Tag archive for "Poverty"

LEAVING L.A. TO PURSUE GREENER PASTURES

Migration

LEAVING L.A. TO PURSUE GREENER PASTURES

No Comments 02 February 2014

I am not a fan of the American dream, but I’ve always been a dreamer. The thin line between optimism and wishful thinking becomes narrower when dreams fade into the background of reality. I left the Philippines in 2007 in search of greener pastures in the US. READ FULL STORY

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INVISIBLE SISTERS: WEAVING THEIR WAY OUT OF POVERTY

Current Affairs

INVISIBLE SISTERS: WEAVING THEIR WAY OUT OF POVERTY

No Comments 30 November 2013

By Gaby Gloria

At exactly 3:30 in the afternoon, with most of her household chores done, Nancy Surilla walks to the nearby barangay community center. There, other women from her barangay chat excitedly, sharing stories that range from daily experiences at home to the latest showbiz news. In one hand, each of these women hold golden instruments that are no larger than pencils, and no thicker than chopsticks, and in the other, long, colorful strips of plastic. As they chat, the women weave the golden instruments through the plastic strips, each creating a product that will eventually become a wallet or bag. Shortly after Nancy’s arrival, a young woman arrives and proceeds to teach them a new technique in the art of crochet.

Nancy, like the other women in the center, is part of the non-profit organization called Invisible Sisters. Founded in 2009 by American artist Ann Wizer, the Invisible Institute was a simple solution to the complex problems of poverty and garbage.

The Invisible Sisters crocheting clutch bags.

The Invisible Sisters crocheting clutch bags.

INVISIBLE trains and employs Filipino women from depressed communities to make crocheted bags out of waste such as the common plastic sando bags normally used in wet markets and commercial establishments.

Each week, these women attend a training session where an instructor introduces them to innovative techniques for preparing recycled plastic as raw material and executing various crocheting techniques. When they complete the 48-session program, INVISIBLE hires them to be part of the official production team that supplies sales outlets such as SM Kultura Filipino, Ayala Museum, and EchoStore.

The rate and production volume depend on each woman’s skill. Normally, a simple bag takes two to three days to finish and a clutch bag just a day. Smaller products such as wallets and key chains take a matter of hours. At present, 11 communities in Metro Manila serve as livelihood sites that contribute to the production for their sales outlets. These include barangays in Taguig, Paranaque, Quezon City and Manila.  

The organization’s name is fittingly about unseen people and unseen waste. The term “invisible” refers to two fundamental parts of the program. The first part refers to the materials they use, which are normally ignored because they are seen as trash or debris. The second refers to the employees –all are women like Nancy who are not part of the regular work force, women who are normally looked over by members of society.

When they started out, the women would collect plastic bags from creeks, esteros, and rivers, wash them, and cut them into strips to crochet. Their methods of collecting changed in 2011 when they partnered up with the Philippine Plastic Industry Association (PPIA) and Ayala Malls. As a result, plastic collection bins were set up in a Glorietta 5, Greenbelt, Trinoma, Market! Market! and some Ayala Residences buildings.

Samples of Invisible bags

Samples of Invisible bags

The collected plastic is then recycled by PPIA and given to INVISIBLE in large rolls of uniform colors. The plastic from the rolls is divided and distributed to the different livelihood sites to make the bags and wallets seen in stores.

In 2011, INVISIBLE partnered with its biggest supporter to date, GKonomics , the social enterprise development arm of Gawad Kalinga. The partnership led to the set up of their present office inside the GK building in Barangay Pinagsama, Taguig City. GKonomics also helps INVISIBLE with its marketing and training needs. Other big partners include the De La Salle College of St. Benilde (CSB), which provides training funds and helps with programs that address the needs of the women in terms of their livelihood, health, education, and personal development.

Training funds also come from companies such as Accenture Philippines, the Philippine Women’s Association-UK, and the Consuelo Foundation. There have also been partnership projects between INVISIBLE and two Philippine-based brands. INVISIBLE pouches were the packaging material for Silverworks jewelry, and shoe retailer Figlia sold INVISIBLE bags in their stores.

