Take Your Giving To The Next Level: Establish a Donor Advised Fund


Excerpts of this blog entry come from the World Economic Forum article “How to Encourage Philanthropy in the Diasporas” (June 2015)

Diversity and Philanthropy Book Cover (courtesy of Amazon.com)

Since 2010, the Bayanihan Foundation has been encouraging giving locally and globally to the Philippines. The foundation realizes that Diasporas are increasingly garnering attention as contributors to economic and social development in their countries of origin. Remittances from international migrants to developing countries alone are three times the amount of official development assistance. Diasporas have both the desire and capacity to invest in larger efforts to effect change (Why Diaspora Investing is a Burgeoning Trend). However, there are barriers to giving. The Bayanihan Foundation tries to bridge those barriers by bridging the gap of the lack of information in local and global giving; addressing the challenges in giving; and  providing the niche for a financial intermediary. Many donors would value transparency, tax deductions, and the ability to invest in sustainable efforts. Perhaps the solution is a well-established IRS philanthropic vehicle called a donor advised fund (DAF), which can be tailored to appeal to the diaspora donor.

Eight Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1.What is a donor advised fund? Donor advised funds are charitable giving vehicles administered by public charities into which donors can make tax-deductible donations. A portion of the assets leave the DAF in the form of grants to qualified nonprofits that the Bayanihan Foundation partners with locally or globally in the Philippines. Then the Bayanihan Foundation makes grant recommendations and direct the donors’ giving to their particular interest. The rest of the assets are reinvested in securities until they are recommended for grants. DAFs in the U.S. hold nearly $54 billion in assets.

Planned homes in Dingle, Iloilo sponsored by the PFK Family Foundation (January 2015)

2.Does the Bayanihan Foundation have experienced carrying out a donor advised fund? Yes, the Bayanihan Foundation has carried well the wishes and interests of donors. In 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation helped carry out the construction of planned homes in Dingle, Iloilo sponsored by the PFK Family Foundation.

Covered emergency lobby of Calamba Municipal Hospital, courtesy of the donations of ‘The Adorables’ and the many donors of the Bayanihan Foundation (August 2017)

 

In 2016, the Bayanihan Foundation carried the wishes of the donations of “The Adorables” and other donors led by Carminda Aldeza in funding for the emergency lobby and waiting area at the Calamba Municipal Hospital.

 

 

3.What is the advantage of the Bayanihan Foundation donor advised fund in comparison to the big charitable trusts?

The largest donor advised funds (DAFs) are managed by the charitable trusts of Schwab, Vanguard, and Fidelity, with the majority of their grants going to domestic nonprofits and their assets being invested in U.S. securities. Often times, the donation just becomes an impersonal, financial transaction. On the other hand, you can direct your donation to a Bayanihan Foundation donor advised fund and reflect your personal interests. Your donor advised fund will give you the right, altruistic feeling and a longer, lasting legacy to your gift.

For some taxpayers, it may make sense to accelerate several years of charitable contributions into this year (Wall Street Journal, Dec 2017)

4.Why give to a donor advised fund?  Forming a donor advised fund will give you the tax effectiveness especially after the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Trump tax cuts). A donor advised fund maximizes your deduction and be good for business as well (Minimize Taxes Using Donor Advised Funds, Forbes Magazine, August 2018). Please consult your tax advisor for details. A DAF will also provide you the flexibility and convenience. It also makes good financial sense. Your donation will go through a registered public charity like the Bayanihan Foundation that will ensure transparency and proper governance of your donation.

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

5. Where will you direct my giving? You will see up close that your donation is making a difference. For instance, a portion of assets could be allocated to a humanitarian assistance fund so that in the event of a future typhoon or earthquake. Your donor advised fund (DAF) could also be used to address environmental concerns and climate change. You could direct your giving to a particular island or town in the Philippines and address infrastructure development including wells, latrines or housing. Your donation could also be directed for educational and/ or policy outreach causes including the toxic clean up of the former US bases in the Philippines or relief to the thousands of Filipino Amerasians left behind in Clark and Subic bases. The Bayanihan Foundation has the local knowledge and networks to make your directed giving make an impact.

6.How will I know that my donor advised fund is making a difference? Unlike in a big charitable trust or a large brokerage firm, you will not just be a number. You will have hands-on and direct interaction to your giving. You will be informed in all aspects of the strategic grant making process. The foundation will make grants to local NGOs and invest DAF assets in the Philippines or locally in the US. The Bayanihan Foundation provides you personal, invaluable access to your giving.

