Education Leads to Action for Philippines Environmental Cleanup


In July 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation supported travel to the Philippines with the NEXTGEN Fellows and the Kaluluwa Kolectivo. The following three blog posts reflect insights and experiences of that trip.

Young resident of LIloan Cebu, a fisher folk community supported by the Bayanihan Foundation since 2011.

Young resident of LIloan Cebu, a fisher folk community supported by the Bayanihan Foundation since 2011.

In July 2015, I traveled to the Philippines with the members of Kaluluwa Kolectivo and the NEXTGEN Fellows. They were engaged in the Foundation’s efforts to conduct regular youth environmental workshops, encourage discussion of climate change and environmental sustainability, and prove how individuals everywhere can have a positive impact in their communities.  They were exposed to the sustainable community partnerships that the Bayanihan Foundation has supported for long-term local solutions for climate change.

BBC News: Satellites trace sea level change

Sea level rise

On September 2012, the BBC reported that 18 years of satellite observations provided a startling view of sea-level change around the world.  Incorporating the data from a number of satellites, the study re-affirms that ocean waters globally are rising by just over 3mm/yr. However, that figure hides some very big regional differences – and unfortunately, the Philippine Sea has seen increases in excess of 10mm/yr (Amos: Satellite Traces Sea Level Changes, BBC, September 2012).

The Bayanihan Foundation and its local community partners in the Philippines have responded to these accelerating changes threatening the Philippine archipelago of over 7,000 islands. We believe that we can do something to positively affect climate change locally. I was fortunate enough to share with the NEXTGEN Fellows and Kaluluwa Kolectivo three examples of long-term sustainability that the Bayanihan Foundation has been working on. They are good examples of community-driven, grassroots-empowered solutions to climate change:

I. Conducting Youth Environmental Workshops, Providing Critical Consciousness Raising and Planting Mangrove Trees in Liloan, Cebu

(left to right): James Castillo, board member of the Bayanihan Foundation, long-time supporter of youth environmental workshops in Cebu and Jane Baron, NEXTGEN Fellow

(left to right): James Castillo, board member of the Bayanihan Foundation, long-time supporter of youth environmental workshops in Cebu and Jane Baron, NEXTGEN Fellow

Since 2011, board member James Castillo has conducted youth environmental workshops in Liloan, Cebu. He and other donors of the Bayanihan Foundation, including Heman and Ruth Ezra and Cesar Conde, have enabled  hundreds of local  youth to attend environmental workshops to raise their awareness of  climate change. One effort has been the replanting of mangrove trees to re-establish environmental balance.

Unfortunately, mangrove trees, which provide flood control and fish habitat in the area, have been greatly eradicated partly due to urban growth in Cebu.  This decrease  has threatened the way of life of many fisher folk community in Liloan. To combat this, hundreds of youth have planted over 20,000 mangrove trees since 2011.

(left to right): Jeselle Santiago and Stephanie Camba planting mangrove trees

(left to right): Jeselle Santiago and Stephanie Camba planting mangrove trees

NEXTGEN Fellows and participants of the Kauluwa Kolectivo participate in a youth environmental workshop with the Visayas Mindanao People's Resource Development Center (VMPRDC)

NEXTGEN Fellows and participants of the  Kaluluwa Kolectivo take part in a youth environmental workshop with the Visayas Mindanao People’s Resource Development Center (VMPRDC)

II. Leading Environmental Youth Workshops in Giporlos, Samar after Typhoon Haiyan

(left to right): Marc Butiong, Stephanie Camba and James Castillo lead discussion on environmental sustainability and climate change at Giporlos National Trade School

(left to right): Marc Butiong, Stephanie Camba and James Castillo lead discussion on environmental sustainability and climate change at Giporlos National Trade School

NEXTGEN Fellows and participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo lead discussion on environmental sustainablity at Giporlos National Trade School

NEXTGEN Fellows and participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo lead discussion on environmental sustainability at Giporlos National Trade School

