Before the pandemic turned our lives upside down, October would find me bustling with activity.
It is during this time that I will hold the Red Charity Gala with my co-chair Kaye Tinga. The annual fundraising event was something I always looked forward to, as it meant not only showcasing the creativity of our local designers, but also contributing to the charities we chose to support.
Unfortunately, my partner RCG Kaye and I have decided to end our successful charity event due to these difficult times. However, it is not a question of putting an end to our philanthropic projects. We’re sure to come up with a new one as we adjust to the new normal.
Having said that, I find it extremely wonderful and inspiring the way businesses are doing their part to help Filipinos in the midst of the pandemic. Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), for example, has helped vulnerable sectors through the Alagang AyalaLand program. In addition to providing disaster relief and promoting environmental sustainability, Alagang AyalaLand provides livelihood opportunities for social enterprises by giving them their own spaces, rent-free, in ALI developments where they can expand their business.
One of these social enterprises is Bukid ni Bogs, an organic farm based in Zamboanga and a soap making company. Its main goal is to raise the status of women farmers while teaching everyone the importance of an organic lifestyle.
â€œWith the help of Alagang AyalaLand, we will be able to share our stories and advocacy with a wider audience. We owe all of this success to our loyal patrons who continue to fuel our passion for preserving our communities and the environment, â€said founder Bogs Castro.
Pure Bites, a provider of healthier food choices such as salads, nutrient-rich smoothies and tofu dishes, aligns with Ayala Land’s agenda to promote healthy eating among Filipinos. For Marianne Dagohoy, Alagang AyalaLand has not only paved the way for her family’s small business to prosper, but has also enabled her to provide employment opportunities for some who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Another small business that has received support is HandKraftPH. Founded by Michael Santos and Michael Byron Quevada, the community-based business employs more than 40 weavers who lost their sources of income during the pandemic. HandKraftPH produces beautifully woven buri and abaca baskets for use as planters and organizers in homes.
According to Santos and Quevada, â€œWe continue to explain to our clients how the Alagang AyalaLand program has provided us with the platform to share our heritage as we help a small community. Our weavers have become more hardworking and enthusiastic as they know their works will be available not only in typical â€œbazaars or tianggesâ€, but in an Ayala mall such as Glorietta in Makati. “
An initiative led by volunteers and organized by Debbie Bartolo, Likha Initiative promotes a zero waste community. He runs workshops and mentoring programs, and works to educate the public on waste management. To cope with the loss of income of community members due to the pandemic, Likha Initiative finally turned to the creation of local products such as recycled backpacks, handbags, straw bags, scrunchies, hair clips, bobs and even monokinis. All are produced in accordance with the group’s environmental protection ethics.
â€œWe have been fortunate to partner with Ayala Malls, as it creates an opportunity for mothers in poor urban areas to earn additional income and alleviate unemployment and financial constraints faced by families. It has also become a means of empowerment for mothers who have found their spaces for creation and income generation, â€Bartolo said.
Manny A. Blas, ALI Vice President and Head of Alagang AyalaLand Council, said: â€œWe hope to help the community by launching a sustainable program focused on creating livelihoods. Through our developments, mainly our shopping centers, we want to provide social enterprises with direct access to potential customers and encourage them to promote their unique and authentic products locally.
There are now over 300 social enterprises supported by the program and they are mainly in 32 Ayala shopping malls nationwide.
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