In Memory of Aurora Gagni – Humanitarian, Supporter of Bayanihan Foundation


‘The Adorables’ throwing a successful fundraiser in 2014: (left to right): Dr. Dorothy Anoina, Eva Torres, Aurora Gagni, Carminda Aldeza and Dale Asis)

(Excerpts of this blog entry came from the Chicago Tribune article “Local doctor, nurse among medical mission group killed in Philippines van crash” January 22, 2018)

On October 2014, Aurora Gagni was part of the “Adorables,” a successful fundraiser benefiting the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide that raised funds for a waiting area for indigent patients in Calamba, Laguna.  Unfortunately, on January 21, 2018, Aurora and seven other passengers were killed when the driver of their tour van in Cebu, Philippines fell asleep on the wheel.  Local police said, and informed investigators that the van driver had slept only one hour the previous night. Aurora was part of a group of about 100 Filipino-American medical staff who had traveled to the Philippines for a three-day medical mission.

The Bayanihan Foundation and the Filipino American community in Chicago will miss Aurora Gagni tremendously for her generosity and big heart in helping others. In 2014, Aurora joined a group of dedicated women that called themselves “Adorables” with Eva Torres, Dr. Dorothy Anoina, and Carminda B. Aldeza. They successfully raised thousands of dollars that the foundation directed to build two hospital lobby areas in Calamba, Laguna.

Renovated hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital, courtesy of the donations of ‘The Adorables’ and the many donors of the Bayanihan Foundation

Aurora and the group of doctors and nurses were traveling to the Philippines at their own expense to help the less fortunate in need of medical care. The group was traveling to the popular Kawasan Falls before medical mission work was to begin, police and family members said. Tragically, the tour van crashed in the town of Alegria in Cebu province. Seven passengers in the van including Aurora Gagni were pronounced dead upon arrival at area hospitals. Three others were listed in serious condition. Photos the police posted online show the crumpled front of the tour van smashed against the tree. The driver of the van survived and was taken into custody.

Friend Carminda Aldeza said, “Aurora loved the mission work. She just really enjoyed it. She’s just that type of person.” The Bayanihan Foundation and the Filipino American community in Chicago will sorely miss Aurora Gagni for her big heart in helping others.

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Plans for the New Year


2018 Bayanihan Foundation Plans for the New Year

Happy New Year!

For 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation would like to invite you to join us in a yearlong activities of promoting diaspora philanthropy and giving.

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

In February 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation plans to do outreach in the Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA areas to promote the 2018 NEXTGEN Fellowship. In 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation will sponsor partial and full travel and accommodations for up to seven young adults ages 18 years old and above to visit the Philippines for 14 days in the summer 2018. The immersion trip is coordinated to promote diaspora philanthropy; know more about Filipino culture; learn about the foundation’s sustainable projects; connect and develop the participant’s potential sustainable projects; and connect with relatives and the participant’s heritage.

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

In the Spring 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation plans to have a house party presentation in Chicago, IL to share the foundation’s work in mangroves and environmental sustainability in Cebu, Philippines. Bayanihan Foundation board members Marc Butiong and James Castillo will share the foundation’s work in planting over 30,000 mangrove seedlings and its continued efforts for environmental renewal and sustainability.

(standing far right) Bayanihan Foundation board member Ted Kirpach urges guests to donate to the Bayanihan Foundation’s Community Power Giving Circle

In the Summer 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation would share updates of the Community Power Giving Circle. A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy where groups of individuals donate their own money or time to a pooled fund, decide together where to give these away to charity or community projects. The Community Power Giving Circle plans to center among young Filipino Americans helping and giving to other young Filipino and Filipino Americans in the US and abroad. Learn more the Community Power Giving Circle here.

Mural portraying the toxic contamination left behind by the US former military bases in the Philippines (courtesy of Alliance for Bases Clean Up)

In the Fall 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation plans to host an advocacy panel and film screening about the toxic wastes left behind at the former US bases in Clark and Subic,Philippines. The foundation will also talk about plight of many Filipino Amerasians, often discriminated by the color of their skin and the stigma of their birth.  They are the sons and daughters of Filipina women (often though not always impoverished prostitutes) and American military service personnel stationed at the former US military bases in the Philippines.

Stay tuned for exact times and locations for these exciting events with the Bayanihan Foundation!

Posted in Amerasians, Bases clean up, Diaspora Donors, Diaspora Giving, Environmental conservation, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bayanihan in Review – You Make The Difference


What the foundation have achieved so far? 