In July 2015, NEXTGEN Fellows and participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo led a discussion with hundreds of high school juniors and seniors from Giporlos National Trade School in Giporlos, Samar. They led the students in a discussion about the connection of environmental sustainability, climate change and the recent super typhoon Haiyan that hit the island. A large number of scientists around the world have formed a consensus that overall storm intensity has categorically increased and could be linked to climate change (Vidal & Carrington: Is Climate Change To Blame for Typhoon Haiyan? The Guardian, November 2013). This was the first time the school had ever held such a discussion on global warming and climate change as the Bayanihan Foundation continues its long-term partnership with the school. In 2014, the Foundation donated ten desktop computers.  Later in 2015, it plans to donate two public latrines to the school.  These environmental discussions are part of the Foundation’s long-term efforts to help the region recover from the devastating effects of super typhoon Haiyan and begin the long-term process of community work for positive change.

III. Partnering with local government and barangay (village) officials for environmental clean up and long-term sustainability

Evelyn Castillo, Bayanihan Foundation liaison holding up a mangrove tree seedling in Liloan, Cebu

Evelyn Castillo, Bayanihan Foundation liaison holding up a mangrove tree seedling in Liloan, Cebu

Evelyn Castillo, the Bayanihan Foundation Liaison, led the charge with eight local barangay (village) officials, the Vice Mayor Fritzie Odron, and the municipality of Giporlos to hold the town’s first environmental cleanup effort. In November 2013, super typhoon Haiyan swept through Giporlos and other towns in Samar and Leyte, creating havoc and destruction and leaving behind lots of trash and debris.

Participants from Kaluluwa Kolectivo inspecting the participation of Barangay Parenas in its environmental clean up efforts

Participants from Kaluluwa Kolectivo inspecting the participation of Barangay Parenas in its environmental clean up efforts

In July 2015, hundreds of barangay volunteers, including youth from the Giporlos National Trade School, collected over two tons of plastic, garbage, gravel and debris left behind by Haiyan.  Participants from the Kaluluwa Kolectivo and the NEXTGEN Fellows joined to celebrate this effort and hand out certificates and awards to the winning barangays (villages) that did the most thorough cleanup.

While climate change continues to be mired in politics and is a target of naysayers, the increasing amount of trash and plastic in the oceans is an easier issue to address because it is so visible (Parker: Millions of Tons of Plastic in Oceans, Scientist Studying Impact; National Geographic, June 2014).

Evelyn Castillo and barangay (village) officials accpeting awards and certificates after the successful environmental clean up efforts there

Evelyn Castillo and barangay (village) officials accepting awards and certificates after the successful environmental clean up efforts there

(left to right): Evelyn Castillo and Norms Alonso of the Visayas Mindanao Peoples' Resource Development Center (VMPRDC)

(left to right): Evelyn Castillo and Normalyn Alonso of the Visayas Mindanao Peoples’ Resource Development Center (VMPRDC)

(left to right): Evelyn Castillo, Marc Butiong and Jeselle Santiago gives thank you certificate to Barangay (village) Captain of Parenas, Giporlos Samar

(left to right): Evelyn Castillo, Marc Butiong and Jeselle Santiago gives thank you certificate to Barangay (village) Captain of Parenas, Giporlos Samar

Discussions of global warming and climate change can be overwhelming at times and participants could feel powerless as the discussion is often mired in politics and political stalemate. However, the Bayanihan Foundation shows that grassroots community efforts can happen and make a difference.

I was fortunate to be able to show the  Kaluluwa Kolectivo and NEXTGEN Fellows that the Foundation is leading the charge in creating change. These changes happen with four key partnerships: 1) local community organizations like the Visayas Mindanao People’s Resource Development Center (VMPRDC) and Normalyn Alonso; 2) local municipal government officials and barangay (village) officials; 3) consistent donors who support the idea of long-term partnerships for sustainable change; and 4) investment in the next generation of Filipino Americans for learning and connecting locally and globally.

 

Participants from Kaluluwa Kolectivo and NEXTGEN Fellows pose after conducting environmental workshop in Giporlos, Samar

Participants from Kaluluwa Kolectivo and NEXTGEN Fellows pose after conducting environmental workshop in Giporlos, Samar

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Philippines, Uncategorized, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Sharing Gifts and Blessings During Ramadan


In July 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation supported the trip to the Philippines with the NEXTGEN Fellows and the Kaluluwa Kolectivo. The following four blog posts reflect insights and experiences of that trip.