Over the years, more and more projects have been piling up for the organization. In 2013, they began to address the concerns of the women in terms of health, giving them free eye checkups and glasses. CSB has offered scholarships in courses for BS Marketing and Management which are currently open to Invisible women who are high school graduates. They are also working out a scholarship program with CSB to provide college scholarships to the children of the women.

It is with these actions that INVISIBLE hopes to educate consumers and to encourage them to take action themselves through simple ways such as recycling and throwing their trash in the right place.

INVISIBLE has definitely taken a big step forward in dealing with poverty and pollution, problems that plague Philippine society, with its array of colorful crocheted totes and pouches. With over 700,000 plastic sando bags recycled, over a hundred women hired, and thousands of products sold, INVISIBLE is set to take the world by storm; to set an example among the people of this world, reminding them that something can be done, no matter how big we think a problem is. 

For Nancy and women like her, the percentage of the profit they receive every time a bag they make is sold, has a huge impact on their daily life. The money they receive enables them to buy food for their families. Nancy and her invisible sisters no longer feel helpless or worthless — they have become relevant and useful members of society. And it is this they owe to the organization.  With their gold wands turning trash into beautiful objects, the Invisible Sisters are weaving a wonderful and practical solution to poverty and pollution, for communities all over Metro Manila.

 

 

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INSIDE THE WORLD’S BUSIEST MATERNITY WARD

Current Affairs

INSIDE THE WORLD’S BUSIEST MATERNITY WARD

No Comments 04 November 2013

Rosalyn, already a mother of six children, is waiting to give birth. But she will not enjoy the privacy of her own delivery room. Instead, Rosalyn will be one of the 300 new mothers crammed into the wards at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, which sees, on average, 60 new babies come into the world every single day. READ FULL STORY

(See Related Story)

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COUNTRY WELL ON ITS WAY TO BEING HEALED

Current Affairs

COUNTRY WELL ON ITS WAY TO BEING HEALED

No Comments 27 March 2012

Speech delivered by President Benigno Aquino III at Euromoney’s Philippine Investment Forum, held on March 27, 2012 at the Manila Peninsula, Makati City.

Once upon a time, the consensus among you was that we were the sick man of Asia. The diagnosis for this illness was as simple as it seemed insurmountable: a lack of political will; an entrenched system of corruption that could not be weeded out; and a feeling of utter impossibility among Filipinos and their leaders alike.

Since I am addressing you at a time when Filipinos are gearing up for Holy Week, I hope you permit me to state in a biblical vein: all it took was faith-healing to invoke, in political terms, the biblical injunction from the Gospel of Luke chapter 4 verse 23: “Physician, Heal Thyself.”

Let no one doubt that we are doing the three things which were previously thought of as impossible: we are calling people to account; we are putting closure to the controversies that had sapped our institutions of their vigor and had diminished their legitimacy in the eyes of our countrymen; in other words, we are exercising political will. We have reformed the manner in which we allocate and dispense public funds; we have thrown the book at the thieves; and we are collecting what the government is due. That is how we are fighting corruption, and making a mark. We have fought the culture of naysaying and negativity, and have given a sense of empowerment to our people, replacing the hopelessness of the past with a steadfast commitment to building a society that works. We have put an end to business as usual and proclaimed a country open for real business

And this, simply, has done wonders for our economy. Two years ago, for example, none of us could imagine the Philippine Stock Exchange index breaking the 4,000 barrier. Now, we have breached not just 4,000, but 5,000 as well. The PSEi closed at another record high just eleven days ago at 5,145.89 points. For those of you keeping score: that’s 21 record highs in the 21 months of our administration.

In our relatively short time in office, a significant number of respected international organizations have also given us thumbs up signs. The World Economic Forum, for one, bumped the Philippines ten places up—from 85th to 75th—in their latest Competitiveness Index. The Japan External Trade Organization, after conducting a survey among companies in our region, named us the best place to do business in Asia-Oceania, whether in manufacturing or service. HSBC even recently predicted that, by the year 2050, we will be the sixteenth largest economy in the world. And these are only a few of the companies and organizations that have already changed their mind about the Philippines—and have been very vocal about it.

