Top ranking seed company East-West Seed hosts Vegetable Field Day at Villar Sipag Farm

As part of its participation to the 25th Asian Seed Congress 2018, East-West Seed (EWS) organized a demo field in Villar SIPAG Farm in Bacoor, Cavite. Formally opened through a Field Day November 16, 2018, the EWS Demo Field showcases over 100 vegetable varieties in a unique ‘Pinoy Fiesta’ set-up.

Asian Seed Congress delegates and media guests were greeted by Sen. Cynthia Villar, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food. “We are glad that East-West Seed has chosen this as the venue for the East-West Seed Field Day 2018.”

She also thanked EWS for partnering with Villar SIPAG in the training programs and its generosity in sharing expertise in vegetable farming.

“East-West Seed developed these vegetable varieties with the aim to improve the lives and incomes of smallholder farmers around the world and to help give better nutrition to consumers,” said Mike Dela Paz, Product Manager of East-West Seed.

#1 in South and Southeast Asia

This commitment was recently highlighted in a recognition received by East-West Seed at the Asian Seed Congress 2018. The independent organization Access to Seeds revealed EWS to be number 1 out of 24 companies in in serving smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia.

The Access to Seeds Index is measuring and ranking seed companies according to their efforts to improve access to quality seeds of improved varieties to support smallholder farmer productivity.

For over three decades, East-West Seed has served over 18 million smallholder farmers worldwide to increase their productivity and incomes. Part of their efforts have been to provide and breed specific needs of their clients, selling seeds in small packages, and providing training to farmers. It is this business model that proves and supports the goal of the Access to Seed Index which is to bridge the gap between the world’s leading seed companies and the smallholder farmer.

“We are deeply proud of this achievement as it reflects our continued mission to improve the lives of farmers one seed at a time,” said Henk Hermans, EWS General Manager in the Philippines.

“Better Seeds for a Better World”

With the theme, “Better Seeds for a Better World,” the field demo features a wide range of vegetable varieties that produce better yield, thrive in changing conditions, and have traits that are attractive to vegetable consumers.

It also boasts unique varieties including rounded eggplant, butternut pumpkin, purple waxy-sweet corn, and purple yardlong bean.

This event also has an interactive component with East-West Seed’s catalog app CropWiki which was launched last 2017. CropWiki contains detailed information on over 900 of East-West Seed’s vegetable varieties. Filled with physical and genetic crop information, the app can help increase farmers’ income because it provides knowledge needed to make informed decisions in farming.

East-West Seed will also hold Field Days for the public on November 21 to 23 in their demo fields in Villar SIPAG Farm and in the University of the Philippines – Los Banos. Urban gardening workshops, cooking demos, learning sessions with farmers, and a career day for students will be held during these field days and will be offered for FREE to everyone.

GLOBAL SEED EXPERTS GATHER FOR THE 25TH ASIAN SEED CONGRESS IN THE PH Millions worth of business expected to be generated

Hundreds of seed experts, traders and buyers from all over the world are now in the Philippines for the 25th Asian Seed Congress (ASC), the biggest gathering of seed industry players in the world. The ASC is jointly organized by the Asia Pacific Seed Association (APSA) and the Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA). This is the third time that Philippines is hosting this prestigious seed conference.

APSA is the biggest regional seed trade association with more than 600 members from 50 countries, accounting for more than one third of the global seed trade. Since it’s inauguration in 1994 in Chang Mai, Thailand, this exclusive event has attracted close to 2,000 delegates annually, including key executives, officials, legislators and scientists who all share a common stake in the development, production, distribution, regulation, and trade of quality seeds.

Anchored on the concept, “Seed the Future,” the Congress also hopes to reinforce the significant role that the largely ignored tiny seed play in our daily lives, as the main source of our food, clothes, fuel, among other things.

“The Philippines is proud to once again host this year’s Asian Seed Congress, especially as it celebrates its 25th year. Our annual gathering is something that all of us in the seed industry look forward to because it is the time where, together, we learn new seed technologies, exchange views on regulatory trends, network for seed trading, reconnect with colleagues in the industry, experience, explore opportunities for farmers to further grow their businesses, and jointly discuss strategies on how to better promote and protect the industry. We are also excited on the business that will be generated in the trading tables knowing that our regional seed industry is the strongest around the world,” PSIA President Mary Ann Sayoc adds.

