Stay With the Philippines: Helping Street Children in Leyte


This blog entry recalls the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and the impact of the Bayanihan Foundation in providing immediate relief and continued recovery efforts.  The foundation provided food packages to street children scavenging food in garbage dumpsites in Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines.  Please stay with the Philippines and continue your support.

Street children picking scraps from a garbage dump in Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines (photo courtesy of Feeding A Future)

Street children picking scraps from a garbage dump in Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines (photo courtesy of Feeding A Future)

Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis distributing food to street children in Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines (2014)

Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis distributing food to street children in a nearby garbage dumpsites in Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines (2014)

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan,  known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda hit landfall and devastated the island of Leyte, Philippines. The storm quickly became the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit landfall, and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed.[4]  up to 315 km/hr. In comparison, Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orléans, Louisiana in 2006 had sustained winds up to 280 km/hr.

In 2014, a year after Typhoon Haiyan hit landfall in the Philippines, the Bayanihan Foundation continues its impact after the aftermath of the typhoon and continues its plea for your help to stay with the Philippines and become a partner for long-term sustainability. The foundation responded immediately. I was helping Evelyn Castillo, the foundation’s Philippine Liaison immediately distribute food relief in helping far-flung barangays (villages) in Samar.  The Bayanihan Foundation, at times, were the first ones that provided critical food relief to some of these families in some of these remote areas.

Dale Asis and Evelyn Castillo distributing food to street children

Dale Asis and Evelyn Castillo distributing food to street children

Street Children food distribution

Dale Asis and Evelyn Castillo distributing food relief to street children

street children receiving food relief

Street children in Barangay Santo Nino, Tacloban City, Leyte lining up to receive food relief after Typhoon Haiyan

I also helped Evelyn Castillo, the foundation’s Philippine Liaison provide food relief to street children and their families scavenging in a nearby garbage dump site in Barangay (Village) Santo Nino, Tacloban City . These street children are education scholars of Blair Smart and his project Feeding A Future.

In 2010, I met Blair Smart and I wrote a blog entry about his efforts to provide basic food and scholarships to 20 children living in garbage dumpsites outside Tacloban City in Leyte Island, Philippines.  Blair is a medical student at Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL and has raised substantial donations to provide food and educational scholarships to these indigent children scavenging foods and scraps in garbage dump sites to survive.

Street children receiving food relief in Tacloban City, Leyte

Street children receiving food relief in Tacloban City, Leyte

IMG_0573

Dale Asis (far left) and Evelyn Castillo (far right) pose with street children scavenging from a nearby garbage dump site. The children received food packages.

You might say that helping 20 children is quite small compared to the hundreds of thousands of street children that go hungry every night. However, I admire Blair’s commitment as he overcame the cynicism; he wanted to affect change. The Bayanihan Foundation also would like you to overcome that cynicism, to stay with the Philippines, continue your support and help us along the road of long-term recovery. Would you donate $20 and provide a bag of food relief for one street child and her family? You can donate securely online through PayPal by clicking on this LINK.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Disaster Relief, Philippine poverty | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Typhoon Haiyan, One Year Later: Stay With the Philippines


This blog entry recalls the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, the impact of the Bayanihan Foundation and my plea for your continued support and for you to stay with the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan Hits Landfall, November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan Eye of the Storm about to Hit Landfall (November 2013)

Typhoon Haiyan Eye of the Storm about to Hit Landfall (November 2013)

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan,  known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda hit landfall in Guian, Samar, Philippines. It devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines and became the strongest storm recorded to hit landfall, and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed.[4]  I did not think much of the storm since the Philippines typically gets pounded by about 20 tropical cyclones a year.  However, as days went by and more devastating news poured in, I realized that this was not just any other storm. News reported that Typhoon Haiyan have sustained winds recorded up to 315 km/hr, compared to Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orléans, Louisiana in 2006 had sustained winds up to 280 km/hr. By the following weekend, the Bayanihan Foundation have received over $10,000 in unsolicited funds including donations from the Zakat Foundation of America, who regularly supported food packages to indigent Filipino Muslims in Mindanao, Philippines. Two weeks later, on November 28, 2013, I was on a flight to the Philippines to help provide emergency relief.  They entrusted their donations to the Bayanihan Foundation and I became a custodian of the thousands of donations I received from Filipinos abroad and non-Filipinos who wanted to help.