This renewed confidence from the global community has reflected itself in real pesos and centavos invested in the country. Since we took office in July of 2010, we have seen 449.7 billion pesos in investments in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. This accounts for 22 percent of all investments in PEZA since it was established in 1995—seventeen years ago. Likewise, in 2011, investment promotion agency-approved foreign direct investments grew by 30.6 percent to 256.1 billion pesos—the highest recorded level in sixteen years.

We are also performing quite well in the bond market. In January of this year, we issued 1.5 billion dollars in global bonds with a coupon rate of five percent—the lowest for an Asian sovereign for that tenor, and at better rates than several other investment grade sovereigns like Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, and even some EU countries like Spain.

Might I add: all this is happening amidst global economic uncertainty. If these facts and figures tell us anything, it is that the Philippines’ success has been nothing less than heroic—that we have experienced high after high in our investment story.

So many people in government continue to work endless nights to make certain that we build on our momentum—that we continue along this path to progress.

Suffice to say: we are proud of the progress we have made, but we are not satisfied with just this. We Filipinos know just how much potential this country has; and we are working even longer nights to fulfill this potential.

So what’s next for the Philippines? The plan for this year involves focusing on three specific sectors—sectors that will have the largest impact on our economy, and in the lives of our people—that will create much-needed jobs in the timeliest manner, namely: agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism.

I have always maintained that our farmers should be given enough incentive to do their jobs well. Right now, while our farmers account for 33 percent of total employment, they only account for 13 percent of GDP. This isn’t right; and our administration fully intends to increase farmer productivity and help facilitate the trade of produce.

We have increased the budget of the Department of Agriculture by more than fifty percent to 53.3 billion pesos. The bulk of this money will go to more irrigation projects, more farm-to-market roads, and more buying posts—projects that will directly impact the lives of those who find their livelihoods in agriculture, and will move us closer to our goal of reaching rice self-sufficiency in 2013, which we believe extremely doable.

Our infrastructure programs have been getting a move on as well. As of the 15th of March, I am told that the Department of Public Works and Highways has bidded out nearly ninety percent of their 2,128 projects worth 63 billion pesos this year. 91% percent of these projects have already been issued notices to proceed; and we are confident that, very soon, we will reach 100 percent.

I am also happy to report that last week, that our administration has approved 133 billion pesos worth of projects for different sectors. Most prominent among them is the LRT Line 1 South Extension Project, worth 61.53 billion pesos. The plan is to extend LRT Line 1 by almost twelve kilometers, from Baclaran, through Paranaque and Las Pinas, to Bacoor, Cavite. I have full faith that Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas will have this extension operational at the soonest possible time. That, in a little while, we will be able to expand transportation, and open the gates a little wider between Metro Manila’s and Cavite’s economies.

Tourism is another industry that has made leaps and bounds. I’ve always said that tourism is a low-lying fruit for the Philippine economy that has long gone unpicked. But thanks to a re-energized Department of Tourism care of Secretary Mon Jimenez—and thanks to an excellent marketing campaign, coupled with a liberalized aviation industry—in January alone, the Philippines welcomed more than 400,000 visitors. This is the highest monthly visitor count in our history. And if we can sustain this, we are set to welcome almost 4.8 million visitors this year. This is really close to five million. We are still quite a way from our target of 10 million yearly visitors by 2016, but imagine: two years ago we were expecting just around three million visitors a year; and now there is the possibility of welcoming five million. We still have four years and three months left to reach our target—and we know that, each year, we can grow our number of visitors closer and closer to our goal.

From the beginning, the secret to our success has been simple: we want to make it easier for people to do business here; and that means creating a level playing field, curbing corruption, and eliminating inefficiencies. This explains many of our initiatives, particularly the Philippine Business Registry. Instead of our entrepreneurs running around from agency to agency just so they can set up shop here, we have given them a one-stop-shop, where they can transact with multiple government agencies at once. This reduces the time it takes to register a business from several days to just twenty to thirty minutes. More than that, it vastly reduces opportunities for corruption.