APSA President Brenda Dossey for her part said that the organization’s growth to become the largest regional seed association in the world is through the cooperation of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Danish International Development Agency aimed at promoting quality seed production and marketing in the Asia and Pacific Region. Dossey adds that APSA has already established strong linkages with international organizations for economic cooperation and development.

For her part, APSA Secretariat Acting Director May Chodchoey said that “the Asian Seed Congress facilitates a prime opportunity for stakeholders to get together in one place where delegates can network, grow their business and get updates on the latest industry developments and technologies, to gain an edge in the most populous and lucrative region in the world.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said that while the Philippines may be regarded as one of the emerging leaders, there is still a necessity to explore additional growth in this sector and ensure that is protected by the right regulatory framework. Villar filed Senate Bill 322, which seeks to set up a continuing national program for hybrid and other quality seeds production which hopes to complement the existing SEED Industry Development Act (SIDA).

The two-decade old SIDA is up for amendment and the seed industry is excited looking forward to additional measures that will improve, safeguard and strengthen the country’s seed industry.

The power to choose the number, timing and spacing of children can bolster economic and social development, new UNFPA report shows

The global trend towards smaller families is a reflection of people making reproductive choices. “The historic transition to lower fertility has emerged through people claiming their right to make choices about their reproductive lives, and to have as few, or as many, children as they want, when they want,” according to The State of World Population 2018, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.

Family size is closely linked with reproductive rights, which, in turn, are tied to many other rights, including the right to adequate health, education, and jobs. Where people can exercise their rights, they tend to thrive. Where these rights are stifled, people often fail to achieve their full potential, impeding economic and social progress, according to the new report, entitled, “The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition.”

When a woman has the power and means to prevent or delay a pregnancy, for example, she has more control over her health and can enter or stay in the paid labour force and realize her full economic potential.
The report found that there is no country that can claim that all of its citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times. Most couples cannot have the number of children that they want because they either lack economic and social support to achieve their preferred family size, or the means to 17 October 2018

United Nations Population Fund 15/F North Tower, Rockwell Business Center Sheridan, Sheridan cor United
Sts., Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City 1550 Philippines
philippines.unfpa.org Tel.: +63 2 902 9131 Email: phl.co@unfpa.org
control their fertility. The unmet need for modern contraception prevents hundreds of millions of women in the world from choosing smaller families.

The Philippines is the second largest country among the 10 ASEAN members, and its population is fast growing with the highest total fertility rate in the ASEAN. Over half of Filipinos are 24 years of age or below. “For this youthful country to reap a demographic dividend, there is an imminent need to invest more in health, education and employability of young people and on gender equality,” said Iori Kato, UNFPA Country Representative in the Philippines. However, many Filipino adolescents and youth have been left behind. Challenges include that 49 per cent of unmarried, sexually active women and 17 per cent of married women have an unmet need for family planning, as the 2017 National Demographic and Health survey revealed. And one in five girls age 19 is either pregnant or has given birth.

“Millions of Filipinos would benefit from having the power to choose whether and when to have children, and how many children to have,” said Kato. “If you can plan your family, you can plan your life,” he added.

Choice can be a reality everywhere

The report classifies all countries in the world by the current dynamics of their populations’ fertility. It makes specific recommendations for policies and programs that would help each country increase reproductive choices.

In the Philippines, UNFPA looks forward to continued partnership with the government and all stakeholders through the newly approved 8th Country Programme for 2019-2023, in ensuring that all Filipinos, especially those furthest behind, have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services and thereby make choices on some of the most significant and intimate aspects of their lives.

The UNFPA Country Programme will continue to support the acceleration of universal access to quality reproductive health care, particularly modern contraceptives, as well as comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in accordance with international standards. Technical assistance will also be

United Nations Population Fund 15/F North Tower, Rockwell Business Center Sheridan, Sheridan cor United
Sts., Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City 1550 Philippines
philippines.unfpa.org Tel.: +63 2 902 9131 Email: phl.co@unfpa.org
provided towards dismantling those barriers—whether economic, social or institutional—that inhibit free and informed choice.