(left to right): Volunteers from Rotary Iligan South, Mrs. Luz Saavedra, NextGen Fellows and Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants join in distirbuting food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims

(left to right): Volunteers from Rotary Iligan South, Mrs. Luz Saavedra, NextGen Fellows and Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants join in distributing food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims

Muslims are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, a holy day that comes at the end of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr is a day of merriment and thanksgiving marked by gatherings with friends and family, wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts and putting up lights. It is also a time for reflection, a time to remember those who don’t have enough, to count our blessings while also giving charity to others. The Bayanihan Foundation follows this spirit of giving that cuts across religion and ethnicity.

In July 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation partnered with the Zakat Foundation of America in distributing over 3 tons of rice and food to over 100 indigent Filipino Muslim families in Iligan City, Philippines. Since 2010, the food package distribution was made possible by the tireless efforts of many people including my uncle and aunt, Dr. Vicente and Mrs. Luz Saavedra, the local Imam, Atty. Saidali Gandamra and countless volunteers from the Rotary Iligan South and Rotary Iligan East.

(left to right): E Armea of Kaluluwa Kolectivo and Marc Butiong, NEXTGEN Fellow distributes food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims in Iligan City, Philippines

(left to right): E Armea of Kaluluwa Kolectivo and Marc Butiong, NEXTGEN Fellow distributes food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims in Iligan City, Philippines

Evelyn Castillo (center) directs traffic flow of recipients during the food distribution

Evelyn Castillo (center) directs traffic flow of recipients during the food distribution

For the last five years, Christian Rotarian volunteers have packed, distributed and provided help in giving these food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims. The years of gift giving has engendered goodwill and trust among the local community and slowly but surely built trust and peace among Christians and Muslims in the area.

Filipino Muslim woman receiving food packages during Ramadan

Filipino Muslim woman receiving food packages during Ramadan

 

The local volunteers including the local Imam, Atty. Gandamra chose Barangay (village) Mahayahay to be the recipients of these food packages as many residents there recently suffered a devastating fire in the neighborhood. One hundred families received a fifty-pound sack of rice, canned goods, sugar, coffee, ramen noodles and other condiments that will last them for one month. This must have been the largest food gift giving they have ever received.

I am so glad that I got to share this gift giving and food distribution with the NEXTGEN Fellows and the participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo, Filipino-American students and young professionals traveling and rediscovering their heritage. I was fortunate to share this important part of the Philippines where both Christians and Muslims strive to live together and find common ground.

(left to right): Marc Butiong and Crystle Dino distributing food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims

(left to right): Marc Butiong and Crystle Dino distributing food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims

Man receiving sack of rice as part of Ramadan gift giving

Man receiving sack of rice as part of Ramadan gift giving

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

NEXTGEN Fellow Marc Butiong Considers Going “Home” for the First Time


Bayanihan Foundation NEXTGEN Fundraiser May 31, 2015

Bayanihan Foundation NEXTGEN Fundraiser May 31, 2015

Marc Butiong (center) shares a happy moment with Dale Asis, Marie Butiong and James Castillo (left to right)

Marc Butiong (center) shares a happy moment with Dale Asis, Marie Butiong and James Castillo (left to right)

On May 31, 2015, Marc Butiong, Bayanihan Foundation NEXTGEN Fellow played the role as emcee and host for the evening’s fundraiser. The theme for the evening’s fundraiser is coming home (Pagbabalik). I prepared him a short speech to briefly introduced himself and the evening’s program.  Instead, he shared a passionate speech that sets the tone for the evening as the Bayanihan Foundation announced the first recipients of the NEXTGEN Travel Fellowship. Marc shares his personal reflections as he travels “home” to the Philippines for the first time.

