In the remote town of Lemery, Iloilo, rural communities still bear the scars left by supertyphoon Yolanda. When the typhoon hit the Philippines in November 2013, up to 95% of smallholder farmers in the area were completely devastated.
A year later, many of the humble farmer’s houses still show signs of damage, their walls made of nipa are held up with scavenged wood. Fences and lamp posts along the dirt roads remain toppled and unrepaired.
But there are also some houses that bear sparkling new roofs, replacing the ones blown away by the strong winds. Land areas right beside the houses are grown with vegetables ready to be harvested and show seeds of hope.
These vegetable plots were grown through a livelihood program spearheaded by Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF). Dubbed as the Farmer Livelihood Recovery Program (FLRP), it aims to enable farmers to grow food for their family’s consumption and generate additional income. The program commenced in March 2014 and provided financing, training and marketing assistance. 702 smallholder farmers have been assisted since. Aside from Iloilo, the program was also implemented in Antique, Aklan and Cebu.
One of the farmers who benefitted from the program is Rosemarie Arante. Through the program they were able to transform idle lands near their homes, which were affected by the typhoon, into vegetable plots, planting seeds provided by JGF. “We plant different vegetables including eggplant, squash, okra, ampalaya and green beans,” said Arante.
“It’s a big help to have the vegetables for our daily meals. Instead of having to buy fish or meat, we can just harvest the vegetables for cooking,” points out farmer Fred Cabacas, the President of the local farming association.
Beyond Subsistence Farming
Other farmers were able to make small investments with their earnings and savings.
Eleanor Gonzales reported that they were able to buy piglets for fattening from the savings of the labor cash provided by JGF.
Eugenio Dable, a farmer from Bangkal, said he invested his savings in purchasing more vegetable seeds. He also planted 100 banana trees, which he expects to harvest in 6 months.
Other farmers like Aniolino Matutino likewise purchased additional seeds of squash and eggplant, which he was able to successfully grow and sell.
Iris Gulanes, Manager of Taytay sa Kauswagan Inc. (TSKI)-Community Enterprise Development Department, one of the local partners of JGF, considers the program a success.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome of the program because it’s served its purpose to provide support to the farmers after the typhoon. I consider it a bonus that some of the farmers have been able to invest their savings in other income-earning ventures,” she said.
She also cites positive changes in terms of the community’s attitudes and values. Working together has been beneficial for the community. The farmers learn from each other on how to produce a good harvest and even share surplus seeds and produce.
“Even when the initial support ended, they decided among themselves to continue planting seeds and have continued with the program on their own. Others have even diversified their crops,” said Gulanes.
While complete recovery may still be a long way ahead, the farmers are thankful that the extra income from the vegetables has been able to sustain their daily needs and finance the expansion of their livelihood activities. “Hopefully, with continued training and support, they will eventually become farming enterprises that can supply their vegetables to a steady market,” she adds.
The Farmer Livelihood Recovery Program (FLRP) of Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) is helping farmers get back on their feet in typhoon-hit areas in the Visayas region. The FLRP began in March 2014 and is assisting 702 small-holder farmers rebuild their income through farming and livestock-raising.
In a site visit to farms in Iloilo, Aklan and Antique, farmer beneficiaries shared how the program is helping them after their livelihood was affected by typhoon Yolanda last year.
“Malaking tulong talaga ang programa na ito. Dahil sa mga nabenta kong manok, napatayo ko na ulit yung bahay namin. Nakaipon din ako ng mahigit P5,000 na pinambili ko ng semento, mga yero at iba pang kailangan,” (This program is a really big help. Because of the chickens I sold, I was able to rebuild our house. I also earned over P5,000 that I used to buy cement and other materials I needed), shared Rebecca Ortega, a farmer in Culasi, Antique, who raised and sold broiler chickens provided by FLRP.
“Yung mga bakanteng lupa dito na nasalanta ng bagyo, ginawang gulayan na,” (We transformed the empty lots here which were affected by the typhoon into small vegetable gardens), said Rosemarie Arante, a farmer in Lemery, Iloilo who is now planting crops like squash and eggplant for her family’s consumption, as well as to sell to supplement their income.
The FLRP provided training and marketing assistance to farmers in the typhoon affected communities. Initial investments such as vegetable seeds, fertilizers, cash for labor, broiler chicks, feeds and other inputs were also provided to the beneficiaries to help them generate additional income and start them off on a path to recovery.
Currently FLRP is being implemented in 4 provinces (Cebu, Aklan, Antique, Iloilo) with 3 local partner institutions (LAMAC Multi-Purpose Coop, Ahon sa Hirap Inc or ASHI, and Taytay sa Kauswagan Inc or TSKI). JGF is hoping that the income generated from the project will help the farmers continue their livelihood in the coming months.
When Molocaboc Island was hit by Typhoon Yolanda in November last year, island life has changed tremendously. People didn’t know what to do, where to start, when to bounce back (if there is still a chance to bounce back). The challenge in school was on how to bring pupils back to school. It had been more than a week but kids weren’t back at school yet. We looked for ways on how to help parents so they can help send their kids back. It was a tough for everyone in school. Then help came in.
The Special School Feeding Program of Jollibee Group Foundation and University of St. La Salle Bacolod provided 619 pupils of Molocaboc Integrated School not only with food but lots of love and humanitarian compassion as well. Families may be able to provide food for their children even at a difficult time like a super typhoon but for institutions like Jollibee Group Foundation and University of St. La Salle Bacolod to take active part in this effort, the meaning of giving has changed. You feel loved, you feel nurtured and you see that a community is inspired.
Feeding kids thrice a week for 10 weeks was not an easy task. You needed to plan things out very well, advocate vigorously and invest extra time and effort to ensure that everything went well. This especially challenged me considering that Molocaboc Integrated School has the most number of recipients compared to most school feeding beneficiaries. I had to make sure that every major stake holder in school: teachers, parents, local officials, DepEd personnel, participate in this effort. By God’s grace and through the encouragement of the project lead Ms. Katherine Maguad and her team of esteemed young men and women from University of St. La Salle Bacolod, the school has successfully implemented the 10 week Special Feeding Program for the Yolanda-affected schools.
The school is also grateful to the Sagay City Nutrition Council headed by Ms. Vice Tajanlangit and to Ms. Grace Lanutan of DepEd Health and Nutrition Section for their commendable effort at ensuring that food supplies reach to the recipient schools. Most importantly, we sincerely thank the parents who devoted much of their home time to help us prepare the food and ensure that the kids are fed.
Mr. Roger Rochar, Principal
Molocaboc Integrated School
Sagay City, Negros Occidental
Typhoon Yolanda Update:
Jollibee Group Foundation’s Special School Feeding benefits students in Kalibo and Capiz
The Special School Feeding Program (SSFP) of Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) is getting kids back to school in typhoon-hit areas in Kalibo and Capiz. Over 100 days after super typhoon Yolanda devastated provinces in the Visayas region, students of severely devastated schools in Kalibo, Aklan and Dao, Capiz are benefiting from free lunch meals served 3 times a week to pupils from all grade levels.
Improvising in times of disasters
In the SSFP, JGF is providing the feeding budget and in-kind support lunch as rice, soup mixes and cooking utensils, while partner agencies, schools and parents provide support.
“Most of our students are children of farmers whose livelihoods were affected by the typhoon,” shared Baltazar D. Paja, Head Teacher of Ylas Norte Elementary School in Dao, Capiz. Parents play an important role as they are the ones preparing the meals of the students and even though they are also affected, they still manage to go to the school to help out. In a remote school parents huddle over pots in a makeshift cooking center made from the remains of 3 damaged classrooms. Men chop up firewood while mothers prepare a congee soup mix to feed the school’s students for lunch.
“It’s really a challenge for some of us to volunteer to cook, especially since it’s the harvest season now, but we all want to help out,” shared Maria Vanessa Tinez, one of the parents.
Despite the lack of resources, the school has made the best of the situation.
“The firewood we use for cooking is made from damaged fences, trees and dry bamboo that were destroyed by the storm,” said Tinez.
The pots they use for cooking are placed on a makeshift grill made from steel salvaged from a damaged classroom.
“We borrowed large pots from parents who usually only use these during special ocassions like fiestas, so that we can cook for all the students in school,” shared home economics teacher Lani Baruela.
Baruela, who also serves as the Nutrition Coordinator of the school, uses her vacant time in the morning to supervise the feeding program. She personally picks up the supplies needed for the feeding program every Friday morning from the town center.
It helps that the Local Government of Dao, Capiz, which is the project’s main implementing agency, makes it easy for their 19 school beneficiaries to get supplies. The LGU came up with an organized distribution system with suppliers. They also provided water filters to each school.
“Barangay officials have provided multicabs to help the school transport the supplies needed every week. The officials also provide the gas free of charge,” shared Hon. Joselito Y. Escutin, Municipal Mayor of Dao, Capiz.
Dr. Marlon P. Destreza, District Supervisor of the Department of Education in the District of Dao says the feeding program has already had a positive impact on the students.
“Aside from increasing their nutritional status, there’s been a tremendous increase in school attendance especially during feeding days. Students are more motivated to come to school regularly now,” said Destreza.
Alyssa Mae Claion, 12, a Grade 6 student in Don Nicanor Escutin Memorial School (DNEMS), a remote school in Dao, Capiz, is one of the beneficiaries. Her father is a farmer while her mother works in Manila.
“Dati nagbabaon pa kami ng kanin at ulam para sa pananghalian, ngayon hindi na kasi may libre ng pagkain na mas masustansya,” said Alyssa.
“Maganda yung programa dahil hindi na nag-aabsent ang mga kaklase ko,” added Alyssa.
JFC and JGF continue to assist families as they recover and rebuild their lives after Typhoon Yolanda. A Special School Feeding Program in over 100 schools and a livelihood recovery program for small farmers started in January 2014.
Bangon Visayas Feature Story of the Month: Iloilo Province
A hundred days after the havoc of Typhoon Yolanda, Northern Iloilo is slowly rising again. Power is being restored in major areas, the sound of hammers and saws echo from all corners as survivors convert useful debris into their new homes.
As you walk through the fallen walls around the towns, numerous Yolanda survivors have the same story to tell, how they lost it all to the typhoon and how they are now picking themselves up to move forward.
Moving forward to give back
On the day Yolanda struck the town of Lemery, Iloilo, Nanay Julie Alberto, 61, and her family lost their home and livelihood. They were forced to evacuate and thought that they will not be able to live normal lives again. But through the help of various groups, she and her grandchildren have found a glimmer of hope.
The Jollibee Group FoodAID Special School Feeding (SSF) is one kind of assistance that Nanay Julie is grateful for.
“Sa totoo lang, sa edad kong ito, medyo nahihirapan din ako. Pero hindi ko na iniintindi, kasi alam ko ito lang naman ang kaya kong maibigay para masuklian ang tulong na binibigay sa amin,” said Nanay Julie. (To be honest, with my age, I am finding it hard (to help) but I don’t mind it because I know this is the only way that I can give back to those who have been helping us.)
Her four grandchildren all study in Almenana Elementary School and get to partake of the meals provided under SSF. As part of her commitment, Nanay Julie actively participates in the program by cooking and serving meals to more than 900 students in the school. As the program provides lunch to her grandchildren, Nanay Julie also gets one-kilo of rice every time she participates. This gives them relief and the hope that indeed, their lives are on track to becoming normal again.
Almenana Elementary School is one of the 134 schools in the provinces of Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Leyte and Samar that are benefiting from Jollibee Group FoodAID’s Special School Feeding Program. The SSF program will run from January until end of the school year and will serve meals to more than 47,000 pupils.
“Almost gave up but now I’m moving forward…”
Maricar Banggud, a Grade 6 student, shared that she almost quit school because she just wanted to help her parents look for food to eat. But when she heard that Omio Elementary School will be one of the SSF beneficiaries of Jollibee Group FoodAID, she realized that people outside her hometown are not giving up in helping them and she should not also give up.
“Salamat po sa lahat ng tumutulong sa amin. Ngayon kahit maglakad ako ng malayo papunta dito sa eskwela, pumapasok pa rin ako kasi alam kong hindi ko dapat sayangin ang tulong ninyo,” said Maricar. (Thank you to those who have been helping us. Now, even though I have to walk far just to get here, I will still go to school because I know I should not waste this opportunity that you are giving us.)
Mrs. Diosita Muyco, School Principal of Muyco Elementary School also shared that the attendance of the pupils in their school improved across all levels after learning that a special school feeding will be conducted. “Noong una, panay ang absent nila. Kasi mas pinipili nila na tumulong mangalakal kasama ng magulang nila. Pero nung narining nila yung SSF, biglang nagsipasukan na sila at ngayon bihira na ang mga umaabsent,” said Mrs. Muyco in her statement. (Before, they were always absent because they would rather work together with their parents. But when they heard that the SSF will be implemented here, they all suddenly went back to school and now they are hardly absent from their classes.)
The SSF is conducted three times a week and is made possible through the cooperation of everyone in the community. While JGF provides the ingredients and the rice for the parents, the local government unit, school administrators, teachers and parents all work together to undertake the activity. In Iloilo province, the SSF is being implemented through the help of the Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (WVCST) and John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University – Arevalo (JBLFMU-A), which are also partners in the Busog, Lusog, Talino School Feeding Program of JGF. “This SSF is definitely a big help especially to the kids because they are not only fed but they also receive additional assistance such as rice for their families. And this gives them the hope that they can actually rise up and face each day with renewed spirit,” shared WVCST College President Luis Sorolla, Jr.
The local government units (LGUs) on the other hand also provide monitoring and transportation support for the SFF activities in their localities. The LGU partners also expressed their appreciation for the assistance that JFC and JGF have extended to the survivors.
“On behalf of our people, the Concepcionanons… to our donors, thank you very much for helping us move forward and we hope that you will continue to support us as we slowly walk towards the road to recovery.” -Concepcion, Iloilo Mayor Milliard Villanueva.
Students of Muyco Elementary School happily pose for the camera
Pupils enjoying their meals
Parent volunteers from Muyco Elementary School and Municipal Program Coordinator John Caleste (first from left) and Sangguniang Baranggay Member Rodel Sipanton (rightmost)