Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tabang Visayas

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

First there was Tabang Mindanaw in the past decade or so when large areas in Mindanao suffered from armed conflicts and environmental disasters. These left thousands of families in need of not just relief and rehabilitation that would bring them back to their original state but something even better and concrete to look forward to. Nongovernment organizations (NGOs) or civil society groups (CSOs) linked arms with business, church groups, international organizations and government agencies not only to deliver material aid but also to kindle hopes for peace. I think of the selfless individuals I’ve met who tread the less-traveled paths in those parts.

Among the most affected then were marginalized indigenous communities (indigenous people or IP). I have seen for myself and written about the groundbreaking, continuing and remarkable work done by CSOs for these communities. But not to underestimate the local people’s participation to uplift themselves.

Among the amazing breakthroughs are special schools that continue to graduate batches of IP students (up to tertiary level) who are now serving their own communities and even beyond. Think of a Tiduray from Mindanao now doing technology work among the Mangyans of Mindoro. Ah, the vision and out-of-the-box quiet persistence of groups and young individuals! (I am again being invited to those parts to see for myself the great distance that has been covered.)

Now, there is Tabang Visayas.

Launched in the aftermath of Supertyphoon Yolanda”  (international name: “Haiyan”) that blew to smithereens [large parts of the Visayas], and some parts of Luzon, was Tabang Visayas which, from the briefing I got, is even more daunting than Tabang Mindanaw. Words to describe the kind and extent of the devastation and loss in human lives (more than 6,000 as of now) have run out.

Just in case donor fatigue has overcome generous donors (of both material aid and services)—and this is very understandable—they would be happy to know that they shouldn’t let go just yet because there are mainstays who will continue the work for them for the long haul, and that they can remain involved even from the distance. Please don’t let go. Not yet.

Task Force Tabang Visayas is a coalition of member CSOs working in partnership with the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP), the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines (ULAP), and international aid agencies.

Tabang Visayas hopes to create a venue for convergence of initiatives from the private sector, to complement the government program on relief, early recovery, and rehabilitation efforts in the Visayas. To date, Tabang Visayas members have been working in over 62 municipalities and five cities spread across 10 Visayas provinces.

They have conducted relief operations, created a communication hub on emergency response efforts by the coalition members, established networking with the suppliers/providers, and established links and collaboration with LGUs and CSOs.

The CSOs in Tabang Visayas are: Assisi Development Foundation, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ayala Foundation, Metrobank Foundation, Association of Foundations, Philam Foundation, Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, Kaya Natin, Unilab Foundation, Zuellig Family Foundation, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat of Social Action, Hands on Manila, Peace and Equity Foundation, Partnership for Development Assistance in the Philippines, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Habitat for Humanity (Philippines), Food Bank Philippines, ASA Philippines Foundation and Peace Tech.

More CSOs are expected to join. A number of big ones have proceeded on their own.

International agencies: Hope International, International Organization for Migration, UNFPA, Cross Catholic Outreach, MSD and Second Harvest.

Government agencies: ULAP, LMP, House of Representatives, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, League of Cities of the Philippines, Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Donations received so far: more than P27 million. This amount does not include the member CSOs’ own donations of material and human services.

Acting as the center or secretariat for Tabang Visayas is Assisi Development Foundation (ADF) founded by businessman-philanthropist Howard Dee. Foundation president Ben Abadiano (2004 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Emergent Leadership) is coordinating operations. Abadiano and ADF are veterans of Tabang Mindanaw. He is the energy behind IP-related projects which I know of first-hand, among them, Pamulaan (a college for IP students in Davao City), Tugdaan Development Center in Mindoro, Ilawan Foundation, and even the Advocafe joints for the coffee-generation. He has more up his sleeve, but that is another story.

Inquirer, by the way, was also very involved with Tabang Mindanaw, and now is actively participating in Tabang Visayas.

For cash donations, you may deposit to these accounts: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Branch: Julia Vargas Avenue Account Name: Assisi Development Foundation Inc.
Peso Current Account Number: 2431-0046-69 Metrobank Branch: Emerald-Ortigas Center Account Name: Assisi Development Foundation Inc. Peso Savings Account Number: 658-3-65831950-8

You may bring donations in kind to: Tabang Visayas Secretariat Office c/o Assisi Development Foundation Unit 503, 5/F Prestige Tower, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas, Pasig City Telephone: +632-6321001 to 03

Email: Website:

Hang on a little longer to the glow of Christmas. As I said last week, the year ahead will be a year of pleasant surprises for this nation. Remember, I said it.