***

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA reaches millions of women and young people in 155 countries and territories, including the Philippines.
For more information, please contact:
Mario Villamor: Tel.: +63 917 302 6699; villamor@unfpa.org
You can access the report at https://www.unfpa.org/swop
Follow UNFPA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Pan-Asian insurer FWD and non-profit Humanity & Inclusion to help hundreds of young people with disabilities in Asia find employment

FWD Life Insurance, the most exciting insurance brand in the country, together with its partner Humanity & Inclusion (formerly known as Handicap International, an independent international aid organization), celebrated the beginning of the Forward Together project, helping young people with disabilities find employment opportunities in the Philippines and beyond.

Through the regional partnership initially announced by the insurer in the first half of 2018, both
organizations will work towards advocating equal opportunities and empowering people with
disabilities in Asia. With FWD Group investing USD 1million, the Forward Together project will train
at least 380 youth with disabilities in the Philippines and Indonesia and help them secure sustainable
employment or business opportunities.

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“FWD Life Philippines aims to end the stigma that disability corresponds to inability,” FWD Life
Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Grimes said. “Through our partnership with
Humanity & Inclusion, we hope to provide a platform for people with disabilities to showcase their
strengths and abilities. We want to encourage everyone to help create a future with a difference for
people with disabilities with opportunities to become valuable and equal contributors to the
community.”

“Developing countries are encouraged to invest in youth, but unfortunately, young people with
disabilities are usually overlooked in employment and entrepreneurship opportunities,” said Bryan
Andrew Marsalis, Humanity & Inclusion Regional Operation Coordinator. “That is why we are very
delighted to have such strong support from FWD Group in our advocacy of improving the lives of
youth with disabilities. Through this project, we will work with selected employers – including FWD
Group – across the two target countries to improve their capacity to employ youth with disabilities.”
“At FWD, we are committed to promoting social inclusion and active participation of persons with
disabilities, and are very excited to kick start our work with Humanity & Inclusion,” said FWD Life
Philippines Head of Marketing and Community Care Country Lead Roche Vandenberghe. “With the
Forward Together project, we are enabling businesses and organizations such as ours to become
catalysts for quality job creation.”

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FWD Life Philippines and Humanity & Inclusion celebrated the beginning of its Forward Together
project with a media event, an interactive visual language activity, and escape room challenge
participated by volunteers from both organizations as well as members of the media, held on
October 17, 2018 at Century City Mall in Makati City.

About FWD Philippines

FWD Life Insurance Corporation (“FWD Life”) is the first life insurance company licensed by the Insurance Commission of the Philippines under the new Insurance Code. FWD launched its commercial operations in September 2014. By March 2017, FWD Life is the highest-capitalized life insurer in the Philippines with PhP 2.3 billion in paid-up capitalization.1 Base on premium income data published by the Insurance Commission2, FWD Life now ranks 10th in the insurance industry in
terms of weighted new business premiums.3 FWD Group spans Hong Kong & Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan, offering life and medical insurance, general insurance, and employee benefits across a number of its markets. Established in Asia in 2013, FWD is the insurance business arm of investment group, Pacific Century Group. In the Philippines, FWD has 12 business hubs located in key cities nationwide with its headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

FWD is focused on creating fresh customer experiences, with easy-to-understand products, supported by digital technology. Through this customer-led approach, FWD aims to become a leading pan-Asian insurer that changes the way people feel about insurance.
For more information, please visit fwd.com.ph
1 www.insurance.gov.ph> Statistics > 2017 > Based on Paid-Up Capital
2 www.insurance.gov.ph> Statistics > 2017 > Based on Premium Income
3 Weighted New Business Premium Income: 100% of first-year premium on regular-pay plans + 10% of single-pay premiums

About Humanity & Inclusion

Founded in 1982 in refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border, co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, Humanity &
Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) is an independent and impartial organization working in situations of
poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster.

We work alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, taking action and bearing witness in order to
respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental
rights.

Outraged by the injustice faced by people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, we aspire to a world of solidarity
and inclusion, enriched by our differences, where everyone can live in dignity.

At present, Humanity & Inclusion works in 59 countries globally, with additional offices in 8 high-income countries.
For more information, please visit www.handicapinternational.ph.

Caritas Manila Holds Celebrity Bazaar on October 18

Caritas Manila will hold its second Celebrity Bazaar on October 18, Thursday from 1-10pm on the 2nd level of the Mega Atrium of SM Megamall. Entrance fee is P500 per person.