7.How much do I need to give to establish a donor advised fund? You can give as little as $5,000 to establish your own donor advised fund. The Bayanihan Foundation also charges the least amount to cover its administrative costs. The foundation will maximize your donation to go towards the program and invest more in local economic and social development.

Dale Asis (right) showing off a different variety of bananas he has not tried (March 2016)

8.Who do I need to contact to establish a donor advised fund? Please contact the Bayanihan Foundation President Mr. Dale Asis, dasis@fdnbayanihan.org or call at (773) 273-9793 if you have any questions or would like to establish your own donor advised fund (DAF).

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Balangiga Bells On Their Way Home


Major excerpts of this blog entry came from the ABS-CBN New Report, November 12, 2018

The Church Bells of Balangiga now in Ft. Russell, WY

After more than a century, the church bells taken by the US Army from Balangiga, Eastern Samar in 1901 will be returned to the Philippines.

“This will mark the beginning of the journey of the 2 Wyoming bells back to the church from which they were taken. The Wyoming bells will now be able to begin their journey home,” the prominent Eastern Visayas historian Dr. Rolando Borrinaga of the Committee on Historical Research of National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) said.

The third Balangiga bell at an US Army museum in South Korea, Borrinaga said, had also been crated and is ready for repatriation.

“The latest successful campaign for the return of the Bells of Balangiga was largely a veterans-to-veterans effort. The Bayanihan Foundation also advocated with many Filipino American organizations also advocated for the bells’ return. So many in the U.S. veterans community have let their voices be known and lent their support – including National Resolutions of support from both the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion,” he said.

The bells will be refurbished first before they are repatriated. Details of their arrival in the Philippines have yet to be announced.

Depiction of Balangiga Massacre, painting at Tanuan, Batangas (August 2017)

Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Malacanang Palace welcomes the repatriation of the Balangiga bells.

“The President himself, in his second State of the Nation Address, expressed his desire for the return of these bells explaining that they form part of our country’s patrimony and they were taken at the cost of bloodshed of thousands of Filipinos,” he said in a statement.

The Palace, however, declined to comment further until the bells are delivered.

He said, “In the words of the President himself: “It ain’t here until it’s here.”

Balangiga Church, Balangiga, Samar (June 2018 photo)

In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address, called for the return of the church bells taken during the Philippine-American war.  “Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage,” Philippine President Duterte said.

In August 2018, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed documents favoring the return of the war booties to the Philippines. US President Donald Trump earlier signed the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, which gives Mattis the authority to decide on the return of the Balangiga bells.

Posted in colonialism, history, Philippines | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

2018 NEXTGEN Camillo Geaga Inspired In More Ways Than One


Camillo Geaga proudly holds up his Associates Degree diploma from Los Angeles City Colleges (November 2018)

In 2018, Camillo Geaga joined the NEXTGEN Travel Fellowship program and he visited the Philippines for the second time. During his recent trip, Camillo was inspired to complete his Associate Degree at the Los Angeles City College. He was inspired more ways than one. In 2019, Camillo plans to continue his education at the California State University Northridge and achieve his bachelors degree in Public Health.

Teachers looked on as Evelyn Castillo (standing middle) and Camillo Geaga (standing far right) look over the donated books for two elementary schools in Giporlos, Samar (September 2018)

During his trip to the Philippines in 2018, Camillo joined the Bayanihan Foundation in donating thousands of books to elementary schools in Giporlos, Samar.

(left to right) Venise Castillo and Camillo Geaga visits Pintuyan, Panaon Island, Leyte hoping to see whale sharks (September 2018)

 

 

 

 

Camillo also visited Pintuyan, Leyte hoping to see whale sharks but unfortunately it was not the migratory season for whales at that time.

Camillo Geaga visits Kabacsanan Falls in Iligan City (September 2018)

 

 

 

Camillo Geaga also visited Iligan City and visited my aunt and uncle, Dr. Vicente and Mrs. Luz Saavedra. He got a chance to see the city of waterfalls and swam at the Kabacsanan Falls, one of the many majestic waterfalls in Iligan.

Camillo Geaga is not the only one inspired by his trip to the Philippines. Vicky Geaga, Camillo’s mother was also motivated to encourage her friends and family to donate to Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide. “I’ve chosen this nonprofit because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope you’ll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me. Every little bit will help me reach my goal,” Vicky Geaga said on a recent Facebook post.