(left to right): Dale Asis arriving in Tacloban City Airport right after Typhoon Hayian with Evelyn Castillo of the Bayanihan Foundation

(left to right): Dale Asis arriving in Tacloban City Airport right after Typhoon Haiyan with Evelyn Castillo of the Bayanihan Foundation

Typhoon Haiyan, One Year Later 2014: Three Points of Impact of the Bayanihan Foundation

I would like to emphasize three major points that prove the impact of the Bayanihan Foundation after the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan one year later and its continued impact in helping with the recovery and rehabilitation efforts for long-term sustainability. Although major efforts have been made, the Bayanihan Foundation implores you to stay with the Philippines and continue to be a partner for long-term sustainability. The foundation is asking for your support for three short and long-term projects and become a partner for long-term recovery.

1. Immediate Recovery Relief

By August 2014, I have visited Leyte and Samar islands three times and have participated in handing out thousands of emergency food relief packages worth over $15,000 to far-flung barangays (villages) in Leyte and Samar including providing food relief packages to street children scavenging on a garbage dump site in Tacloban, Leyte. These street children are education scholars of Blair Smart and his project that have helped street children have enough to eat for the day and help them stay in school.

Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis distributing food relief to street children in Barangay (Village) Santo Nino Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines

Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis distributing food relief to street children in Barangay (Village) Santo Nino Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines

The Bayanihan Foundation partnered with multiple organizations including Filipino medical doctors who volunteered with the Medical Action Group (MAG) and provided emergency, medical relief to hundreds of typhoon victims.

Volunteer doctors from Medical Action Group provided much needed medical care

Volunteer doctors from Medical Action Group provided much-needed medical care

The Bayanihan Foundation also partnered with Murat Kose of the Zakat Foundation who immediately visited devastated areas in Leyte and with the tireless volunteers of the Visayas Mindanao Disaster Response Network in Cebu.

Volunteer members of the Visayas Disaster Response Network

Volunteer members of the Visayas Disaster Response Network

The Bayanhan Foundation also partnered with international volunteers including Anna Hastreiter of Germany and volunteers with the Filipino internet based Worldwide Filipino Alliance (WFA). A big thanks to donors like Barbara Dix and members of the Committee on Pilipino Issues (CPI) who were the first ones who donated so generously.  The foundation would like to thank the hundreds of generous donors who donated for emergency relief without being prompted or asked.

Volunteers including the Worldwide Filipino Alliance (WFA) handing out relief goods

Volunteers including the Worldwide Filipino Alliance (WFA) handing out relief goods

2. Impact to education and children

In August 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation donated 10 used laptop computers to Giporlos Central Elementary School, courtesy of Will Dix. In December 2014, the foundation is planning to donate 1,000 children books to the school and 10 used desktop computers to the Giporlos Central Trade High School, courtesy of donations from Will Dix, Linda Jamrozy and other donors. The foundation is planning hands-on computer training to the teachers and staff at these two schools so they could in turn train their students and improve teaching and productivity at these schools.

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

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

According to the United Nations International Children’s & Education Fund (UNICEF) October 2014 report, children were the ones severely affected by the super storm Haiyan with 5.9 million children suffered out of 14.1 million people affected. So the Bayanihan Foundation had been focusing its long-term recovery efforts into education and children.

3. Health and long-term sustainability

In 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation is planning to work with several key partners for long-term sustainability in health: 1) Rotary Club of Borongan in Eastern Samar; 2) the Philippine Provincial Health Office of Eastern Samar; and 3) several municipal and barangay (village) government officials including the Mayor of MacArthur, Eastern Samar, Jaime Ty.

(sitting far left); Rotary Club Borongan, Eastern Samar President Dr. Antoinete Cui with fellow Rotarians

(sitting far left); Rotary Club Borongan, Eastern Samar President Dr. Antoinette Cui with fellow Rotarians

(standing far left) Dr. Marian Isidero of Provincial Health Office of Eastern Samar Philippines looking over UNICEF WASH survey and objectives

(standing far left) Dr. Marian Isidero of Provincial Health Office of Eastern Samar Philippines looking over UNICEF WASH survey and objectives

(standing in center) Mayor Jaime Ty of MacArthur, Eastern Samar conducts town hall meeting about the need for latrines and meeting 'zero open defacation' goals

(standing in center) Mayor Jaime Ty of MacArthur, Eastern Samar conducts town hall meeting about the need for latrines and meeting ‘zero open defecation’ goals

The foundation would like to provide 1, 200 public and private latrines in over 10 towns and cities throughout Samar island, including Guian where typhoon Haiyan hit landfall. This will definitely contribute to the island’s ‘zero open defecation’ strategy and the UNICEF’s overall water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) long-term objectives.