The bazaar will feature pre-loved luxury items up for sale from generous celebrity donors Heart Evangelista, Alden Richards, Ruffa Gutierrez, Dr. Vicki Bello, Scarlet Snow Belo, Cristalle Bello, Bang Pineda, Teacher Georcelle, Toni Gonzaga, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Vice Ganda, Iza Calzado, Divine Lee, Jinkee Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao and premier designers Michael Cinco and Cary Santiago. Heart Evangelista is this year’s Event Ambassador.

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Proceeds from this year’s bazaar will benefit the Youth Servant Leadership and Education Program (YSLEP) of Caritas Manila. The program sends and supports less fortunate but deserving students nationwide to their college or university of choice.

The first Caritas Manila Celebrity Bazaar was held 2 years ago with former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach as Event Ambassador. The bazaar earned enough funds to support 5,000 YSLEP Scholars. At any given time, there are between 3,000 to 5,000 YSLEP scholars nationwide. Figures show that providing a youth a college or vocational degree gives him a 98 per cent chance of helping his family overcome poverty.

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“We at Caritas Manila are so grateful for the generosity and enthusiasm of these celebrities to help YSLEP scholars,” comments Fr. Anton CT Pascual, Caritas Manila Executive Director. Their assistance will go a long way in proving education and support can help realize the potentials of our future leaders coming from the ranks of the poor.”

“To date, more than 10,000 YSLEP scholars have graduated from college and vocational schools nationwide especially from the poorest provinces.”

Caritas Manila is one of the biggest non-profit organizations in the country led by its chairman, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

For more information, visit Caritas Manila at 2002 Jesus Street, Pandacan, Manila or call 562-0020 to 25, email caritas_manila@yahoo.com, or log on to www.caritasmanila.org.ph.

Hamilo Coast & WWF: Nurturing a Sustainable Partnership

The Philippines ranks third in plastic pollution in terms of dumping plastic into our oceans. This is largely caused by inefficient waste disposal in the country and poor awareness of the problem. Because of this, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, has been closely involved in coastal cleanups and other initiatives around the country to instill the importance of tackling this issue.

On its 11th landmark year, Hamilo Coast and WWF-Philippines’ partnership now stands firmly on environmental programs aimed at not just ending plastic pollution but also at preserving its surrounding nature. Hamilo Coast, with the help of WWF-Philippines, has gone way beyond annual coastal cleanups and has carefully planted sustainability within its day to day operations.

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Warriors of the Waters

Acknowledging that everything that happens on the ridge has a direct effect on the reef, WWF-Philippines and Hamilo Coast continue to implement programs for its Ridge to Reef Management. This includes the declaration of Hamilo Coast’s three coves into Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – Pico de Loro and Etayo coves, and Hamilo Coast’s main marine sanctuary, Santelmo Cove, where giant clams are being cultivated and a vibrant marine life thrive. Ongoing projects to protect coastal and terrestrial resources include mangrove reforestation, pawikan conservation, marine mammal rescue, and reef monitoring.

From Solid Waste to Zero Waste

With efforts to keep the property and surroundings clean and green, WWF-Philippines developed a solid waste management plan for Pico de Loro Cove at Hamilo Coast, including a vermicomposting site aimed at attaining zero green wastes to be sent to landfill.

Early this 2018, Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club and Pico Sands Hotel shifted a few of its operations to become more environmental friendly. The use of plastics have been replaced with paper straws and cups, good grade stirrers, and takeaway packs, which will eradicate the dumping of non-biodegradable waste of 180,000 plastic straws and 27,000 plastic stirrers annually.

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The Club and Hotel also partnered with WWF-Philippines in implementing a food waste management system, an initiative aimed at urging staff, members, and guests to be more conscious about food resources and waste. With leftover rice noted as one of the highest food waste contributor in the property, the restaurants’ menus now offer rice separately, also considering diners who are non-rice eaters. A campaign to encourage guests to only get the food they can consume in a buffet was also launched in the middle of the year.

Keeping a resort development clean involves maximum effort. Water quality is regularly tested and monitored while waste water from the different locators within Pico de Loro Cove at Hamilo Coast are processed and recycled to keep the lush landscapes clean and green.