Giving Tuesday is on November 27, 2018. Consider supporting Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide. 95% of your donations go directly to programs like NEXTGEN and other philanthropic projects locally and globally including environmental issues, quality of life, health care, literacy all in a spirit of giving back to the community.

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Balikbayan Boxes: Symbols of Homesickness, Colonial History, and Family


(Major excerpts of this blog entry came from the Los Angeles Times article, “These boxes are a billion-dollar industry of homesickness for Filipinos overseas” by Frank Shyong, April 2018)

Will Dix packing thousands of books into balikbayan boxes (September 2018)

On September 2018, Will Dix and I packed thousands of used books bound for in Giporlos, Samar, and Iligan City, Lanao del Norte. Today balikbayan boxes, named after the Tagalog word for a returning Filipino, have become one of the most enduring symbols of the Filipino diaspora. The boxes help feed relatives who are struggling, console daughters separated from their mothers, and give far-flung overseas workers a tangible tether to their families.

My mother and my cousins always send these balikbayan boxes back home. As Will and I were sending these balikbayan boxes full of books to set up libraries in the islands, how many of these balikbayan boxes do Filipinos send back to the Philippines every year?  What are inside most of these boxes? And why do they keep sending these boxes full of stuff back to the Philippines?

How many balikbayan boxes are sent to the Philippines year?

With over 10 million Filipinos working abroad in the US and around the world, at least 400,000 balikbayan boxes are sent every month, according to the Door to Door Consolidated Assn. of the Philippines. That’s approximately 4.8 million balikbayan boxes every year becoming a billion dollar industry. The number of boxes being sent drastically increases during the holiday season.

These boxes are a billion-dollar industry of homesickness for Filipinos overseasAmy Guzman, who will be visiting her family in the Philippines, packs two balikbayan boxes full of things such as toothpaste, Spam, hand-me down clothes and rice at her home in Long Beach. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times, April 2018)

What’s inside a typical balikbayan box?

The balikbayan boxes are usually packed with gifts such as Kirkland chocolates, hand-me-down clothes and Spam for relatives overseas.  Amy Guzman, who will be visiting her family in the Philippines, displays the contents of the two balikbayan boxes she will take to her family (Los Angeles Times, April 2018). Here’s what’s inside:

Chocolate: Chocolates, and many other kinds of sweets, are one of the most common balikbayan box items. Common brands like Snickers and M&M’s are highly desirable, and more expensive candy brands like Ferrero Rocher are comparatively affordable in the U.S., and they can be purchased cheaply, in bulk, at American stores like Costco.

Colgate, Crest and Secret deodorant: American brands like Colgate and Crest seem like mundane inclusions, but they are especially desirable in the Philippines, where a history of U.S. colonization has shaped consumer tastes.

Clothes: Many balikbayan boxes contain new or used clothing for relatives in the Philippines, often contributed by relatives in the U.S. And U.S. shoe brands like Nike and Adidas win fashion points with young people, because certain models released in the U.S. aren’t available in the Philippines.

Purses, perfumes and makeup: Boxes also contain more traditional gifts from overseas Filipinos who want to share their relative wealth with their less fortunate family members back home. The peak of the balikbayan box season is always Christmas.

Backpack, towels and sheets: A balikbayan box is typically preceded by weeks of communication between overseas Filipinos and their relatives in the Philippines to try to learn about the needs and wants of each of their family members. Guzman has included a backpack, towels and a comforter according to her family’s needs.

The boxes: Large door-to-door balikbayan box companies like Atlas, Forex, LBC, and Starkargo have professionalized the practice of sending balikbayan boxes via shipping container or airmail. Shipping a box costs anywhere from $40 to $80, and it’s often cheaper to send boxes to the Philippines through these services than it is to send it across the street using U.S. carriers.

 

The contents of Amy Guzman’s two balikbayan boxes at her home in Long Beach, CA.

Allen J. Schaben / April 2018, Los Angeles Times

Why send these balikbayan boxes in the first place?

“This is the Filipino way. You can’t go home without a box,” Marie Maruquin of Los Angeles replied.

“There are many who spend their entire lives as caregivers, and the boxes are sometimes their only remnant of a home in the Filipino community,” said Anthony Ocampo, a professor of sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and the author of “The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race.”