Typhoon Haiyan, One Year and Beyond: Stay With the Philippines – Three Pleas for your Continued Support

Despite these short-term gains, the Bayanihan Foundation would like you to stay with the Philippines and continue your support on these three projects that will continue the road of long-term recovery:

1. Immediate relief to replace broken stained glass windows in a place of worship

(standing in center) Evelyn Castillo stands in front of broken stained glass windows of the Giporlos Church

(standing in center) Evelyn Castillo of the Bayanihan Foundation stands in front of broken stained glass windows of the Giporlos Church

Rainbow appears in the sky above Giporlos Church

Rainbow appears in the sky above Giporlos Church

Like many buildings that were left standing, the Giporlos Church was not spared. The church is in the middle of the town and is more than a place of worship. It also serves as a community and youth center with most of the town folk are predominantly Roman Catholic. Evelyn Castillo of the Bayanihan Foundation pleads for your continued engagement to stay with the Philippines and help rebuilt the broken stained glass windows. “We need just $500 total to help replace stained glass windows and make this place of worship a decent place again to contemplate and for youth and families to gather,” Evelyn said.

  • Would you donate $20 to repair at least one stained glass window pane? To donate securely online click HERE

2. ‘Backpack to Recovery’ education and  youth empowerment efforts

Bayanihan Foundation board member conducting permaculture workshop in Cebu, Philippines

Bayanihan Foundation board member James Castillo conducting permaculture workshop in Cebu, Philippines

Bayanihan Foundation board member James Castillo is leading a campaign to provide backpacks to youth and children in Cebu as symbolic and real tools for recovery and help children in their education and long-term efforts for recovery. In December 2014, James is also planning to conduct educational workshops for the youth on permaculture and sustainability and to plant thousands of mangrove seedlings in the area.

  • Would you donate $50 to help conduct one educational workshop to youth on sustainability and permaculture and help plan mangrove seedlings? To donate securely on this online crowd fundraising campaign click HERE

3. 1,200 latrines in Eastern Samar on the road to hygiene and ‘zero open defecation’

(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

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

In August 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation successfully installed two latrines in Iligan, Philippines in partnership with the Rotary Chicago Far North, the Rotary Iligan East and with my uncle and aunt, Dr. Vicente and Mrs. Luz Saavedra. In 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation would like to duplicate this successful effort in a big way by building 1,200 public and private latrines in Eastern Samar to contribute to the UNICEF WASH efforts of ‘zero open defecation’.

  • Would you donate $100 to build one latrine, promote hygiene and end open defecation? To donate securely online click HERE

The Bayanihan Foundation needs you to stay with the Philippines and to continue your help and support.

Posted in Diaspora Donors, Disaster Relief, Philippines | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

‘The Adorables’ Demonstrate The Bayanihan Spirit is Alive and Well


“As a familiar story goes, one can leave a basket full of crabs and not worry that a single one of them can ever climb out of it and escape the cooking pan.  The moment one succeeds in pulling itself up an inch, there will be a dozen claws that will make sure it doesn’t make it to the top.” (Mejorada: The Filipino Express, 1996)

Filipino crab mentality

Crab mentality is the desire to outdo, outshine or surpass another (often of one’s same ethnic group) at the other’s expense.

I would like to share my personal story on how I evolved from pessimism to optimism, on how Filipinos could overcome deep fragmentation and distrust among each other called ‘crab mentality’. This story renewed my hope on the Filipino community spirit of giving.  The Bayanihan spirit is alive and well.  Four Filipinas, they nicknamed themselves the ‘Adorables’, bonded and worked hard to put together a terrific fundraising party, to raise funds to build a hospital lobby in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines in memory of the late Peter Aldeza. They are a living testament that Filipinos could overcome the cultural challenge of ‘crab mentality’ and worked together in Bayanihan, for the common good.

(left to right): Dr. Dorothy Anoina, Eva Torres, Aurora Gagni, Carminda Aldeza and Dale Asis

Filipina women working together in Bayanihan spirit (left to right): Dr. Dorothy Anoina, Eva Torres, Aurora Gagni, and Carminda Aldeza, with Dale Asis

In 2010, I was confronted with intense cultural challenges that I did not expect in my endeavors to raise funds for community projects for the Philippines. These cultural challenges include intense competition among Filipinos and the pervasive ‘crab mentality’ (Nadal: Filipino Psychology, 2009).  Crab mentality is the desire to outdo, outshine or surpass another (often of one’s same ethnic group) at the other’s expense.  These challenges include fragmentation and distrust and intense competition. I’ve realized that these cultural challenges run deep and might be the main reason Filipinos are not unified to face together larger community challenges including combating poverty in the Philippines, the big gap in income between the rich and the poor and increasing out-migration. Without any solution in mind, I began to accept the crab mentality thinking and just soldier on.

