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A Formula for Success

They came and as each spoke, I imagined a formula for success.

At the launch of the Social Enterprise Development Project for Economic Resilience of Disaster Survivors in Bicol held at the Berde Asul @Mariners last week, everyone invited and who mattered committed to contributing to the project’s success. Everyone left inspired and in high spirits, despite the on-and-off gloom-and-bright moody weather that day.

There were the group pictorials, chatting, and kumustahan. But, then, the guests were in all admiration upon receiving a blue and green twin angel citronella-scented candles made by disaster survivors-women entrepreneurs of Ilaw ng Kababaihan, a copy of Bicol Mail rolled and tied with a blue and green ribbon, and of course, the smiles of the welcoming SED project staff at the registration table.

The venue was a significant departure from the traditional set-up. A tent is set up at the center of the vast Mariners gym, with its roofing nursing a few big holes for fixing for the approaching school opening. A ten-man utility crew of the school’s General Services Office (GSO) with the SED technical and admin team assembled the tent in the morning while gusty winds outside threatened to spoil the event. The Berde Asul site, near the TBM-DA Citronella Distillation facility, still needs a friendly footpath to walk on. At a corner stands the DoST-provided off-grid solar panel that powers up the production center 24 hours a day. Just as the workers finished the set-up, a bit of the elusive sun was up, and everyone was cheering.

At the end of the program, everyone had a heyday at the TBM building. The women entrepreneurs had a display store to showcase and sell their initial products of citronella oil, naturally scented candles, and recycled wares. Far away, the majestic Mount Isarog at the southeastern part of Berde Asul was a beautiful sight to behold!

Toward the end of their talks, the guests expressed the usual commitment of “we are always behind you, and let us continue to collaborate more.” In real life, promises and pledges, “pangako sayo hanggang sa dulo ng mundo,” a luxury during elections, are a part of every speech of dignitaries and guests. But at the launch, everyone may have felt a different air of confidence and mutual assurance. TBM and the groups have established a more intimate relationship before. It was a happy launch to signal a good beginning. I think it’s something to celebrate, and I look forward to the positive outcome of the two-year project.

The Multi-Stakeholder approach

The multi-sectoral approach has become a constant practice with TBM. The program launch manifested this spirit from the broad participation of the youth, farmers, workers, entrepreneurs, academe, the LGU, church, and public servants in the regional and provincial NGAs.

The question in everyone’s mind: How would an ocean-oriented or sea-based maritime educational institutions like Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation in Canaman, Camarines Sur, and Legazpi, Albay, come together with an agriculture and land-based State University as the Central Bicol State University in Agriculture (CBSUA) in Pili, Camarines Sur for a big trail-blazing research-and-development project funded with a grant from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education? The answer is in the tasty cassava puto served at the launch-- sweet but healthy, with the right proportion, well mixed and steamed, and more importantly, shared.

Disaster Response and Poverty Alleviation

CHEd Region V Chief Education Program Specialist Ms. Rachel Casimero was candid when she said in her message, “I was pleasantly surprised at the project; it’s a first kind of such a collaboration.” The common denominator is the TBM’s Health, Environment, and Alternative Livelihoods or HEAL to respond to disaster, poverty alleviation, and people empowerment. Like-minded presidents of the three lead project HEIs, namely Dr. Marilisa Ampuan, Dr. Alberto Naperi, and Madame Merle San Pedro, could not agree any less. Dr. Cely Binoya, the program leader, and I share the optimism that the project would succeed with the right formula for success.

As RD Digs Aguilar of DTI-5 says, “focusing on solving social problems rather than (just) making money can be an effective tool towards social recovery.” RD Rommel Serrano of DoST-5 calls for the transformative power of Science, Technology, and Innovation, where scientific knowledge and technological applications not only aid communities to bounce back but help reshape their future toward sustainable and people-centered development. “TBM pushed and inspired us to extend our interventions with its dedication and constant striving,” RED Rodel Tornilla of DA-5 said as he lauded the admirable partnership of the TBM with the DA-HVCDP.

The Regional Directors of the CHEd (Septon dela Cruz), the Department of Agriculture (Rodel Tornilla), the DoST (Rommel Serrano), the DTI (Rodrigo Aguilar), the Department of Labor (Zenaida Campita), the Department of Education (Gilbert Sadsad), and the Department of Health (Ernie Vera) responded fast, warm and welcoming to the project’s goals of addressing disaster and alleviating poverty. They offered a ray of hope. Indeed, to help shake off poverty and empower the people, the best initiatives should come from an objective combination of pagtarabangan or collaboration and unity of good intentions with the government as a significant actor. State policy to better people’s lives would play a critical part in creating a lasting impact on real social change.

Unfortunately, it is oftentimes a pitfall in the experiences of many people’s organizations. Nay Virgie Blaza, president of the People’s Organization of Disaster Survivors (PODiS), said people like her continue to wage their struggle to fulfill their dreams for a better future long neglected and denied them. Dr. Cely Binoya, the program head, and I can only nod in agreement. In the final analysis, the people like Nay Virgie are the decisive and ultimate factors for change.


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