Maricar Bautista | June 29, 2018
It has been more than a year since the fateful Marawi siege that sent thousands of Maranaos fleeing the place they’ve called home for so many years. A year later, they are trying to rebuild their lives and rehabilitate the city that has seen devastation like no other.
Noni Lao from Raya Saduc, Marawi City is among those who were displaced by the conflict and the harrowing experience continues to haunt her.
“Di ko alam paano kami naka-survive. Buti na lang may anak ako sa Iligan. Gaano ka-rich sa Marawi noon, pare-pareho na kami ngayon. Walang rich, walang poor. Lahat poor. (I don’t know how we survived. It’s a good thing I have a child in Iligan. No matter how rich one was then, now we are all the same. Nobody’s rich, nobody’s poor. Everyone is poor.),” Noni related.
Jasmine Balt, a mother of five children, is also among those affected. She lost her only source of income when the market in Marawi City where she used to do buy-and-sell was completely destroyed.
“Wala kaming livelihood kasi ang livelihood lang namin yung nasa Marawi. Hanggang ngayon, ‘di pa kami nakabawi. (We don’t have any livelihood since the only one we had was in Marawi. Until now, we haven’t recovered.),” Jasmine lamented.
As the affected residents like Noni and Jasmine cannot solely depend on government financial assistance, the Aboitiz Group sought to create sustainable forms of livelihood for them through Pilmico and Aboitiz Foundation. Pilmico also provided training for Noni, Jasmine, and their fellow Marawi residents on how to bake and manage a bakery. It will also monitor the progress of the bakery business. The livelihood program will be implemented in close coordination with Task Force Bangon Marawi. Bakeries will be set up in communities where organized groups are based. Combined, these support the “Biyaya ng Pagbabago” program of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Under the “PAGKAIN (Pagbabago ay Gawin, Kabuhayang Pang-Agrikultura Iaalay Natin) Biyaya ng Pagbabago Bakery Livelihood Project”, which is a partnership between the Office of the Cabinet Secretary’s Office of Participatory Governance (OCS-OPG) and the Aboitiz Group, 12 bakery starter kits will be donated to as many organized groups in Iligan and Marawi City selected by the OCS-OPG. Each starter kit includes a 4-plate gas oven, stainless steel working table, bread rack, dough roller, glass showcase cabinet, peddling bicycle, and an initial supply of halal flour.
“Helping others is one of the core values of the Aboitiz Group. Helping the people, the families affected by the Marawi City siege is of paramount importance — they need immediate help and we are ready to do this. The Aboitiz Group is proud to be the government’s partner to help create safe, empowered and sustainable communities nationwide. This is in line with our commitment to advance business and communities to create a better Philippines and a better world,” said David Jude Sta. Ana, First Vice President for Corporate External Relations of Aboitiz Equity Ventures.
The government for their part, recognize the significant contribution of the Aboitiz Group.
“We’d also like to take this opportunity para pasalamatan yung ating mga partners sa Aboitiz Group, partner sa Pilmico. Sila ang tumulong para makapag-train, mabigyan tayo ng mga gamit para makapag-umpisa. (We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our partners in Aboitiz Group, partners in Pilmico. They are the ones who trained and gave [baking equipment] so we can start [the bakery business],” said Undersecretary Joselito Torres Libres, Office of the Cabinet Secretary through its Office of the Participatory Governance.
It may take years before Marawi can fully recover. But if each individual or sector will do its part in helping our fellow Filipinos rise above such tragedy, there’s a bright future ahead of them. And for this, Jasmine is extremely grateful.
“Kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa Aboitiz at saka sa Pilmico na binigyan kami ng ganitong training na bakery. Kung mabigyan po kami ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng livelihood na bakery, napakalaking tulong po sa amin, lalo na sa mga mothers na walang kabuhayan ngayon. (We are thankful to Aboitiz and to Pilmico for having given us bakery training. If they can provide us with livelihood [bakery], this will help us greatly especially the mothers with no other means of earning income.),” Jasmine said.
Noni, on the other hand, is beaming with optimism.
“Nakita ko po yung public-private partnership. Sabi ko, ‘Ang ganda nito kasi may nakita akong concrete na partnership ng isang private at isang public. ( I saw a concrete partnership between one that is public and one private.) We see hope,” she said.
The National Housing Authority will also play a major role in this project. The Aboitiz group is very much grateful that it’s given a chance to help fellow Filipinos in these most trying times. The company puts premium in taking care of family and that is exactly what they are doing, partnering with government to drive change for a better Philippines.