Marc Butiong, 2015 NEXTGEN Fellow played the host for the evening fundraiser May 31, 2015

Marc Butiong, 2015 NEXTGEN Fellow played the host for the evening fundraiser May 31, 2015

“It is such an honor and privilege to be able to share that me and two other recent college graduates have been selected as the first-ever “NEXTGEN: Pagbabalik Scholars” for the Bayanihan Foundation. We have been selected among a talented pool of applicants to travel back home to the Philippines to contribute to local, sustainable projects that will have an impact on the communities for years to come. We will embark on a journey to develop our Filipino identity through the projects we will take part in and look forward to the cultural immersion that will manifest in our travels. This is an opportunity to experience the homeland through a program that will undoubtedly expose our group to the beauty, history, and indigenous practices of our native Philippines.

It is important to note that we take this opportunity as more than just the chance to visit the homeland. This opportunity that the Bayanihan Foundation has awarded us will be a transcending experience. We were chosen for a reason. We were chosen because of our leadership and willingness to allow the experience to transform us. To transform our perception, thoughts, and eventual goals for what we can contribute to the Philippines not only through the trip, but for years to come. It’s important for us to share these stories with our families and friends. These stories and experiences will influence our own communities and serve as the continual reminder that we can always look to the Bayanihan Foundation for inspiration in allowing us to continue to grow as leaders.

(left to right): Jeselle Santiago, Jane Baron,  James Castillo and Marc Butiong

(left to right): Jeselle Santiago, Jane Baron, James Castillo and Marc Butiong

This is the first year the Bayanihan Foundation has awarded scholarships for second-generation Filipinos to go home. Much of the success of the trip now and years to come depends on a successful first year. I can honestly say that we take that sentiment to heart and look forward to contributing our efforts to build this program to its highest potential. As bridge-builders do, we will be there every step of the way to form a solid foundation. That foundation starts now.”

Posted in Diaspora Giving, philanthropy, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“The Color of Revolution” Reflects NEXTGEN Participant’s Personal Journey


(left to right): Jeselle Santiago, Jane Baron,  James Castillo and Marc Butiong

Bayanihan Foundation board member James Castillo (third from left) announcing the NEXTGEN Fellows (left to right) Jeselle Santiago, Jane Baron, James Castillo and Marc Butiong

In 2008, I won the Chicago Community Trust Fellowship and I got the chance to go back to the Philippines. That trip changed my life. In 2010, I wanted to duplicate that life transforming experience to young Filipino Americans. I want to give them the gift of travel and give them opportunities to create sustainable projects. The idea was simple – encourage young Filipino Americans to visit the Philippines; know more about the culture; learn about the Bayanihan Foundation’s sustainable projects; and eventually they would develop their own sustainable projects. In 2015, after several tries, the NEXTGEN Travel Fellowship was finally up and running. On May 31, 2015 at the Bayanihan fundraiser, board member James Castillo announced the names of the NEXTGEN Fellows – Jane Baron, Marc Butiong and Jeselle Santiago. I was standing in the back of the room when I heard his announcement. I could not believe it.  I am finally taking the NEXTGEN Fellows to the Philippines, a culmination of a long-term effort. That evening, NEXTGEN Fellow Jane Baron also shared her poem “The Color of Revolution.”  She captured the essence of my own personal journey and why I’m passionate to make the NEXTGEN Travel Fellowship a reality.

Jane Baron shares her thoughts about being selected as a NEXTGEN Fellow,  her upcoming trip to the Philippines and her own personal journey:

Jane Baron, Loyola University Chicago 2016

2015 NEXTGEN Fellow Jane Baron, Loyola University Chicago 2016

“Since immigrating to the United States, the Filipino culture is something I have always valued, but in order to feel accepted into the American culture, I forced myself to forget parts of my culture that were labeled as different. It was only recently that I started to become confident in expressing myself through my culture. By immersing myself in Filipino history and culture, I started to understand the internal oppression that I have faced and still face, and it also taught me to fully love myself. My poem, “The Color of Revolution,” represents how I have felt about being forced to forget my culture, and it also tells my hope of rediscovery in the future.