Bayanihan Foundation IN REVIEW

Planting Seeds of Change, Nurturing Leadership

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

 

10 – 30,000 mangrove seedlings planted and hundreds of youth trained in environmental leadership to fight climate change in Liloan, Cebu

 

 

Street children receiving food relief in Tacloban City, Leyte

 

 

9 – 12,000 families received emergency food relief packages worth $15,000 distributed during super typhoon Haiyan in Samar and Leyte

 

 

Filipino Muslim children enjoying feast during Eid al-Adha in Iligan, Mindanao, Pihlippines (2010 )

8 – 10,000 indigent Filipino Muslim families provided meals during Eid Al Fitr celebrations, with the support of Zakat Foundation of America

 

 

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

 

7 – 6,000 families and children provided clean water and latrines in Iligan

 

 

 

High school students watched attentively during the brief ceremony donating the used computers to the high school in Giporlos Samar

6 – 2,000 school children impacted by donation of three computer labs and 3,000 books donated to build libraries in four different islands

 

 

Planned homes in Dingle, Iloilo sponsored by the PFK Family Foundation

 

 

5 – 20 homes built for indigent families in Dingle, Iloilo, with the generous support of PFK Family Foundation and the municipal government of Dingle

 

 

 

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

 

4 – Organizing and advocacy campaigns including environmental clean-up of former US military bases in the Philippines and Filipino Amerasians, America’s Forgotten Children

 

(left to right): Marc Butiong and Camillo Geaga visiting the monument of Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero in Manila, Philippines (August 2017)

 

 

 

3 – Five NEXTGEN Fellows, young Filipino Americans traveled to the Philippines, encouraging their own giving – locally and globally

 

 

 

Renovated hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital, courtesy of the donations of ‘The Adorables’ and the many donors of the Bayanihan Foundation

 

2 – Two hospital lobby canopies were built for a public hospital in Calamba, Laguna

 

 

 

You make the difference!

1- YOU are important. 100% of the foundation’s income comes from individual donors. 97% goes directly to programs. The Bayanihan Foundation is planting seeds of change, nurturing leadership. Would you consider donating? Donate online at http://www.fdnbayanihan.org

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Planting Seeds of Change, Nurturing Leadership


Marc Butiong celebrating his birthday in honor of the Bayanihan Foundation

On November 12, 2017, NEXTGEN alumnus and Bayanihan Foundation board member, Marc Butiong celebrated his birthday in honor of the Bayanihan Foundation. What’s so special about this birthday celebration? Marc asked his friends and family to give to the foundation instead of birthday presents. Marc demonstrated the zeal of helping others and the true aspiration of the NEXTGEN Program of developing young people to help others and nurturing their leadership for the long-term. Bayanihan Foundation’s  NEXTGEN Program is planting seeds for change and it has blossomed into young Filipino American leaders like Marc.

(left to right): Marc Butiong and Camillo Geaga visiting the monument of Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero in Manila, Philippines (August 2017)

In August 2017, Marc took charge of the NEXTGEN Program that summer and made sure that the Bayanihan Foundation pushed forward with the program that year. Without his leadership, the program would not have pushed through or would be as successful. After our trip to the Philippines, Marc Butiong and Camillo Geaga were both eager to share what they have learned and are finding  ways to fund raise for local and global projects. One of the projects they’re enthusiastically supporting is a local water drainage program in Cebu that benefits 60 impoverished families there. Such a project would prevent further cases of dengue fever and other water-borne illnesses for children and families.

(standing far right) Dale Asis and Marc Butiong talked to family and guests during his birthday celebration (November 2017)

In November 2017, when we got back to the US, Marc Butiong invited his family and friends to a birthday celebration at a local restaurant in Chicago. Rather than asking for birthday presents, he requested his friends and family to donate to the Bayanihan Foundation. Marc and I went around the table explaining to his friends and family the foundation’s mission and the many programs it conducts locally and globally, including the NEXTGEN Program. Marc was eager to share with his friends about the foundation. His enthusiasm is one of the reasons the Bayanihan Foundation’s NEXTGEN Program is successful. And it worked. At the end of the evening, his friends and family raised enough funds to ensure that the Bayanihan Foundation would be able to sponsor partial scholarships for the NEXTGEN Program in 2018.