Living in Harmony with Nature

Green building strategies were carefully considered in Pico de Loro Cove’s latest luxury beach condominium development, Freia. This mid-rise contemporary tropical condominium building, which offers a spectacular panorama of the sea and verdant mountains, takes pride in its features that allow sustainable green living and consider cost-efficient operations. For instance, natural lighting and ventilation was considered in the building design and solar energy will be used for certain common areas. An efficient waste management system will also ensure reduced carbon footprints on the part of the residential community, thus promising a lifestyle that is not just close to nature but is one with its surrounding environmental bounties.

Through the years, Hamilo Coast continues to champion sustainable practices through luxury seaside living at par with environmental awareness. Achievements and recognitions, such as its Bronze Benchmark Status from Earth Check in 2015 and 2017, and its exemplary practice on solid waste management given by the Department of Natural Resource’s Annual Environmental Summit in 2017, proves Hamilo Coast is not just a destination, but is also becoming a premier sustainable beach resort community.

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Hamilo Coast is the SM Group’s premier beach resort town in Nasugbu, Batangas, approximately 90 minutes from Manila via Cavitex and the new Ternate-Nasugbu Road. Its maiden development, Pico de Loro Cove is home to the Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club, an exclusive membership club with a plethora of land- and sea-based recreational facilities, and the Pico Sands Hotel, a seven storey, 154-room hotel offering spacious rooms with modern amenities and captivating views of the lush mountains and tranquil lagoon. For inquiries, call (632) 945-8000, or visit www.hamilocoast.com.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines has been successfully implementing various conservation projects since 1997 to help protect some of the most biologically-significant ecosystems in Asia. For more information, visit wwf.org.ph.

Pico de Loro Cove is one of several marine protected areas in Hamilo Coast where marine life is preserved and enhanced in partnership with WWF-Philippines since 2007

Together We Ride Stronger: Shell Solidifies Support for Local Biking Community

Kicking off at Baguio City last July, Shell Bike Fair wraps up this year’s festivities with a bang this Saturday, September 22 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City.

The biker community in the Philippines has grown exponentially as more and more riders consider two-wheeled vehicles as a more practical and convenient mode of transport. Based on the latest statistics from LTO, the number of registered motor vehicles in the Philippines has grown to 10.5 million as of 2017.

Pilipinas Shell, a reliable partner of the biker community, in making their rides better celebrates the courage and resilience of bikers as they take their daily journeys despite the difficulties that they face in weaving through obstacles on the road.

“This day is really to express how grateful we are for the support that we received from the Filipino biking community,” said Shell V-Power Brand Manager, Mark Malabanan. “As our theme says, together we ride stronger. We are honored to be chosen as their partner on the road, being there with them through the years. And, as we have for more than a hundred years, Pilipinas Shell continues to strive to make life’s journeys better for all motorists.”

Participants were treated to special offers from Shell and event sponsors as well as exciting games and booth activities. Performances by Rico Blanco, Rocksteddy, and other local acts also rocked the event alongside celebrity guests Daiana Menezes, Yam Concepcion, and Phoebe Walker.

Five winners each brought home scooters or motorcycles that were raffled off as major prizes: Honda CBR150, Yamaha Mio i125, and Suzuki Raider J115. The biker community was also given the chance to express their creativity through the Modified Bike and Helmet Design contests.

The highlight of the day was the announcement of the big winner of Shell Outriders: the nationwide search for the best bike club.

A total of 17 finalists representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao were picked out through careful screening of hundreds of entries received over the past two months. The chosen clubs set up creative displays at the convention hall to showcase their love for riding and how they exhibit personal and social courage. The champions received a cash prize of PHP 100,000.00 and fuel vouchers worth PHP 50,000.00.

“We put up this search because we want to recognize bike clubs who exemplify the brand values and ideals of Shell. We were amazed to see how passionate they are for what they do and how they push to continue to outride anything.” said Shell Advance Brand Manager, Lorrie Ramirez.

This year’s Shell Bike Fair was made possible by Shell Advance and Shell V-Power, led by their passion to be the most reliable partners on the road. As a global leader in power and energy, Shell continually works to deliver smarter products and cleaner energy solutions.

Shell Advance motorcycle & scooter oils and Shell V-Power premium fuels work together in providing complete engine protection and world-class performance and efficiency on the road. With these, riders are empowered to outride the challenges that they encounter on the road.

