Metro Infanta Foundation, a model for others
Below is an email we received from Jeremiah M Opiniano, Executive Director, Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI) recommending a new group of immigrants from Bansalan (we're not quite sure where it is in the Philippines) to check us out for the work that we do for Metro Infanta.
It is humbling to know that our work has been noted by the Institute for Migration and Development, which is headquartered at the University of Santo Tomas. Yet we are not alone in our mission to help our country, by helping our hometown. Some people have grandiose plans to help save the Philippines from economic ruins and don't get very far. A few of us believe that in the long run we can do the same in a more humble way by helping one town at a time.
There are more two million Filipinos in the United States alone. If expatriates from the same town pulled their resources together, that would be a tremendous help to that particular town. When the towns helped are multiplied it could very well end up helping the entire country.
Indeed the expatriates are an incredible resource very much forgotten by the Philippine media and government. In fact, I sent a letter to Babe Romualdez of the Babe's Eye view column in the Philippine Star the following, which also salutes the work of the IMDI:
I, too, salute all the OFWs who are truly the saviors of the Philippine economy. Indeed, they are great Filipino workers, and I personally know many of them. But I cannot help but feel that the Philippine press and government only talk about OFWs as though they are the only ones who are responsible for keeping the country afloat. My fellow expatriates in the United States and other countries have equally contributed to the Philippine economy, yet their contributions continue to be ignored.
For example, expatriates from Infanta, Quezon, and other neighboring towns have pulled together their resources through a small community foundation which has become a continued source of support in said town. Since its inception in 1996, it has sent more than $200,000 in grants to various causes including religious, education, humanitarian and civic. When the devastating typhoon hit Infanta, Real and General Nakar around this time in 2004, Metro Infanta expatriates sent funds totaling $30,000 immediately. In fact, the Foundation, of which I am the founding president, has a special drive to collect another $20,000 to help refurbish a high school damaged by the typhoons; and this on top of another $25,000 for our general causes.
In addition, it has facilitated more than $150,000 in funds directly from other funding agencies. This is only one of the numerous organizations in the United States and other countries that are doing many benevolent acts for the Philippines. Many of them are sending school and hospital supplies, and medical missions, building hospitals and schools, providing tuition assistance from high school through graduate schools and more.
In fact, there is an organization based at the University of Santo Tomas, which is currently collecting data of organizations with philanthropic endeavors. It is headed by Jeremiah Opiniano, who has become a tireless advocate for the work of those that have been ignored by the Philippine press and government. It would be nice to hear about them too.
From Jeremiah Opiniano
Greetings from the Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI). We are a young nonprofit doing studies and news/feature articles about you who are abroad. As Leila Rispens-Noel herself mentioned, the Institute is very interested in the work of migrants and migrant organizations like you who support the hometowns in the Philippines.
The moment I got the news that Bansalan is starting its own group, and continues to build trust among its members (particularly the website), I personally got excited. What more with the news that some of your earnings, or disposable income, is already being pooled for a gym back home? Really, that is wonderful - those small steps that can make a big difference.
The Institute is willing and able to help migrant groups (formal and informal) such as the Bansaleño group. The help that we can give, at the moment, is a simple write-up of what you are doing and spreading it to as many people possible. That kind of awareness raising will, hopefully, build confidence and entail more supporters - particularly the "undiscovered Bansaleños" abroad.
IMDI also offers information that might be useful to you. That information is contained in a website about overseas Filipinos' philanthropic support to the country. Log on to www.filipinodiasporagiving.org. There are many, many examples there of how other groups abroad help their hometowns. There are also some downloadable materials there, especially about a recent conference we held on diaspora philanthropy last June in Manila.
For one, there is this story from the Metro Infanta Foundation (www.infanta.org) in Colorado, USA that annually raises US$20,000-plus to support development needs in identified Quezon towns, not just Infanta. The story there is that MIF built on its database of 400 Infantanhins in the US and in over-five other countries. You can email Mila Glodava, MIF president, for inquiries as she is copy furnished this email. And believe me, there are more stories of this sort.
Lastly, the Institute is willing to work with migrant organizations such as yours. You are the real experts of migrant philanthropy, and the best we can offer are information and services that will further your work for the motherland. I hope you would also be interested to informally coalesce or network with other hometown associations located in other countries - not just to learn from each other, but to spread the message that localized support from Filipinos abroad works. Whatever networking to be built here will primarily run on trust, respect for each other, excitement, and very less on egoistic tendencies that many Filipinos abroad have. The common vision is helping, and we would even want to help individual migrants make informed decisions on where best to put their money for their individual and familial benefits.
I salute the startup work for Bansalan, and just tell Leila that I am just an email away. She dreamt of having a prosperous hometown, which I am sure you share such dream as well. All big things start with that first step.
More importantly, your pockets of Bansaleño hope will go a long, long way. Cheers!
653 Sanggumay Street, Mandaluyong City 1550, Philippines (+639178238260) www.filipinodiasporagiving.org, email@example.com