Jeselle Santiago announces the launch of the Community Power Giving Circle with Shirley Pintado (second from right) and Alicia Santiago (far right) looking on (June 2016)

Marc Butiong is not alone in helping the Bayanihan Foundation. Other NEXTGEN alumni are also pitching in. In 2016, NEXTGEN alumna Jeselle Santiago also opened up her home and invited her family and friends to raise funds for the Bayanihan Foundation.  Other NEXTGEN alumni Jane Baron and Camillo Geaga also offered to help the foundation and both continue to be involved. Is the NEXTGEN Program a worthwhile program? Yes. The program continues to nurture young leadership and plant seeds of change. It’s worth investing in young Filipino Americans so they can discover their roots and heritage, travel back to the Philippines, and find ways to help locally and globally.

Marc Butiong celebrating his birthday (November 2017)

And Marc Butiong exemplifies the success of the NEXTGEN Program in planting seeds of change and nurturing leadership for long-term change. In November 28, 2017, the Bayanihan Foundation is joining a national online giving campaign in the US. Would you consider donating to support the NEXTGEN Program and other local and global projects it supports? Your support is critical to the foundation’s continued success. You can donate securely through PayPal at this link.

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History Matters: Four Things I Learned About the Philippine Revolution


(left to right): Marc Butiong and Camillo Geaga visiting the monument of Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero in Manila, Philippines (August 2017)

Last summer 2017, I traveled with NEXTGEN participants Marc Butiong and Camillo Geaga to several historical sites and museums in the Philippines as we tried to learn more about the history of the Philippines. Unfortunately, Philippine or Asian history is not taught in elementary or high schools in the US.

(left to right): Camillo Geaga, Dale Asis, and Marc Butiong visiting the museum dedicated to Philippine revolutionary leader, Apolinario Mabini in Tanauan, Batangas

 

We visited several museums and historical sites including the birthplace of Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero in Calamba, Laguna and the museum dedicated to the Filipino revolutionary leader, Apolinario Mabini. He was known to be the brains behind the Philippine Revolution in 1898. Both Camillo and Marc were asking a lot of questions throughout the trip.

I learned four things about Philippine Revolution I wanted to share:
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1)The 1898 Treaty of Paris didn’t even mention the Philippine Revolution that was happening at the same time. In June 12, 1898, Philippine revolutionary leaders cried for independence of the islands. However, halfway around the world, the fate of the Philippine Islands were being decided without the voice of the Filipinos. In July 1898, the US fought a decisive battle against Spain in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In December 1898, Spain sold the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Cuba to the United States. Spain sold its colonial territories to the US for a bargain price of $20 million (about $500 million in 2017). The US and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris and the islands were sold in the stroke of a pen. The strangest thing is that US historical documents never even mentioned the Filipino uprising for independence happening at the same time.

Agueda Kahabagan of Santa Cruz, Laguna Philippine Revolutionary hero (Mabini Museum, 2017)

2) Filipino women played key roles during the revolution including the battle field. I always thought Filipino women were on the sidelines during the revolution – cooking meals, caring for the wounded, or sewing the first Philippine flag. I was wrong. Filipina women led hundreds of Filipino soldiers in the battle field. Have you heard of Agueda Kahabagan from Santa Cruz, Laguna? She was awarded the title of General during the Philippine Revolution and served under General Miguel Malvar with 500 troops under her command.

Teresa Magbanua of Iloilo, Philippine Revolutionary hero (Mabini Museum, 2017)

 

How about Teresa Magbanua of Pototan, Iloilo? She earned the title of Captain and was fighting both Spanish and American colonials. Locals nicknamed her one of the “bandits” of Panay Island.

 

 

David Fagen, African-American soldier defected to the Philippine rebel side and became a Philippine revolutionary hero (Mabini Museum, 2017)

 

3) Ever heard of David Fagen (1875-19010)? He’s an African-American soldier that became a Philippine revolutionary hero. David Fagen was one of the African-American soldiers and was part of the US “Buffalo Soldiers” regiment. In 1899, He was assigned during the Philippine American War but defected to the Filipino side in condemnation of the white American excesses. In 1901, the Philippine rebel troops that he joined surrendered but he refused to give up. He’s believed to have hidden in the mountains near the province of Nueva Ecija. David eventually became the symbol of African-American struggle against white American excesses and exploitation of other races (Mabini Museum, 2017).

Balimbing (Carambola) Philippine native fruit

4) ‘Balimbing’ – there’s more than one side to the story. It is often said that history is written by the victors. But according to Filipinos, like the Philippine native fruit, balimbing (carambola) there’s more than one side to the story.  I learned that the history of the Philippine Revolution is complex. It had multiple characters and a complicated plot played along with various competing interests. Philippine history, like the fruit, Balimbing has multiple sides and more than one side to its complex story.