For more information, visit www.shell.com.ph.

Rise Against Hunger Shows the World That it is Possible to End Hunger

The country’s beacons of joy come together to launch Rise Against Hunger’s ‘This is possible.’ Campaign in the Philippines

Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief non-profit organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable. In line with the celebration of their 20th year, the organization has launched “This is possible,” a global movement to end world hunger by 2030 — a vision aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #2.

On August 31, Rise Against Hunger Philippines officially launches this campaign with “Beacons of Joy,” a gathering held at the Conrad Hotel Manila to shine the light on those who have made extraordinary efforts in rising against hunger and bringing joy and relief to communities across the country.

The event included messages from Rise Against Hunger’s various partners and stakeholders—government representatives, corporate partners, impact partners, and beneficiaries—the beacons of joy to the Filipinos in need. Outside the event, hundreds of passersby witnessed the campaign’s launch with a video display at the Mall of Asia Globe on Friday evening.

“Our mission is to end hunger in our lifetime, and the first real step is to activate a worldwide movement,” said Tom Barbitta, Chief Marketing Officer of Rise Against Hunger. “It will take the help and support from the global community to accomplish this goal, but with participation, financial contribution, volunteerism and heart, each person can change the life of another and put an end to suffering from starvation.”

Around the world, just over 815 million people lack adequate food. One in nine people go to bed hungry each night. Rise Against Hunger works to meet immediate nutritional needs today and empower the ability to build strong, resilient communities tomorrow.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines is the latest in the organization’s twenty-five U.S. and five international locations to take part in the “This is possible.” campaign. In 2014, Rise Against Hunger opened a dedicated location in the Philippines, led by Executive Director Jomar Fleras, following the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Since its inception, Rise Against Hunger Philippines has packaged over 252 million meals. In 2018, the organization established the Good Food Grocer, the country’s first food bank sells nutritious food at discount prices, as well as distributes food to informal settlers and children in daycare centers.

“Rise Against Hunger, its donors, volunteers and beneficiaries join the global community in ending hunger by 2030. With the ‘Power of We,’ 2030 is possible,” said Fleras.

The “This is possible.” campaign was first launched in February 2018 in New York City, where thousands of people joined together in Times Square to sign pledges to end hunger. The campaign was created to build awareness and drive a global movement to end hunger by the year 2030. So far, the initiative has also been launched in Italy, Malaysia, India and South Africa.

is Possible to End Hunger

The country’s beacons of joy come together to launch Rise Against Hunger’s ‘This is possible.’ Campaign in the Philippines

Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief non-profit organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable. In line with the celebration of their 20th year, the organization has launched “This is possible,” a global movement to end world hunger by 2030 — a vision aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #2.

On August 31, Rise Against Hunger Philippines officially launches this campaign with “Beacons of Joy,” a gathering held at the Conrad Hotel Manila to shine the light on those who have made extraordinary efforts in rising against hunger and bringing joy and relief to communities across the country.

The event included messages from Rise Against Hunger’s various partners and stakeholders—government representatives, corporate partners, impact partners, and beneficiaries—the beacons of joy to the Filipinos in need. Outside the event, hundreds of passersby witnessed the campaign’s launch with a video display at the Mall of Asia Globe on Friday evening.

“Our mission is to end hunger in our lifetime, and the first real step is to activate a worldwide movement,” said Tom Barbitta, Chief Marketing Officer of Rise Against Hunger. “It will take the help and support from the global community to accomplish this goal, but with participation, financial contribution, volunteerism and heart, each person can change the life of another and put an end to suffering from starvation.”

Around the world, just over 815 million people lack adequate food. One in nine people go to bed hungry each night. Rise Against Hunger works to meet immediate nutritional needs today and empower the ability to build strong, resilient communities tomorrow.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines is the latest in the organization’s twenty-five U.S. and five international locations to take part in the “This is possible.” campaign. In 2014, Rise Against Hunger opened a dedicated location in the Philippines, led by Executive Director Jomar Fleras, following the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Since its inception, Rise Against Hunger Philippines has packaged over 252 million meals. In 2018, the organization established the Good Food Grocer, the country’s first food bank sells nutritious food at discount prices, as well as distributes food to informal settlers and children in daycare centers.