However, in Sept 2014, four Filipinas (Carminda Aldeza, Dr. Dorothy Anoina, Aurora Gagni and Eva Torres) changed my perception from pessimism to optimism. These women gave me hope that Filipinos after all could overcome crab mentality challenge. They recruited 20 other women to help – Ate (older sister) Sally, Ate Chit, Ate Aurora, Ate Aurora, Ate Sionie, Ruth Banatin, Christine Krogmann and countless others, including my mother.  They put together the best party of the year – a Hawaiian ‘luau’ theme party replete with grass skirts, leis, tiki torches, a roast pig ‘lechon’ and the Aloha spirit.

Hawaiian theme 'luau' food buffet

Hawaiian theme ‘luau’ food buffet

Ate Sally managed to post next to the Aloha sign. She volunteered for hours to cook and serve the food for 150 people.

Ate Sally managed to post next to the Aloha sign. She volunteered for hours to prepare and helped serve food for 150 people.

However, this luau was not just any party.  These women put together a party in honor of my late cousin, Peter Aldeza, who died suddenly of a heart attack. Peter left behind a legacy of goodwill, generosity and kindness in all the people that he touched including me. His wife, Carminda Aldeza, found a folder in his files with his plans to build a charity hospital in his hometown in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines. My name was written on top of the folder. For the past year, I have contemplated on what to do to fulfill my late cousin’s wishes. In 2013, I went to visit Pete’s hometown, Calamba, Laguna and found out that the only charity hospital in town did not even have a proper hospital lobby. All indigent patients have to wait out in a makeshift shed with a few corrugated metal sheets attached together as a roof and a few slabs of wood as benches. I’m glad that it was a nice sunny day when I visited. I wondered what happens when it rains and you have to wait out in the open?

Makeshift hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital

Makeshift hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital

Woman waiting in Calamba hospital

Woman carrying her infant in her arms while waiting in the makeshift hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital

So I shared this project idea with Carminda Aldeza. She liked it and immediately got to work and recruited other Filipinas to help her. It all happened so fast. I thought that the party was going to be a small get together honoring my late cousin Peter but it turned out to be the best of the year honoring his memory, his goodwill and his legacy. But most of all, Carminda and the legion of volunteer Filipinas called ‘Adorables’ were the highlight of the party. They demonstrated the four golden Filipino values of:

  • Tiwala’ (trust)
  • Kabalikat’ (interdependence, sharing responsibilities)
  • Pagkakaisa’ (mutuality, helping each other)
  • Tradisyon’ (traditional values of helping ‘bayanihan’)
The family of the late Peter Aldeza (left to right): Jeff Krogmann, Christine Krogmann with baby Penelope, Carminda Aldeza, Carminda's father, Brian Aldeza

The family of the late Peter Aldeza (left to right): Jeff Krogmann, Christine Krogmann with baby Penelope, Carminda Aldeza, Carminda’s father, Brian Aldeza

Honoring Peter Aldeza (left to right): Dale Asis and Carminda Aldeza

Honoring Peter Aldeza (left to right): Dale Asis and Carminda Aldeza

This fundraising party was a success maybe because of the goodwill that Peter left behind. It was successful maybe because of the wonderful food, decorations and ambience of a fun Hawaiian feast. It was successful maybe because four Filipinas, the ‘Adorables’ bonded, worked hard together and recruited other women to show the wonderful spirit of Bayanihan, helping each other. In the end, the indigent patients of Calamba, Philippines will benefit with an upcoming new hospital lobby where they could wait in comfort and not out in the open.  I have indeed renewed my spirit that the Bayanihan spirit of community giving is alive and well.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Philippines, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Three Years Later: Revisiting Clark Philippines and Thousands of Filipino Amerasians Left Behind, Still Struggling


In 2011, I visited Clark, Philippines, the former US military base in the Philippines and it became the largest American base overseas during the height of the Vietnam War.

Map of Clark, former US military bases in the Philippines

Map of Clark, former US military bases in the Philippines

In 2011, Mark Gilbore, a Filipino Amerasian, was my tour guide of the infamous Clark’s red light district, “Fields Ave.” with its infamous girlie bars and nightclubs.  In August 2014, three years later, I’ve met up again with Mark Gilbore in Clark, Philippines. A lot of things has changed at the same time a lot of things stayed the same, including the increasing poverty of the thousands of Filipino Amerasians left behind.  I will share my personal thoughts and impressions of seeing Clark, Philippines three years later and the plight of the thousands of Filipino Amerasians left behind.