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History Matters: Magellan Didn’t ‘Discover’ the Philippines After All


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Philippines’ Igorot Tribe Wearing Loin Cloths, St. Louis World’s Fair 1904

Were precolonial Filipinos ‘primitive’ before the colonial Spaniards and Ferdinand Magellan ‘discovered’ the islands in 1521? Were Filipino tribes consist of ‘savages in loin cloths’ when the Americans came to the islands in 1898? I think it’s time to change that narrative because history matters.

In 1904, the Philippines Exhibit was one of the major attractions of the World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO. Over 20 million Americans attended the fair. About 1,100 Filipinos were ‘recruited’ and presented as part of the “living exhibits” that recreated their native villages. They came from various islands and ethnic groups throughout the Philippine islands. The most popular were the head-hunting, dog-eating Igorot tribe not only because of their novelty, but also for the scanty dressing of the men in loin cloths and their daily dancing to the tom-tom beats. They were also a major attraction because for their apparent appetite for dog meat which is a normal part of their diet (Virginia Pilapil, webster.edu) The ‘primitive aspect’ of Philippine culture was seared in everyone’s mind.

The narrative of ‘savages in loin cloths’ still continues till today. In 2004, National Public Radio (NPR) featured again this “living exhibit” of savage Filipinos in loin cloths.  One of the grandchildren of the tribesmen featured said that his grandfather made sure when he returned to the Philippines that all of his children and grandchildren received an education. They highlighted the benevolence of Western culture and how they helped everyone became ‘civilized’ (NPR ‘Living Exhibits at the 1904 World’s Fair, 2004).

Dale Asis moved to tears viewing the Boxer Codex for the first time, a 16th century manuscript that included significant illustrations of rich, precolonial Philippine culture (September 2017)

In September 2017, I saw the 16th century manuscript, The Boxer Codex at The Lilly Library, Indiana University. The manuscript was written c. 1590 and contains precolonial illustrations of the Philippines.

Precolonial ‘Naturales Tagalog’ (everyday Filipinos) in elaborate garb and gold jewelry (September 2017)

 

The Boxer Codex detailed elaborate pictures of precolonial Filipinos in ornamental garb and gold jewelry, depicting a rich culture and trade with neighboring countries. Precolonial Filipinos, after all, were not ‘savages’ in loin cloths.

The Boxer Codex showed the rich culture, trade, gold, and relationships of precolonial Philippines. Spanish explorer, Ferdinand Magellan didn’t ‘discover’ the Philippines after all.

 

 

Boxer Codex Illustrations of people from other countries as far away as Japan (September 2017)

 

The Boxer Codex included pictures of people from faraway places as far as Japan and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). It showed precolonial Filipinos potentially have traded with these countries and had a rich relationship with them that influenced their precolonial Filipinos’ beliefs, social organization, trade, gold and culture. Precolonial Filipinos were sophisticated traders after all, not just ‘savages’ in little dug out canoes.

 

 

(left to right) Dale Asis, Marc Butiong, and Camillo Geaga visiting the National Museum of the Philippines (August 2017)

 

 

Last August 2017, I traveled with NEXTGEN participants Marc Butiong and Camillo Geaga to the National Museum of the Philippines and found out more about the rich, precolonial history of the Philippines.

 

The Monreal Stone was found in Masbate Island. It depicts ‘Baybayin’ pre-colonial alphabet used before the arrival of colonial Spain

 

The Monreal Stone is not just another piece of stone. It was found in Masbate Island and it depicts the existence of the precolonial alphabet, Baybayin, that was widely used before the arrival of colonial Spain.

 

 

 

Gold of Ancestors Exhibit, Ayala Museum Makati, Philippines

We also visited the Gold Exhibit at the Ayala Museum in Makati, Philippines. The exhibition featured more than one thousand gold objects celebrating the sophisticated cultures that existed in the Philippines before colonization.

(left to right): Marc Butiong and Camillo Geaga enjoying the precolonial exhibit at the National Museum of the Philippines.

I saw the Boxer Codex up close and saw the rich illustrations of precolonial Filipinos in elegant garb wearing elaborate tunics and gold buttons. I saw hundreds of gold objects that were minted and designed before the colonial Spaniards came in 1521. I saw hundreds of objects of precolonial pottery, language, trade, and culture before the Americans colonized the islands in 1898. Did the Spanish explorer, Ferdinand Magellan ‘discovered’ the Philippines when it already had rich, trading routes with countries as far away as Japan and Ceylon (Sri Lanka)? Did the Americans tamed ‘the savage Filipinos’ in loin cloths and provided them with education and Western civilization, as depicted in the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair? I think it’s time to change the narrative. History matters. The islands had a rich culture even before the colonizers came.