“Rise Against Hunger, its donors, volunteers and beneficiaries join the global community in ending hunger by 2030. With the ‘Power of We,’ 2030 is possible,” said Fleras.

The “This is possible.” campaign was first launched in February 2018 in New York City, where thousands of people joined together in Times Square to sign pledges to end hunger. The campaign was created to build awareness and drive a global movement to end hunger by the year 2030. So far, the initiative has also been launched in Italy, Malaysia, India and South Africa.

Mental Health Matters

With successive incidents of suicide among notable celebrities here and abroad, there is now a strong call to promote good mental health among people suffering from various mental health disorders. Now, it is not just enough to provide emotional support, belongingness, understanding and compassion. There is also a strong need to spread enough information, how to know if one is suffering from mental issues, especially those undergoing various amounts of physical and emotional stress that can be too hard to handle, much more ignore.

To stress further the need to spread more information about mental health issues, Mental Health Matters (MHM) recently celebrated its 1st anniversary through its “Mental Health Matters Fair.” The event, which was held at the Crown Spaces in Makati City and opened to the public, was organized by the group and Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, herself an advocate of good mental health and who once underwent bouts with depression.

The fair featured several inspirational talks from guest speakers from the medical profession and the legislative sector, free psychiatric consultations, art exhibits, live performances, and interactive and imaginative booths and was open to the public. Priority access, however, was provided to the MHM Support Group and the Anxiety and Disorder Support Philippines (ADSP).

The whole-day affair started with psychiatrists from the Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPS) and Talang Dalisay, a nongovernmental organization, who jointly provided professional psychiatric advice for free to select attendees. Both are partners of MHM.

The afternoon started with a talk by Senator Risa Hontiveros, author and principal sponsor of the bill that became Republic Act 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte recently. She said mental health struggles among Filipinos are very complex. “Today and every day, you are not alone,” she assures those present.

She said the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) is now being developed under the Department of Health, particularly on seeking increase in access to services up to the community level, a progressive “referral” system, on-campus anti-discrimination and anti-stigma program, and inclusion of non-medical interventions to health and healing.

Verzosa, a strong advocate of mental health since her reign, said she organized the event for the benefit of everyone who has been struggling and who has survived. She also called on people undergoing depression to not be afraid to seek help. “Get help by talking to someone. Let’s speak up about mental health before it’s too late.” Dr. Gia Sison, a breast cancer survivor and a Youth for Mental Health Coalition national adviser, meanwhile, provided invaluable advice, particularly on developing mental strength to help overcome failures.

There were also other speakers who shared their mental health advocacies. UST student Reymark Simbulan, a member of the LGBTQ community who also suffered from depression, shared many important things about finding one’s anchors, not giving up because it will get better, and knowing that God will make us stronger. He also noted that “members of the LGBTQ community are almost three times likely to experience mental health problems like depression,” he said.

Diet coach Nadine Tengco, meanwhile, said food has a profound effect in addressing one’s mental health while Mariella Tung, a pastry chef, shared her story of resilience and recovery. “I finally came out to people about depression and became strong because of my son, my anchor. Every day, I remind myself of that one person.” Kates Ante, head of operations at ADSP, explained how “laughter yoga” works, and said the art pieces in the exhibit were masterpieces of people with mental health problems. Rachelle Jardin, a former media researcher, filmmaker and poet, meanwhile, said her team is working on an idea of a social enterprise for mental health.

Mental Health Matters is an online support group established for people experiencing various forms of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders. The group also offers seminars to spread awareness about mental health in many universities nationwide. For more information about the group, go to www.Facebook.com/mentalhealthmattersbykylieverzosa.

Pfizer Philippines Foundation Inc. continues to save lives

Pfizer’s non-profit arm, Pfizer Philippines Foundation Inc., (PPFI) together with the Philippine Blood Center, recently conducted an intercompany blood drive as one of the organization’s volunteerism projects. Over 100 volunteers took part in the initiative, exceeding the foundation’s target number of blood bags for the day.

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“For over 20 years, PPFI has been working with different organizations to execute programs that help improve healthcare access for Filipinos,” Geoffrey Garcia, PPFI Manager, says.

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“Blood is a precious gift that we can give to patients suffering from life-threatening conditions. Through the blood donation of our generous volunteers, we are able to play a part in helping save lives,” he added.

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