The 1970s brought high unemployment to the Philippines and a state-sponsored effort to export labor around the world. Thousands of Filipinos like De La Cruz accepted vast distances from their families as a requirement for survival.

For many overseas Filipinos, balikbayan boxes became the best way to bridge that distance. De La Cruz, who worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong, scrimped and saved to put dresses, chocolates and toys in her children’s care packages.

The practice was formalized by an official government initiative to encourage returning Filipinos, or balikbayans, to spend their foreign wages at home in the Philippines. Tourism officials offered reduced airfares on the then-government-owned Philippines Airlines, hotel discounts, tax breaks and, most important, generous baggage allowances.

Returning foreign workers, who earned far more than their relatives could back home, needed to bring so many gifts that they soon quit using luggage in favor of large cardboard boxes, which could be packed to the very limit of an airline’s weight allowance.

The balikbayan promotion was supposed to last only six months, but the profitable initiative was extended repeatedly until it became permanent. In 1987, the government officially waived taxes and duties on goods in balikbayan boxes. Around that time, in Los Angeles and other Filipino enclaves in the U.S., entrepreneurs like Rico Nunga, 60, began to offer door-to-door delivery of balikbayan boxes to the Philippines for between $40 to $80 — cheaper than it would cost to send a box across the street. Nunga, who founded one of the first door-to-door companies in 1985, said the box sizes were set large to maximize the space inside standard shipping containers.

Balikbayan boxes shaped by history, colonialism and Filipino ideas about family

The contents of a balikbayan box are shaped by history, colonialism and Filipino ideas about family. But much of it can actually be found at Costco.

American-made or American-sold products are highly coveted. Vending machine standbys such as M&M’s, Snickers, Twix and Reese’s convey status upon relatives in the Philippines because they’re American products, which are seen as higher-quality, special-occasion foods. Colgate toothpaste, Spam and corned beef are big.

Decades of U.S colonization and influence made many Filipinos avid consumers of American culture and products, Professor Ocampo said. Generations grow up under a public education system established by an American government that uses English as the official language of instruction. And American products bound for Asian markets flowed through the Philippines and found customers in Filipinos, Ocampo said.

But boxes are more than just vessels for pasalubong, the Tagalog term for souvenirs for relatives. “The boxes show our feelings,” Jennifer Virgines of Thousand Oaks, CA said.

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The Philippines Ranked Third In the World Most Vulnerable to Climate Change


Devastated countryside in Samar after Typhoon Haiyan (2015)

Excerpts from this blog entry came from the “HSBC Fragile Planet: Scoring Planet Risks Around the World” Report (April 2018).

All countries are being impacted by climate change but some are facing much more acute challenges than others. The “HSBC Fragile Planet: Scoring Planet Risks Around the World” Report cited the Philippines as the third highest ranking country vulnerable to climate change. India, followed by Pakistan ranked as the top two most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world. Countries from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa are also in this group. The report looked into which countries are most vulnerable to climate change – in terms of both the physical impacts and the associated energy transition risks – and which are better placed to respond to these pressures. It seems that the Philippines is not completely ready (Philstar Global, March 2018).

Climate change manifests through rising temperatures, can alter hydrological (water) cycles and exacerbates extreme weather events. In turn this means higher risks to energy, food and water systems, populations and the global economy. Over 2030 to 2050, the World Health Organisation (WHO) expects 250,000 additional deaths per year due to climate change.

Climate Change is Real

On the day that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we only have 12 years left to prevent climate catastrophe, an American climate economist cited heavily in the IPCC’s report has been named one of the two winners of this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences (World Economic Forum, October 2018).

Many critics agree that climate change is happening and will affect cities and countries around the world including the Philippines. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, surrounded by naturally warm waters that will likely get even warmer as average sea-surface temperatures continue to rise.

To some extent, this is a normal pattern: the ocean surface warms as it absorbs sunlight. The ocean then releases some of its heat into the atmosphere, creating wind and rain clouds. However, as the ocean’s surface temperature increases over time from the effects of climate change, more and more heat is released into the atmosphere. This additional heat in the ocean and air can lead to stronger and more frequent storms – which is exactly what we’ve seen in the Philippines over the last decade.

Geography

The Philippines also lacks natural barriers; as a collection of over 7,000 islands there is almost nothing standing between them and the sea. In addition to their coral reefs, one of the best buffers against typhoons are the Philippine mangrove ecosystems. These mangroves help mitigate the impact of storm surge and stabilize soil but have disappeared by almost half since 1918 due to deforestation (an issue for another day).  Since 2010, the Bayanihan Foundation has been planting over 30,000 mangrove seedlings in Liloan, Cebu to combat deforestation and climate change.

(standing second from right): James Castillo, foundation board member, leads youth participants in planting mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines

(standing second from right): James Castillo, foundation board member, leads youth participants in planting mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines

Other natural factors, like regional wind patterns or currents, can also increase the risk of tropical storms. Geography again plays a role here, as these factors affect different areas of the country differently, due to their unique circumstances. The graphic below from a report by the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources shows how the various regions in the Philippines can face a range of climate threats, based on where they sit on the map.

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Development

Developmental factors have made it difficult for the Philippines to prepare and respond to disasters. Evacuation plans, early warning systems, and shelters are critical to dealing with extreme weather events. Warning and relocating thousands or millions of citizens when a storm is approaching would be a massive hurdle for any country – and in the case of a developing nation like the Philippines with nearly 100 million citizens spread out across thousands of islands, the hurdle becomes bigger still.Then there’s what these storms mean for the Philippines’ economy. According to a 2013 statement from government officials, a destructive typhoon season costs the nation two percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). It costs another two percent to rebuild the infrastructure lost, putting the Philippines at least four percent in the hole each year from tropical storms. And when you’re a nation aspiring to grow and create better lives for your citizens, this regular hit to the economy is the last thing you can afford.

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

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

This is not an easy problem to fix, but we need to try. The first step is educating citizens both in the Philippines and around the world about what the nation is facing, and about the practical clean-energy solutions available that can begin to address the harmful effects of climate change in the Philippines and beyond.

Since 2010, Bayanihan Foundation led by board member James Castillo has been conducting youth leadership and education workshops on environmental sustainability and climate change. In the Philippines, where half the mangrove forests have been lost to development, biologists are replanting the trees to recreate nature’s protective coastal shield against deadly typhoons. The gnarled tangle of mangrove roots slows the movement of tidal waters, reducing the impact of storm surges and waves (National Geographic Magazine, October 2018).

Mangroves alive and well in Liloan, Cebu protecting fish and wildlife (September 2018)

The Bayanihan Foundation took small but important steps to plant over 30,000 mangroves in Liloan, Cebu that are doing its part in fighting climate change. Support the Bayanihan Foundation and its efforts to combat climate change on the ground by donating to the foundation and clicking this LINK.

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Free Film Showing November 4 in LA: “Vapor Trail Clark” The Unfinished Business of Toxic Contamination Left Behind


Water buffaloes and children playing at a polluted stream, Pampanga, Philippines (cover photo of the documentary Vapor Trail Clark)

On November 24, 1992, the US lowered the American flag on Clark and Subic bases in the Philippines, the US largest military installations outside the continental US. 26 years later, the US still has unfinished business of cleaning up the toxic contamination left behind in the US former bases in the Philippines.

On November 4, 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation will co-sponsor a free film showing of John Gianvito’s “Vapor Trail Clark“, a four-hour and 25 minute long documentary of researchers investigating the U.S. military’s environmental contamination of the abandoned bases in the Philippines. The film screening will be held at the Pilipino Workers Center, 153 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026.  The free film screening will be held from 12 PM till 5 PM, with a half hour merienda break in-between. Filipino snacks and refreshments will be served.

Myrla Baldonado standing in front of a Korean multinational factory in Clark Freeport Zone (2011)

Guest speaker, Myrla Baldonado, will talk about her two decades as the founding Director of the People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up. Her personal story in fighting to clean up the toxic wastes left behind also became the main highlight of the documentary, “Vapor Trail Clark.” Myrla relentlessly advocated for the victims of toxic contamination and for the environmental clean up of both Clark and Subic bases. Ms. Baldonado lobbied for research studies that confirmed serious environmental and health problems in these areas.  In addition, the People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up also provided medical help to over a thousand victims of contamination.

(standing far right) Myrla Baldonado with members of Saup in Clark, Pampanga (2013)

Documentary filmmaker John Gianvito produced and directed the film, “Vapor Trail Clark.” He initially found out about the contamination issue at Clark and Subic from a news article he read in the Boston Globe.  The film examines how and why the former US Air Force (USAF) Base in Clark became an environmental disaster area and what can be done to help the people of Luzon Island. Vapor Trail (Clark) was an official selection at the 2010 Rotterdam International Film Festival. Myrla Baldonado will also conduct a brief discussion after the film screening. Please RSVP by emailing Myrla Baldonado myrla@fdnbayanihan.org

Mural portraying the toxic contamination left behind by the US former military bases in the Philippines

“Being able to continue working on this unfinished task for the Philippine environment and the health of the Filipino people affected by the toxic contamination is one of the many rewards of continuing this fight,” Myrla Baldonado said.

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Five Years Later: Evelyn Castillo Sees Mangrove Forests Growing, Successes And Challenges


(standing far right) James Castlllo leads youth workshop in envrionmental conservation and renewal and in planting mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines

(standing far right) James Castillo leads youth workshop in environmental conservation and renewal and in planting mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines (2013)

On January 2013, Bayanihan Foundation board member James Castillo went to Liloan, Cebu, Philippines, where he led a youth workshop and planted thousands of mangrove seedlings as part of the foundation’s projects for environmental renewal and sustainability.  For the next five years, the Bayanihan Foundation supported a fisher folk community in Liloan, Cebu and continued planting thousands of mangrove seedlings there. The fisher folk community formed a self-help organization called PAKAMA (Pakigbisug sa Kabus nga Mananagat/ Poor Fishermen’s Struggle) in Barangay Calero. The youth also formed their own organization, “Youth for Nationalism and Democracy” (YND) Liloan chapter as part of their leadership development. Since then, the Bayanihan Foundation has supported the planting of 30,000 mangrove seedlings and the training of hundreds of youth in environmental leadership to fight climate change.

Youth participants plant mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants plant mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines (2015)

On September 2018, Bayanihan Foundation Liaison Evelyn Castillo went back to Liloan, Cebu and revisited the thousands of mangrove seedlings planted. Evelyn was pleasantly surprised to see some of the mangrove seedlings to have bloomed into fully matured mangrove trees that now protects the cove and sustains more fish and wildlife.

Fisher folk community leader from PAKAMA, and Evelyn Castillo, Bayanihan Foundation Liaison (September 2018)

Return to Paradise, Paying it Forward

The fisher folk community of PAKAMA have protected the mangrove seedlings and helped them mature into mangrove forests despite the imminent threat of commercial resorts and modern development nearby. The fisher folk community understood that the mangrove forests serve as an important part of their survival. The mangroves serve as a nesting ground for marine life. The fisher folk knew that if the mangrove forest disappear, their livelihood will also eventually disappear.

Mangroves alive and well in Liloan, Cebu protecting fish and wildlife (September 2018)

Evelyn Castillo also have spoken to some of the past participants of the youth group, “Youth for Nationalism and Democracy” (YND) Liloan chapter. They described how invaluable was the leadership development trainings they have participated.

The mangroves that were planted five years ago have now grown. They are showing plenty of leaves and some have matured to be fully grown mangrove forests. Mangrove trees grow slowly and takes years to mature.  Planting mangroves is also not easy. Despite the years of planting mangroves and the hard work of the fisher folk community, these efforts will go to waste if the government decides to give the land to investors who do not care about sustainable development. Can we do something to declare these areas as permanent mangrove forests for environmental sustainability?

The fisher folk community in Liloan also continue to face other challenges. Unfortunately, the local fisher folk organization do not have strong allies and many are still struggling to earn a decent living. They don’t have a lot of resources to fight big commercial developers and corporations who want to convert the forest into urban development.  Some of the local politicians do not care if the mangroves get converted to commercial properties.  Some of the people who live on the island also do not care if the mangroves get chopped down just because they do not directly depend on fishing as a means of livelihood.

Despite these problems, the growth of the mangroves have stopped for now the bulldozing of  the mangrove forests. Some local political leaders have also spoken up to support the mangrove forests. Ms. Nida Cabrera, an environmental legislator in Cebu City said during her visit during the Pagbabalik (Coming Home) workshop, ” It is time we start looking at preventing environmental disasters before it destroys lives and property.”

The Bayanihan Foundation hopes to continue working with the Visayas Mindanao People’s Resource Development Center (VMPRDC) and plan together on how to sustain the progress that’s been made.  The fisher folk in Liloan continue to be hard at work in protecting the environment despite their meager access to resources. The Bayanihan Foundation urges its donors, supporters, and Filipinos in the diaspora to continue supporting this important work.

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines (2015)

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