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10 Famous Foods You’ll Love in the Philippines


(from left to right) Dale Asis, Marc Butiong, and Camillo Geaga enjoying view of the Taal Volcano and the food from Josephine’s Restaurant, Tagaytay

In August 2017, Bayanihan Foundation NEXTGEN participants Marc Butiong, Camillo Geaga and I enjoyed the many food delights of the Philippine Islands. Marc is a self-described foodie and through his excitement trying new foods, I also got carried away trying wonderful Filipino food delights during our visit. Most food lists often highlight the weird stuff which makes Filipino fare seem exotic and inedible. Every cuisine has their share of ‘weird’ foods, even American fare. Have you tried deep-fried Twinkies? Yup, they serve them, as they say, “proud to be Ammerican” at the Illinois State Fair.

Enjoying Fried Twinkies at the IL State Fair (Chicago Reader, 2008)

Here’s my top 10 list of food delights you must try the next you visit the Philippines Islands:

10. Bibingka at Kesong Puti (Filipino pancakes and white cheese made of carabao’s milk). The cheese complements the pancake so well. It tastes better than any goat cheese I’ve ever tasted.

Bibingka at Kesong Puti (Filipino pancake with white cheese made of carabao’s milk at Josephine’s Restaurant, Tagaytay

9. Manggang hilaw na may bagoong (Sliced, green mangoes dipped in anchovy paste). Every island seems to have their hometown favorite of anchovy paste. You can skip the salty anchovies but you should try the crunchy flavor of a fresh, green mango. It is to die for.

Fresh, green mangoes dipped in anchovy paste

5. Turon (fried bananas dusted with brown sugar, rolled in a spring roll). The best street food snack.

Turon, a Philippine snack made of thinly sliced bananas dusted with brown sugar, rolled in a spring roll (Talisay City, Cebu)

6. Fresh guavas. I picked this one right from the tree in Liloan, Cebu.

Fresh guava fruit right from the tree (Liloan, Cebu)

5. Tuyo, itlog, sinangag at pandesal (dried herring, scrambled eggs, fried rice and pan de sal bread). I enjoyed this hearty, Filipino breakfast, a perfect start when you’re going to see the sights of the islands.

Tuyo, itlog, sinangag at pandesal (dried herring, scrambled eggs, fried rice and pan de sal bread with butter) – typical, hearty, Filipino breakfast.

4. Kalamansi juice ‘moxtail’ (a moxtail is a nonalcoholic beverage mixed with natural fruit juices and typically with iced tea). This one is made of fresh Philippine lime (Kalamansi). This one is a perfect refreshing drink I got at Greenbelt Makati.

Kalamansi ‘moxtail’ (a non-alcoholic drink made of fresh Philippine lime juice) (Greenbelt Makati)

(left to right): Marc Butiong, Dale Asis, Vicente Yanesa, and Camillo Geaga at Greenbelt Makati (August 2017)

3. Sweet rice with mango slices (Cafe Cesario, Cebu Airport).
Believe it or not I got this at a restaurant in Cebu Airport. It sure beats french fries or potato chips.

Sweet rice with mango slices (Cafe Cesario, Cebu)

2.  Make your own halo halo (shaved ice sundae). There are countless variations of halohalo. Ideally, it’s a layered dessert consisting of shaved ice, evaporated milk, ice cream, and variety of mix-ins. Camillo Geaga enjoyed making his own version of halo halo at Cabalen Restaurant at the local Robinson’s Mall in Manila.

NEXTGEN participant Camillo Geaga enjoying his halo halo (shaved ice sundae) (Cabalen Restaurant, Manila)

1. Seafood feast from the mangroves in Mactan, Cebu. We were guests of the fisher folk community in Mactan, Cebu and they served us a feast! (left to right clockwise: rice, shrimp, soy sauce, boiled crabs, fried fish, fresh seaweed, boiled bananas, and shellfish from the mangroves).

Seafood feast from the mangroves in Mactan Cebu (left to right clockwise: rice, shrimp, soy sauce, boiled crabs, fried fish, fresh seaweed, boiled bananas, and shellfish from the mangroves (Mactan, Cebu)

I noticed that Philippine cuisine is very regional. It  varies as much as the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago.  So what’s your favorite Filipino dish? Do you also have a list of top 10 favorites. Let me know. Enjoy!

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