Being part of the NEXTGEN Fellowship and being surrounded by people who have similar beliefs makes me feel empowered to re-explore my culture. I believe that visiting my homeland will help me appreciate my heritage as well as remind me of my privilege. In going on this trip, I hope to rediscover how beautiful my culture is while doing sustainable projects in my homeland, make lasting relationships with the communities we visit, and continue working together to empower our community.”

NEXTGEN Fellow Jane Baron reciting her poem "The Color of Revolution"

NEXTGEN Fellow Jane Baron reciting her poem “The Color of Revolution”

Jane Baron shares her poem “The Color of Revolution”

I was 9 when they stole me away
from my mother’s garden
and chopped off my roots.

They chained my hands & feet
and squeezed my heart like clay.

My body was stripped of its
growing leaves,
stuffed in a tiny luggage,
and checked-in for an 18-hour flight.

…A flight to the land of gold streets
…A land of endless opportunities

Any traces of ancestral blood that
dripped from my cuts were carefully
bleached to erase any clues
that would lead my mother
back to Me.

My skin was scrubbed & sanitized,
until the color faded
into purity
and blended in with their own thoughts of
normal.

They cut off my tongue,
sewed my lips shut,
so that the honey-like words
that my mother sang would
cause pain & shame.

My insides were cleansed & naturalized,
and my brain had its memories
beaten out of it.

…the rice fields with houses made of dried nipa leaves

…the rainbow of stars during the hot Christmas nights

…the streets flooded with flowers in February

…the community of brown familiar faces that nurtured my seed

All forgotten and stuffed in a caged box.

But my blue & bruised heart still attempts to fight for Freedom.
Hoping that one day…
my Skin will regain its normal color,
my Tongue will regrow
and my Soul will heal,
 …more resilient than before,

…and sprout yellow roses,

…in the Color of Revolution.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Philippines, Uncategorized, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘Kaluluwa Kolectivo’ (Soul Collective) Connecting Community and Spirituality


Kaluluwa Kolectivo (Soul Collective)

Kaluluwa Kolectivo (Soul Collective)

In 2000, I’ve met Irene Juaniza.  I have always admired her and her community organizing work – training young immigrant leaders in the San Francisco Bay area, organizing low-income working class families in Chicago’s south side,  fighting for the rights of restaurant workers in Chicago. She is one of the very few Filipino Americans that I knew that are working as community organizers. Irene truly believes that we could affect the change that we wish to see in the world.

In 2014, our paths have crossed again and this time in deeper meaningful ways than I ever would have imagined. The Bayanihan Foundation is proud to support the group that Irene helped spearhead, Kaluluwa Kolectivo (Soul Collective).  The Kaluluwa Kolectivo is exploring the connection between community and spirituality.  The collective consists of e Armea, Stephanie Camba, Crystle Diño and Irene Juaniza.

Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants (left to right): Stephanie Camba, Crystle Dino, Irene Juaniza, e Armea

Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants (left to right): Stephanie Camba, Crystle Dino, Irene Juaniza, e Armea

What is the Kaluluwa Kolectivo (Soul Collective) all about? 

The Kaluluwa Kolectivo  explores how Filipino pre-colonial indigenous spiritual practices are continued to be used in everyday life to build thriving communities. The collective’s upcoming trip to the Philippines originates from creating community in order to support the participants’ personal and collective spirit work. Having met through varying social and political endeavors, they are building relationships and supporting each other’s spiritual paths. Although each path varies, the Kaluluwa Kolectivo share a common understanding – we are all spiritual beings living a human existence. For Kaluluwa Kolectivo, it understands “spirit” as guided by a process of inquiry and action to address the question: “How do we live as genuine expressions of the Divine Source through every thought, action, and intention?”

The Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will be traveling in the Philippines for over two weeks.  They will seek out and learn more about spiritual practices before the advent of Spanish and American colonialism. They will seek out these practices as they are played out in simple and daily routines, whether through cultural practices or overt spiritual spaces.  The Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will explore their indigenous spirituality at the same time mirror their own spiritual process. This trip is the start of a journey and perhaps will last beyond this first visit.

When will the Kaluluwa Kolectivo travel to the Philippines?

