture design sketch for the community. I helped them see the long term rehabilitation of the land as well as the long term relationships among the community that lives around there, including the  environmental youth camp participants themselves.

James Castillo (second from right) hands out certificates of participation to youth attending Permaculture workshop

James Castillo (second from right) hands out certificates of participation to youth attending the Permaculture workshop

I inspired the youth to look forward to the idea of a potential development project in permaculture, the Kalambuan Holistic Development Project. This project is now in its planning stages that will put people and nature at the center of the design. This will be a project in Cebu with potential international participation, where volunteers and sponsors are welcome to help build the infrastructure to create this new model in this part of the world. We would need help from engineers, biologists, architects, sociologists, social workers, scientists, teachers, researchers, farmers, artists and other professionals to create systems as part of the Kalambuan Project.  This holistic project will eventually address all the needs of the people in this community and will make sure that children’s needs are met.  We need to carry forward this new vision to truly create a sustainable design where we are empowering the youth to create an abundant, sustainable and holistic world. I will be sharing more about this in the coming months, so stay tuned!

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

Here’s a related Ted Talk segment that describes this encompassing view-point of permaculture and sustainable holistic development:

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Disaster Relief, Environmental conservation, environmental sustainability, Philippine poverty, Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Youth, Arts, Environment and Sustainable Recovery After Typhoon Haiyan


In April 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation board member James Castillo traveled to Cebu, Philippines and led the Environmental Youth Camp for Sustainability. The following blog entry is his personal insight and experience of that wonderful trip:

Participants of the 2014 Environmental Youth Camp, Cebu, Philippines

Participants of the 2014 Environmental Youth Camp, Cebu, Philippines

For the past 4 years, the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide has supported the Environmental Youth Camp in Cebu. Each year a new generation of environmental volunteers are born. But this year’s camp is very important. The camp gathered 30 youth participants from different parts of Visayas, the region in the Philippines hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan.

Food Distribution, Cebu, Philippines

Food Distribution, Cebu, Philippines

On the second day of the camp the youth participants participated in the relief distribution of goods to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in Northern Cebu. Together with the 30 youth participants were members of the local youth organization, UYCO (uma youth christian organization).

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants plant mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines.

Youth participate in song writing for environmental sustainability workshop

Youth take part in song writing for environmental sustainability workshop

Song writing workshop in the midst of a sugarcane plantation.

Youth participants join in song writing workshop

Youth participants join in song writing workshop

Filmmaking workshop participants busy drafting their scripts about their experiences with the 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Typhoon Haiyan and Theater workshop participants at the first critiquing session.  Afterwards, filmmaking workshop participants are given awards for their scripts during the awards night part of the Solidarity Night.  Participants also gave a speech after receiving the best animated feature award. Daniel Uy, writer of The Flower talked about the community’s need to help restore the environment.

James Castillo (standing center) leads youth in a film making workshop

James Castillo (standing center) leads youth in a film making workshop

Song writing participants showcasing their original composition about saving the environment to the community.
James Castillo leading group in a song writing for environmental sustainablity workshop

Bayanihan Board member James Castillo together with representatives from VDRN (Visayas Disaster Response Network), VMPRDC (Visayas Mindanao People’s Resource Development Center) and CONCERN (Center for Emergency Aid and Rehabilitation, Inc.) presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the Mayor of Medellin, Cebu for supporting the 2014 camp.

Group photo environmental sustainability workshop in Cebu, Philippines

Group photo environmental sustainability workshop in Cebu, Philippines

During the last and fifth day of the camp,  youth participants decide to continue what they have learned and formed the Natura youth group. They will put together a project proposal to carry out a Permaculture project at one of the urban poor communities in Cebu City. This is the first camp that the organizers, volunteers and participants learned about permaculture or Permanent Agriculture, a new model at looking at Nature and Development. A vision that works with nature and not against it. The goal of Permaculture is to create holistic and self-sustaining communities that address all the basic needs of people while making nature more abundant. The Philippines is a tropical country. It makes no sense why millions of Filipinos go without proper food and water every day. The 2014 Environmental Youth Campers together with concerned people nationally and internationally will start the long process of sustainable recovery for Filipinos. Out of the destruction and chaos of Typhoon Haiyan, grassroots communities in Cebu and other devastated islands will rise like a Phoenix, a symbol that will show the world that we can still make that vision of a sustainable future a reality.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Disaster Relief, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, Philippines, Poverty | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Filipino Amerasians, America’s Forgotten Children, Celebrated 4th of July


Members of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) celebrate 4th of July 2014

Members of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) celebrate 4th of July 2014 at SM City Clark Mall Angeles City, Philippines

Members of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) celebrate 4th of July 2014

Members of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) celebrate 4th of July 2014

Members of the United Philippine Amerasians dancing and performing at SM City Clark Mall, Angeles City, Philippines

Members of the United Philippine Amerasians dancing and performing at SM City Clark Mall, Angeles City, Philippines

Mark Gilbore, member of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA)

Mark Gilbore, member of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA)

On July 4, 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation sponsored the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) 4th of July celebration at SM City Clark Mall in Angeles City, Philippines.  In 2012, the Bayanihan Foundation co-sponsored with WedPro, the formation of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA), a group of young Filipino Amerasians that recognized their contributions to Filipino and American societies.  The UPA hopes to increase the public’s awareness of Filipino Amerasian issues, challenges, ideals and successes. There are more than 50,000 Amerasians left behind; they are America’s forgotten children.  Three years ago, the Bayanihan Foundation partnered with WeDpro and Buklod, nongovernmental organizations (NGO)s in the Philippines to support the Filipino Amerasian community leaders and the creation of the UPA. In 2014, I am proud to share that the Bayanihan Foundation continues to support these young Amerasian women and men in supporting their Fourth of July activities and celebration, as they are Americans as well. I have included below a personal excerpt from Ms. Tin Jackson, United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) Event Organizer. She shares her personal insights into organizing the 4th of July 2014 event:

Organizer Ms. Tin Jackson (standing far right) interviews presenters at 4th of July celebration 2014

Organizer Ms. Tin Jackson (standing far right) interviews presenters at 4th of July celebration 2014

“I started at United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) last July 2012. We formed the group together with my fellow Amerasians and with the support of WEDPRO and the Bayanihan Foundation. The group just celebrated its third anniversary this year.  I’m glad that the members are still active; we even have new Amerasian members. It’s important that we are celebrate the Fourth of July, the US Independence Day.  This is an opportunity to tell everyone that we are not just souvenir babies or G.I babies. We are also Americans. At the same time, we are productive citizens of the Philippines.  We are moving forward.

I implore everyone that participated in our Fourth of July activity to join us in our advocacy that we as Filipino Amerasians should be recognized by the US government like all the Amerasians from other countries. The world should know who we really are. We should not be cast aside.  Many of us feel lonely; many are searching for their American fathers.  Thousands of other Filipino Amerasians visit our Facebook page and are curious on how to become part of the UPA group. Many Filipino Amerasians are inquiring on how to they could file an US citizenship or a visa to travel to the US. However, we all know that we Filipino Amerasians were cast aside and were not given that legal recognition like other Amerasians around the world.”

Posted in Amerasians, Diaspora Giving, justice, philanthropy, Philippines, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment