There aren’t a lot of family-run non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but there are advantages to them: a smaller team makes it easier to mobilize teams and resources, and a team composed of family members makes it more personal and intimate. It’s also a great bonding experience.
I was recently introduced to nine advocacies run by families at the 7th Jollibee Family Values Awards. The award-giving body recognizes families who lead exemplary advocacies, and it was inspiring to see Filipinos giving back to the community.
Here are the nine winners recognized during the Gabi ng Parangal Para sa Pamilyang Pilipino:
1. The Dickson Family, Abra
The Dickson family is composed of doctors Ramon and Auditha Dickson, who serve the communities of Abra with their own medical and dental missions. Together, they provide free services, vital equipment, and medical supplies to towns, even those only reachable by foot. Their kids have also inherited their passion to serve: daughter Ramarie is a dentist like her mother and son Ramon Henry is a post-graduate medical intern like his father.
2. The Felix Family, Pasay City
The Felix family established 20/20 Vision, an NGO dedicated to providing eye checkups and giving 2,020 pairs of prescription glasses to those in need. Agnes and her daughter Paula are the optometrists leading the operations, while Agnes’ husband Simeon and Paula’s sister Hannah are in charge of the project’s implementation. Simeon, a uniformed officer, enlisted the help of the Philippine Air Force to expand their advocacy from Luzon to Zamboanga. To date, the family has given 1,301 pairs of glasses.
3. The Borela Family, General Santos (Special Citation for Children)
The Borela family’s advocacy began with the matriarch, Alma. When she saw impoverished children hearing mass and praying to the Mater Dolorosa, she wanted to uplift their lives. Together with her husband Arnel and their kids Raphaela, Tina, Patricia, Guinevere, Samantha, and Jasmine, they give feeding sessions and Catechism lessons to abandoned and destitute children, the elderly, and rehabilitating inmates. The advocacy has been embraced by the whole family and each one plays an important role.
4. The Macalintal Family, Oriental Mindoro
Alvin and Rina Macalintal are public school teachers at the Aurelio Arago Memorial National High School, where they see Mangyan students walk 25 kilometers (or the equivalent of five hours) just to go to their classrooms. Together, they set up the Balay-Lakoy Project, which offers free housing, mentoring, and reading materials so the Mangyan kids don’t have to travel far. The couple’s eldest daughter Angelica links the project to potential partners, and their other children Lorenzo Luis, Josh Pypers, and Hanna Vianney assist by mentoring the students.
5. The Mallari Family, Rizal
Arcie Mallari was inspired to create Silid Aralan, Inc. with his family after a year-long immersion in Payatas. Together with his wife Hazel, they set up a learning hub in Rizal that trains students of different levels, from non-readers to students about to start employment. They have since opened new hubs in San Mateo, Marikina, Baguio, and Cagayan de Oro.
6. The Castro Family, California
Juvenal and Erlin Castro, along with their son Jay, started the Children’s Health-Education Fund Foundation after a visit to Paniqui, Tarlac. There, they saw how the community was struggling in terms of education. Through the foundation, they gather textbooks, school materials, and other essentials from donors in San Jose, California. They then shipped all their donations to schools, individuals, and organizations in the Philippines.
7. The Caballero Family, Negros Occidental (Special Citation for Education)
Rey and Janice Caballero founded the Gaba-An Youth Lead (GYL) Foundation in the hopes of training students in Negros Island. The training is holistic: students learn personal development subjects, soft skills, and confidence to pursue their goals. Rey facilitates the sessions, Janice handles operations, and their children Zaiche Leigh and Aiyana attend the events. Now, GYL has partnered with Silliman University, the National Youth Commission, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to reach more students.
8. The Matti Family, Taguig City (also received a Special Citation for the Environment)
When James and Mylene Matti received a piece of farmland in the foothills of Sierra Madre, they founded the Green Earth Heritage Foundation, where they teach organic farming and sustainable practices to the communities in San Miguel, Bulacan. They also set up a multi-product processing facility for market-ready products and scholarships for the farmers’ children. The Mattis also adopted Romnick, a farmer’s child who now supports the advocacy by speaking on sustainable and organic farming. Romnick was warmly welcomed to the Matti home in Manila, where he received a scholarship to the International School Manila. He is about to go to Harvard as a scholar.
9. The Acula Family, Taguig (Special Citation for People with Disabilities)
The Acula family’s advocacy for the blind and visually impaired was inspired by their youngest daughter Lorena’s visual impairment. They founded Future Vision Home, Inc., an organization that houses the blind and the visually impaired to give them the necessary skills to be fruitful and independent in their lives.
The winning families received a P300,000 cash prize, an elegant brass trophy designed by Michael Cacnio, and P10,000 worth of Jollibee gift certificates. The special citation recipients were given a P50,000 cash prize, a plaque, and P3,000 worth of Jollibee gift certificates.
The families were selected by an esteemed selection committee, co-chaired by Senator Sonny Angara and Ateneo de Manila President Fr. Jett Villarin. They were joined by Coca-Cola Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Atty. Adel Tamano, ANC news anchor Edric Mendoza, inspirational speaker Francis Kong, parenting and relationship consultant Maribel Dionisio, actress Dimples Romana, columnist and children’s advocate Audrey Tan-Zubiri, Jollibee Global Brand CMO and Jollibee Philippines Marketing Head Francis Flores, Jollibee Philippines Vice President for Human Resources George Wang III, and Jollibee Group Foundation Executive Director Gisela Tiongson.