The bottom line here is: if we want businesses to set up shop here and create jobs for our people, we have to be competitive. We have to focus on industries where there are actual opportunities for mutual benefit. The world is getting increasingly smaller, and we find ourselves pitted against countries who have very competitive business propositions. We cannot compromise our position by making life more difficult for companies because of corruption or red tape. We cannot sacrifice the jobs created by these businesses, because it is our people who will take the brunt of the hit if these businesses choose to operate elsewhere. We need to continue fostering a good environment for business—one that is both stable and predictable. I assure everyone here today: this belief will always be a core principle of our administration; and I invite all of you to ride this wave of optimism early, and invest in our country, be it in agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, or any other sector. We are eager to work with all of you.

Investors have always been a significant component of our vision for this country. But perhaps we go by a more expansive definition of the word investor. While we value the confidence of potential investors; and while we value the businesses that have chosen to set up shop here; above all, we value those who have invested their lives, their work, and their families in this country—the Filipino people.

As their government, the people are our ultimate shareholders. And we are bound to work in their interest. This is the driving principle behind all our efforts to be competitive. At the end of the day, we want our economy’s growth to redound to better lives for people. We want to leave no one behind on the straight and narrow path to progress, because we know that the success of our story—of the Philippines’ story—is dependent on the success of each and every one of the characters who play a part in it: from the farmer who gets up before sunrise every day, to the men and women who clock into work at 9AM, to you, the investors who have placed your bets on the Philippines.

Thank you and good morning. May you have a productive forum.

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REVOLUTION, EVOLUTION? NO, IT WILL BE AN IMPLOSION

Current Affairs

REVOLUTION, EVOLUTION? NO, IT WILL BE AN IMPLOSION

No Comments 11 December 2011

By F Sionil Jose

In the past 100 years, three important events have tested us as a people — the revolution of 1896 and the Philippine-American War; the Japanese Occupation in 1942; and the declaration of martial law in 1972 by Ferdinand Marcos. We failed all three; in the process, after each climactic event, our moral fiber was frayed. READ FULL STORY

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THE GREATEST GENERATION

Current Affairs

THE GREATEST GENERATION

No Comments 25 September 2011

How do we move our government leaders and other public servants so they may give their best and work very hard every day until they find the solution to our nation’s ills? READ FULL STORY

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MVP: WE SHOULD ADDRESS POVERTY FIRST

People

MVP: WE SHOULD ADDRESS POVERTY FIRST

1 Comment 09 January 2011

For Manuel V. Pangilinan, one of the top business executives in the country, eradicating poverty should be Job No. 1 for every Filipino. But to be successful, more people should help not just in civic projects but also in government programs that invite partnerships with private businesses. READ FULL STORY

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WHO ARE THE ELITE?

Current Affairs

WHO ARE THE ELITE?

1 Comment 26 March 2010

By Juan T. Gatbonton

Our elite of power and wealth are extremely diverse. Their members range from the genteel remnants of the colonial hacendero families to the grossest political-warlord clans such as the Ampatuans of Maguindanao, who are accused of slaughtering 57 people in just one morning. READ FULL STORY.

IN PHOTO: Former ARMM chair Zaldy Ampatuan (left) and younger brother ex-Maguindanao Gov. Sajid Ampatuan with President Arroyo.

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SWISS COP QUITS JOB TO HELP KIDS IN PHILIPPINES

Current Affairs

SWISS COP QUITS JOB TO HELP KIDS IN PHILIPPINES

No Comments 05 March 2010

BERN, Switzerland – Thomas Oliver Kellenberger was an ordinary policeman here. But not to children working in the garbage dumps in Cagayan de Oro. Kellenberger, 27, quit his job to relocate to the Philippines this month, where he will work full-time in the love of his life — a foundation helping scavenger children. READ FULL STORY.

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OUTSOURCING THE WIFE

Migration

OUTSOURCING THE WIFE

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Carmela Fonbuena    

Foreigners trawl the World Wide Web for one of the country’s hottest exports, the Filipino mail-order-bride, a convenient way to traffic Filipino women. “Mail-order bride” was a term coined  in the 19th century to refer to the way American soldiers literally ordered brides to join them in areas they were assigned. Today, it has acquired a different connotation as technological leaps and bounds have become easier for men to “order” their wives from the net in much the same way they do their shopping online. READ FULL STORY.

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