One of the SM Foundation Inc. projects in Batangas. Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Whenever I sip coffee in mornings, my heart yearns for greater scenery. It keeps me wandering for my next trip. You know, every nation has a distinct culture and subculture. It makes me curious how they live, what they eat and when they seek new potential. We, who reside at urban areas, only notice lavish architecture and white-collar folks. We subjugate some ethnicity by labeling them as ‘uncivilized’ humans. Sometimes we just don’t visualize how can we understand and help them better. It’s a premise I told myself to prove wrong.

Apparently, I learn that SMFI (SM Foundation Incorporated) advocates volunteerism and livelihood scheme for the (disadvantaged) communities. The stigma I have for the SM as an economic crusher on smaller merchandise, in every probable province, has gone. Instead, they love helping people! Imagine a prosperous large scale business still do a charity or any similar? Barely have I known SM aside from being a stunning market of invaluable items. Yes, I am a down-the-line consumer.

Nasugbu, Batangas is one of the SMFI project areas (Batch 2009-2015).Particularly, Barangay Calayo, Buihan, Looc and Papaya who have partaken as recipients. SM has already over 1,400 beneficiaries in that area. Their program entails the following:

  • Animal Dispersal Project (Hog, Goat, Carabao and Chicken)
  • Skills Training (Hospitality, Food Processing, Entrepreneurial)
  • Social Development and Relations Program (Day Care Center Storytelling, SM Youth Camp and Pistang Pinoy)

For more information, visit: SM Foundation

They accompanied us to the beneficiaries located at Batangas. The road paved its way even if mountains slope so high. When you look around, tranquil beaches and lush green field calm your senses. You can sense a juxtaposition over this rural area. I began to ponder what culture Batangeños have.

We just started our road trip. Let me narrate their wonderful progresses.

Looc National Highschool_1
SM Foundation Summer Youth Camp (culminating activity). Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Looc National Highschool_3
(left to right) Cristina Angeles SMFI Assistant Vice President, Reynato Garcia KSK President and Chie Garcia Agriculturist – Project Supervisor  Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Our vehicle stopped at Looc National High School, Brgy. Looc. Currently, the batch were conducting a culminating activity. They are categorized under the Social Development and Relations Program. NOINM (No One In Need Movement) is one of the volunteer groups which SM also associates in teaching. NC I & NC II (TESDA collaboration) was seen as a capable curriculum for these learners. They are approximately aged 14-21 years old. Most of them are out of school but considered “employable”. Some are harder to teach due to their cultural disparity. But patience, reward system and spiritual class worked out the stubbornness. Today I congratulate them for gained new knowledge and rich experiences out of their “schooling”.

Victor Cundicion Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Tomatoes Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Next ride paused at the Sitio Pulong Bato, Brgy. Buihan. Under our spotlight interview is Mr. Victor Cundicion, a 46 years old farmer. He is a Goat Dispersal beneficiary (under Animal Dispersal Project). He also took the Farmers’ Training last 2009. According to him: infrastructure, poultry and goat raising were greatly augmented by the SMFI. He was very grateful over SMFI’s incomparable passion to help. Other crops he cultivates are wheat, okra, papaya and sitaw and famous tomatoes which is sold by 25-40 pesos per kilo. He also markets talong for 25-40 pesos per kilo. His 18 years old son, who loved farming, visions to prolong his father’s legacy.

Ariel D_2
Ariel Destreza Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Ariel D_1
Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Another Goat Dispersal beneficiary was Mr. Ariel Destreza of Sitio Sentro, Brgy. Buihan. Goat raising was one of their utmost passion. They owned a 3-year old couple goat. Inside his backyard were breeds of goat, cow and carabao. He also cultures vegetation beside his backyard. SMFI aided the marketing, livelihood, opportunities and growth for them.

Eduardo Masenas Sr. Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Poultry Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Eduardo and his wife. Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Located at Sitio Ibayo, Brgy. Looc is where Mr. Eduardo Masenas Sr. lives a simple life. SMFI has helped them economically through Animal Dispersal program. He was a Carabao Dispersal Beneficiary dated 2009. He has a wife, four children and two grandchildren. Problems have passed yet this happy couple cast bliss over us. I notice their amused smile every time they speak. They told us SMFI gave them one carabao. It must be turned over to next beneficiary after a year of new-born breeding. Ultimately, from his one carabao, he now manages to have a free-range chicken and hog raising. Thanks to SMFI support.