From June 23 to July 7, 2015, the participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo will be traveling to the Philippines with the three NEXTGEN Fellows: Jane Baron, Marc Butiong and Jeselle Santiago.  Both Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants and NEXTGEN Fellows will be visiting different regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. They will visit Cebu, Samar, Tacloban, Iligan and Manila.  Then from July 7 to July 10, 2015, the Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will travel to the Cordilleras in northern Luzon.  In each site, the Bayanihan Foundation will provide the travel logistics, connect them to potential partnerships and help them relationships with the local community. The Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will also bring goods and gifts to each place from books to wheelchairs, based on what the community thinks they need.

Why is the Kaluluwa Kolectivo doing this?

The participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo have been involved as community activists and organizers for a long time. They have been engaged in the arts and in varying social justice issues. Irene and the Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants have created spaces for themselves and others to critically reflect, to re-imagine, to build relationships, and to take action. The common goal of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo community work is to assert and support self-determination. This intention echoes the Collective’s commitment to build community through each individual’s freedom to live and love as their Genuine Self.

I will be traveling with the Kaluluwa Kolectivo. I will also share the insights of our trip through continued community building. Many of the friends and family of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo have heard their song. They have organized and went door knocking; marched at an action; attended a workshop; danced at one of the fundraising events; sat in a healing session; or traveled with the Collective in ceremony. The Kaluluwa Kolectivo is a community. We invite you to continue this path with the Kaluluwa Kolectivo as we journey together.

How can you help?

I urge you to donate and support the worthwhile efforts of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo. You can donate at their online fundraising page http://bit.ly/1Gtfchc Your donation will go towards travel costs, stipends, honorarium, safety materials and other necessary expenses.  All donations will be going to the Bayanihan Foundation to support the work fo the Collective.  Your donation is tax-deductible as permitted by law.

Kaluluwa Kolectivo image with traditional bamboo and 'batik' (traditional dyed) cloth prints

Kaluluwa Kolectivo image with traditional bamboo and ‘batik’ (traditional dyed) cloth prints

Kaluluwa Kolectivo Participant Bios
e:
Hi. I’m e. I’m a quiet kinky fat transmasculine genderqueer Filipino living and loving in Chicago, the city I was born and raised in. I am my mother’s daughter and my father’s son. I have a strong relationship with the moon, love working with my hands and building little buildings as well as community. I’m a Pisces sun, Taurus rising, and Gemini moon. I’m a platonic husband to 4 people, best friend to three, and a lover of my community and chosen fam.

Stephanie:
I am an undocumented, queer, Chicago based Pilipin@ storyteller, writer, poet, singer, MC, healer, organizer, and all in all funny person. I am on this path to meet my family for the first time in 24 years, to connect with the land I come from and where my ancestors have lived and died, to learn and grow with and from the people and places I interact with, and to let the vibrations of my motherland live through me and allow me to sing our stories and memories of a more just world until we are all free. I launched my fundraising site earlier than the rest of the crew because of additional fees I needed to pay in order to apply for travel as an undocumented person. I’m a Gemini sun, Libra rising, and Leo moon.

Crystle: 
I am a Chi-Pinay- multidisciplinary artist, mover and Filipino Martial Artist, believer in healing energy, cultural bearer, and Ninang/Tita/Pinsan/SisterHermana/Daughter/Kaibigan/HomeGirl/Sun/Mahal/Lover.  I am deeply grateful and over-joyed that my path is allowing me to re-connect to my Motherland once again.  I am excited to embark on this journey with my KaKol Pamilya in remembering carefully the love, power, and presence of our Ancestors and strengthening the connection of the knowledge and gifts that are within us to be shared with our community.  I am ready and open to step from a place where fear and shame no longer live, but where Heart and Mind are aligned.  I am stepping in rhythm to Tiwala, Tiwala na…   Scorpio. All. Ova. This.

Irene:
Born in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, I honor my Batangueña and Waray ancestry, and call on the Babaylan essence as I walk the Spirit path. Leo sun, Scorpio rising, Sagittarius moon, I gift the element of fire to our Kolectivo. Whether cultivating movement consciousness through community building or Soul work, I call on my Divine self to bring forth the perfection of love, life, and light in all that I see, speak, and do. I AM all that I AM.

