Celebrating the Gift of Partnerships

Mr. Benjamin Abadiano (General Assembly, 21 March 2019, Microtel, UP Technohub, Diliman, Quezon City) 

In the mountains of Himamaylan in Negros Occidental is a place called Tigbao where a community of Indigenous Peoples (IP) have been living in extreme poverty for many years.

In 2018, the Peace and Equity Foundation and Assisi Development Foundation started a community social enterprise for coffee and cacao production for the Tigbao IP farmers through the Zero Extreme Poverty (ZEP) Movement. Community members voluntarily participated in various activities, from preparing the soil to sowing the seeds, and establishing the coffee and cacao nursery.

My conversations with the community members allowed me to discover the complexities and challenges that they constantly face. The discovery was such a powerful experience that made me realize what many Filipinos must go through under such harsh conditions. Because of its geographical location, the Tigbao IPs seem isolated and have limited access to social services and livelihood opportunities. They are also prone to natural calamities like typhoons and landslides.  

In one of my visits, the people openly expressed their gratitude for the gift of partnership. Just before we left, a group of women approached me with a spark of joy and hope on their faces. “Maraming salamat po sa pagdating ng PEF at ng ZEP dito sa amin. Dahil sa inyong tulong, nagkaroon kami ng pag-asa para mapaunlad ang aming kabuhayan.” Simple words of gratitude, yet very powerful words.

These remind me how ordinary people can be easily satisfied with the simple things in life. Such expressions of gratitude remind us that our partnerships with households and communities are indeed worth celebrating.

Since PEF started, we have been blessed with many partner organizations across the country. In 2018, we started to focus on areas and programs where multiple interventions can be developed to create meaningful change in the lives of our partner communities. We built an enabling environment that allowed 12,000 households to participate in the value chain and access clean water.

While PEF continues to seek opportunities to create a space that is more inclusive, sustainable and resilient for partners and stakeholders, we also faced challenges in ensuring funds are sufficient to deliver PEF’s mission. Yet, PEF was able to provide PHP 141 million to worthwhile initiatives of 57 partner organizations.

What we accomplished would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of my fellow trustees, members, staff, and most especially our partners – institutions and communities – whose lives and dreams are the very reason for the existence of the PEF. 

For their guidance in all our decisions and the inspiration of our vision – maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. Dahil sa inyo mas naging makabuluhan ang paglalakbay ng PEF kasama ang mga tao at pamayanang nais nating maabot at mapaglingkuran tungo sa makabuluhang pagbabago at pag-unlad ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino.

I will always be grateful for the trust and confidence as I sought to create better opportunities for all.  May the Lord keep us all steadfast and committed to each other in building a better Philippines for everyone.