Macario Papa Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Under SKILLS TRAINING category, Dressmaking beneficiary Mr. Macario Papa fabricates us his noble works. He’s passionate on sewing and eager to upgrade his abilities. Located at the SitioSentro, Brgy. Looc, this 55-year old man earns at least 500 pesos per day. During his training, he learnt “cut and sew” method, pattern-making and other methodology. Uniforms (250 pesos/pair), shorts (any variant) and gown are what his clients mostly order.

Merlita Tenorio Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Ms. Merlita Tenorio, primarily a Barangay Health Worker, became a Cosmetology Training Beneficiary dated 2013. She majored course like Manicure and Pedicure but thru SM Foundation Inc., her knowledge extended. She now defines sensitivity of each person’s nail and cleans it better. She do home service or part-time too.

calayo safe_2
CALAYO SAFE GROUP (left to right) Ruby R. Ordonio, Cristina C. Quiroz, Juliana T. Bohol and Crisele R. Robledo Copyright photo of Marian Torres
calayo safe_1
Beachfront Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Then we have reach a beachfront area. I was ready to swim! Just kidding! A registered cooperative named CALAYO SAFE GROUP has welcome us. Curious enough I ask them why named after it? ‘Safety’ and ‘security’ were the keywords on their emerging livelihood. They want people to feel what a rightful management is. They are Entrepreneurial Training Beneficiary aligned to the DSWD’s Community driven Enterprise Development Strategy (CEDED). DSWD budgeted each member with approximately 10,000 pesos. Calayo safe group is headed by Ms. Roberta (Ruby) B. Ordonio and members are Ms. Cristina C. Quiroz,  Ms. Juliana T. Bohol,  Ms. Crisele R. Robledo and Ms. Celerina V. Castellejos. The group focused at Fish Vending and Fish Processing on training. Afterwards, they have established a Sari-Sari Store (particularly Halo-Halo, wine, fish and grocery items). Worth of 330 pesos a day is the target for each member as their sales contribution. By 2017, they shall return 50,000 pesos net to the SM-DSWD partnership. Aside from returns, they profited already! Now that’s a great news! Routines such as eliminated tsismis days, housewife duties alone has gone for them. They are very grateful for this opportunity.

Pico De Loro Beach & Country Club Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Copyright photo of Marian Torres

One of my favorite areas in Batangas is PICO DE LORO. A dream come true, we went there. You know what’s exciting? They have PICO DE LORO Beneficiaries! Project partners are KABALIKAT SA KABUHAYAN NASUGBU LIVELIHOOD BENEFICIARIES (KSK), TESDA, TAAL VISTA TAGAYTAY (TRAINING GROUND)and SM FOUNDATION INC. We have interviewed some beneficiaries named Mr. Roberto, Ms. Jen, Ms.Abegail and Mr. Jhosua.

(left to right) Jhosua, Abegail, Jen and Roberto Copyright photo of Marian Torres
Copyright photo of Marian Torres

Roberto is a Room Attendant/Housekeeper and lives at Brgy. Bulihan. Training benefits let him learn better social communication and in depth wisdom on housekeeping. “Nahubog ang pagkatao ko rito.” he told us. Jen is also a Room Attendant/Housekeeper. She was a Food and Beverage Trainee. She no longer feels “taong bahay lang”. While Abegail, a Massage Therapist/SPA from Brgy. Papaya, mastered a professional massage. It has serving a double purpose. She can massage clients as well as her family. She was feeling lucky to be chosen for training. Social communication, broader knowledge and extensive benefits are what she got. Jhosua is currently a Landscape Supervisor. Baler, Aurora is where he originally lives. He has been landscaping for 8 years wholeheartedly. He is an Educational Training beneficiary. Purpose of practicing it is to boost his knowledge, self-esteem and communication. He also took Food and Beverage TESDA course.

It has been an exhilarating encounter for me. As I rest beside beachfront, I reflected on everything I saw that day. I was even luckier to have my needs. Good to know that there are Samaritans alongside who wishes to extend whatever means of help to the needy. Glad to know how the SM Foundation Inc. works it magic on elevating others’ life condition.


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