Twitter: @KaKolectivo
Instagram: KaluluwaKolectivo

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Spirituality | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

NEXTGEN: ‘Pagbabalik’ (Coming Home) Fundraising Dinner


2015-05-31 17.37.31

The Bayanihan Foundation recognized the ‘Kaluluwa Kolectivo’ (Soul Collective) participants and awarded NEXTGEN Travel Scholarships to three deserving recent college graduates. Please see pictures from the dinner below.

James Castillo, Bayanihan Board Member, presenting NEXTGEN Fellows: Jeselle Santiago (University of Illinois at Chicago), Jane Baron (Loyola University Chicago), and Marc Butiong (University of Illinois at Chicago).


2015-05-31 19.17.10

Irene Juaniza presenting the KaluluwaKolectivo (Soul Collective) purpose and members. From left to right; Stephanie Camba, Crystle Dino, Irene Juaniza, and E Armea

2015-05-31 19.08.57

2015-05-31 17.37.42

The guest enjoyed purple jam cake for dessert.

2015-05-31 19.19.09

Dinner attendees enjoyed a delicious Lechon and Filipino comfort food

To see more photos from the Pagbabalik Dinner please Bayanihan’s Facebook page by clicking this link. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Young Filipino-Americans First to Win NEXTGEN Scholarships


In 2008, I received the Chicago Community Trust Fellowship and I had the rare opportunity to travel back to the Philippines and visit my mother’s native village in Bicol, in the southernmost tip of Luzon Island, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago. There I was confronted with the poverty in the region and of my own distant relatives.  I had the chance to travel back home and I saw the connection between the desperation of my family and the overwhelming number of immigrants who feel they must migrate to seek a better life.  This was a turning point in my life.

In 2015, I want to offer that same opportunity to young Filipino Americans to go back home, discover their roots and at the same time offer them opportunities to become long-term partners for change in the Philippines.  I had the tremendous support of the Bayanihan Foundation board members and the NEXTGEN Travel Scholarship came about. Special thanks go to Rebecca Bardach and the Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI) for inspiring me to do this work.  After a rigorous and competitive selection process, I am proud to announce the three young Filipino Americans first to win NEXTGEN Scholarships for 2015. The NEXTGEN Fellows will visit the Philippines in June 2015 for 14 days. They will rediscover their homeland and cultural heritage, connect with their relatives, explore opportunities to volunteer and encourage them to be long-term partners for change in the Philippines.

Young Filipino Americans First to Win NEXTGEN Scholarships – Fellows of 2015

Jane Baron

Jane Baron, Loyola University Chicago 2016

Jane Baron, Loyola University Chicago 2015

Jane Baron immigrated to the US when she was nine years old. She recently obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Loyola University Chicago. During her four years at Loyola, she was involved in Kapwa, a Filipino student organization on campus and became President of Kapwa in the 2014-2015 academic school year. She was also a Women of Color Scholar and a Social Justice Research Fellow at Loyola. Outside of school, she was an Impact Fellow and Kinetic Instructor at Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago.

Marc Butiong

Marc Butiong, University of Illinois at Chicago 2016

Marc Butiong, University of Illinois at Chicago 2015

Marc Butiong is a recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Finance. He served as a student leader for multiple organizations on campus and will apply the same dedication as a bridge-builder for the Bayanihan Foundation. This will be his first trip to the Philippines and first opportunity to experience the homeland through diaspora philanthropy. He will begin his professional career with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in July 2015.

Jeselle Santiago

Jeselle Santiago, University of illinois Chicago 2017

Jeselle Santiago, University of Illinois at Chicago 2015

Jeselle is a recent college graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Asian American Studies. She has a heart for helping others and hopes to make a positive impact in the mental health field. She was born in Manila, Philippines then raised in America—and she embraces her truly Filipino American identity. With the generosity of the Bayanihan foundation, she will finally have the opportunity to explore this identity further.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, philanthropy, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , | 2 Comments