Aboitiz Group empowers MSME ‘Nanays’ with its Visayas COVID-19 response

Aboitiz Group empowers MSME ‘Nanays’ with its Visayas COVID-19 response

CEBU CITY – The buwad (dried fish) has long been a staple Cebuano food and a source of livelihood for several local entrepreneurs like Rafaela Ducay, who works at the Taboan Public Market in Cebu City.

However in recent weeks, the buwad has become a symbolic tool of empowerment for Ducay, a member of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. – Microfinance (RAFI MFI). This product has become a staple item in RAFI’s relief packs.

With the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, RAFI, the Cebu-based Aboitiz family foundation, has tapped its RAFI MFI Nanays to help in its COVID-19 response effort in the Visayas.

The RAFI MFI Nanays that were tapped have already earned a combined P8.9 million from selling vegetables, dried fish, and monggo for RAFI’s relief packages (nine Nanays) and for sewing hazardous material suits (two Nanays) and sleeping mats (banigs) (1 Nanay).

RMF Nanays in the dried fish and vegetable distribution supply businesses provided the contents of some of the 53,000 food relief packages distributed by RAFI to local government units (LGUs) in Cebu and Bohol.

For her part, Ducay was also able to help fellow mothers by employing 20 workers to pack the buwad.

“Dako kaayo ug tabang na niorder si RAFI namo. Nagpasalamat ko kay kung wala si RAFI, wala sad gyud mi karun sa panahon ug kalisod. Agwanta lang sa ta gamay, kay naa man gyud panahon na di ta katug-an na mahitabo. Importante healthy ta ug makatabang sad pud ta sa uban (RAFI really helped us a lot by ordering goods from us. I am thankful because if it wasn’t for RAFI, we will be left with nothing in this time of crisis. The situation came unexpectedly, but we just need to hang on. What is important is that we are healthy and we are also able to help others.),” Ducay said.

Approximately 4,000 PPEs have also been sewn by RMF Nanay seamstresses and already distributed to hospitals and other organizations.

“In this time of crisis, the Aboitiz Group all the more believes in empowering affected Filipinos by offering a sustainable economic lifeline. We hope that our efforts will make a difference in helping families get back up on their feet and continue thriving in these challenging times,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer.

Banigs distributed to street dwellers and over 442 stranded passengers (mostly returning Negros Oriental residents) in the port town of Samboan, Cebu were also produced by RAFI MFI Nanays.

“Thank you RAFI for supporting the stranded passengers of Negros Oriental and Occidental who were stranded in Samboan. The municipality is forever grateful for your generosity in providing relief goods, sanitation kits, bread, banig and medicine, you are truly a hero of philanthropy in these trying times. Thank you so much for being our champion of CSR (corporate social responsibility),”  shares Vicky Calderon from the Samboan, Cebu Local government unit (LGU).

A number of LGUs remain under general community quarantine after May 15. Cebu City remains under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) while Metro Manila is now under modified ECQ.

In addition to the P195 million allotted for COVID-19-related relief operations, a total of P40.5 million was allotted for interventions focused on COVID-19 prevention, screening & treatment, bringing RAFI’s total COVID-19 response efforts to over P235.5 million to date.

These efforts include a partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Visayas for the Bayanihan COVID-19 Centers in Cebu. There are also partnerships with LGUs and various barangays to help prepare isolation areas for the COVID-19 patients; prevention initiatives including the provision of PPEs; the #HUNAW handwashing campaign; the Komunidad Kontra COVID communication campaign; and partnerships for provision of various medical supplies to DOH for its COVID-19 massive rapid testing in various LGUs.

Sustained aid in Visayas and Mindanao from Aboitiz business units

Other Aboitiz business units have also stepped up their initial COVID-19 response efforts in the Visayas and Mindanao areas.

In the Visayas, AboitizPower business units which include Visayan Electric Co., Inc., Therma Visayas, Inc., Therma Power Visayas, Inc. have joined together in donating food and PPEs in Cebu and Leyte. While in Mindanao, AboitizPower BUs Davao Light & Power Co., Inc., Hedcor, Inc., Therma South, Inc., Cotabato Light & Power Co. consolidated their efforts in donating food and medical supplies in Davao City, Cotabato City, Iligan City, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato and Datu Odin Sinulat, Cotabato. 

Previously, Aboitiz banking & financial services unit Union Bank of the Philippines has been working on the procurement of medical ventilators as proactive assistance to government hospitals, which might see a spike in patients needing respiratory aid, especially for patients testing positive for COVID-19.

To date, Aboitiz food unit Pilmico Foods Corporation, has donated nearly P1.5 million worth of food and medical supplies to areas including Cebu, Bacolod, Leyte, Iligan, and Cagayan de Oro. Pilmico has also distributed about 520,000 bread loaves to support COVID-19 frontliners and affected families in areas that include Cebu, Bacolod City, and Iligan City (in addition to earlier efforts in Metro Manila).

Another COVID-19 response spearheaded by Pilmico is its “Flour Sacks to Face Masks,” which aims to help address the ever-increasing demand for PPEs. A total of 20,000 face masks were produced from thoroughly-sanitized Pilmico flour sacks, and over 5,900 face masks were sewn by Pilmico partner tailors in Cebu City, giving the latter a steady source of income amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., which is building the Aboitiz Group’s bulk water supply project with the Davao City Water District, has contributed almost P500,000 in food and medical supplies to the Davao City LGU, Davao City Health Office, various Davao City barangays, the Southern Philippines Medical Center, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau Region XI.

Aboitiz Land, Inc. (AboitizLand) has also been active in its response efforts, particularly in Cebu. Through AboitizLand Cebu-based industrial subsidiary Mactan Economic Zone II (MEZII), assistance was extended to frontline workers and families in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, to help sustain relief efforts in anticipation of quarantine extensions.  

AboitizLand has distributed 118 boxes of canned goods and medical supplies to the Philippine National Police, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, and local communities in Cebu.

Food and PPE donations were also turned over to barangays in the towns of Balamban, Liloan, and Compostela in Cebu, Mandaue City, and Cebu City, which benefited 2,210 families. The donations were made possible through the joint efforts of Balamban EnerZone, Aboitiz Construction, Aboitiz Foundation, and AboitizLand unit Cebu Industrial Park Developers, Inc.

To date, the Aboitiz Group has contributed P1.83 billion for its COVID-19 response efforts. This excludes various payments waived, reduced, extended, or restructured to help its customers cope with the impact of COVID-19. 

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