Mark Gilbore (standing on the right) gives Dale Asis (on the left) a tour of Angeles City's red light district with the infamous bar girls standing outside the bars (2011)

Mark Gilbore (standing on the right) gives Dale Asis (on the left) a tour of Angeles City’s red light district with the infamous bar girls standing outside the bars (2011)

In 2011, I remembered walking down Fields Ave. with Mark and I was surprised by the thriving nightclub scene in Clark, Philippines. I thought those girlie bars disappeared in 1991 when the US military withdrew from Clark.  I was wrong. Both sides of the street of Fields Ave. were lined up with bustling night clubs and girlie bars.  Scantily clad Filipino women were posing in front of the bars and were calling passersby to come inside their bar for a drink. Three years ago, I remembered many of the clubs at that time were getting ready for ‘Australian Night’ as many older Australian male tourists frequented the area. In 2014, not much has changed. The girlie clubs are still thriving with older male tourists and this time men not just from Australia are coming but also from Western Europe and the US.  In 2012, the Philippine government under pressure from Chinese claims to the Philippine Seas, agreed to the return of American forces to Clark.  When the Philippines kicked out the US military in 1992, US servicemen left at least 50,000 Filipino Amerasian children. But none has been recognized as American, despite US paternity (Al Jazeera: April 2014).  In contrast, Amerasians from other countries including Vietnam, Thailand and Japan were recognized and offered US citizenship.

In 2011, the Bayanihan Foundation partnered with Wedpro, a local Philippine non-governmental organization (NGO) to help established the group, United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) a group of young Filipino Amerasians to speak on their own behalf.  For the last three years, I am proud of the accomplishments of the young Filipino Amerasians and the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA) but the same I’m sad that their plight as a whole has not improved. In August 2014, I’ve met with the young leaders of United Philippine Amerasians Christine Jackson and Mark Gilbore.

Meeting with Filipino Amerasians: (left to right: Mark Gilbore, Christine Jackson, Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis) (2o14)

Meeting with Filipino Amerasians: (left to right: Mark Gilbore, Christine Jackson, Evelyn Castillo and Dale Asis) (2o14)

In 2014, the Bayanihan Foundation has sponsored successful 4th of July and Filipino Amerasian Day celebrations honoring the accomplishment and recognition of Filipino Amerasians in the area.  Christine Jackson, one of leaders of UPA, has secured a job at a local call center in Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines. Mark Gilbore, recently got married and has a new baby girl. However, Mark and many Filipino Amerasians continue to be unemployed.  They face relentless discrimination and racism. In a Catholic society that stigmatize illegitimate children, Filipinos deploy an arsenal of slurs against Amerasians: iniwan ng barko (“left by the ship”) and babay sa daddy (“goodbye to Daddy”) among them. Black Amerasians are often called “charcoal,” or worse (Lapinig, Forgotten Amerasians: New York Times, May 2013).  Many Amerasians also struggled to finish high school and are often employed with low waged jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. I saw some Filipino Amerasians panhandling and begging for food. I saw one Amerasian helping parked cars and working for coin tips to earn a living.

Filipino Amerasian (center wearing red cap) helping parked cars for tips as a means to earn a living (2014)

Filipino Amerasian (center wearing red cap) helping parked cars for tips to earn a living (2014)

For the last three years, I don’t think that the plight of Filipino Amerasians has improved despite the Bayanihan Foundation’s meager efforts to help.  The policy advocacy outreach in the US has not increased and the Filipino Amerasians continue to be forgotten.  I encouraged both Christine and Mark to continue their outreach and education efforts for Filipino Amerasians to be heard and publish the hundreds of personal stories and photos they collected. I also encouraged them and other Filipino Amerasians to enroll in the Philippines’ Alternative Learning System (ALS), a government program that offers a laddered, modular non-formal education program for dropouts in elementary and secondary schools, out-of-school youths. It is part of the education system of the Philippines but an alternative to the regular classroom studies where Filipino students are required to attend daily.  The Bayanihan Foundation could help support some Filipino Amerasians with educational stipends so they could complete their education, learn a skill and earn a better living. The Bayanihan Foundation will also continue to spread the word in the US and hopefully advocate to change US policies to welcome Amerasians in the US like their other counterparts in Southeast Asia.

Filipino Amerasian leaders of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA): (left to right

Filipino Amerasian leaders of the United Philippine Amerasians (UPA): (left to right: Christine Jackson and Mark Gilbore)

Posted in Amerasians, Diaspora Giving, Philippine poverty | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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 , , | 3 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.

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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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