The message of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) is articulated and demonstrated even in the midst of CoViD19 public health crisis and the growing unjust governance in our land. This is particularly made possible by 7 budding women entrepreneurs who are being mentored by the PBCI-CFP Tribe. They are Mary, Sihaya, Annie, Wanay, Mandy, Bennette, and Diane. They are developing their own micro-enterprise and have been marketing their products and experiencing encouraging results.
These women are the Creator’s embrace of encouragement as we navigate through the oppressive system, injustices, and unpeace around us.
The people’s suffering caused by CoViD19 is exacerbated by a mix of incompetence and militarism. As of 09 July 2020, there are 51,754 total number of cases in our country. 1,314 people have died of the disease. 12,813 have recovered. The virus infections have not yet peaked. Our health agency’s testing capacity and contact tracing system are very inefficient. Among the countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has the highest rate of active cases—at 37,627. We have the lowest case recovery rate.
This global crisis is first and foremost a public health issue. And yet, our government chose to respond to the coronavirus pandemic through violent, militarized fashion. What we’re experiencing are curfews, harsh penalties for being outside, and an impoverished population descending into hunger. Since 19 June 2020, there have been 60,782 arrests and 2,692 Filipinos still detained. Even though quarantine violations are bailable offenses, those detained, mostly living on daily wages, cannot afford to bail themselves out. A number of civil society organizations have expressed that putting more people in our densely populated jail for light offenses will only exacerbate the transmissibility of the CoViD19 virus.
We are determined to see our human realities through the reality of God’s rule. We choose to evaluate the socio-political conditions around us through the Psalmist’s perspective. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14). We are reminded that PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee for Peace are ministries dedicated to articulate and demonstrate the good news of God’s rule—that of righteousness and justice, that of love and faithfulness—in our lives as individuals-in-community. We are reminded that Jesus, the human embodiment of God’s righteousness, justice, love, and faithfulness, is the center of our community; Jesus is our strength to “show and tell” the Good News that indeed, the Creator is with us in the midst of the sufferings and injustices we are experiencing. We are reminded that the Holy Spirit—the One who hovers over us and dwells within us—comforts us and energizes us as we walk with the people who are being oppressed by the structures and systems of these unjust principalities and powers.
Our liberation in Christ empowers us to imagine a radically transformed social reality. With this inner liberation, view of reality, spiritual energy, and hope-filled perseverance, we live our lives as a community. We pray. We lament. We make an inventory of what the Creator had entrusted to us as individuals and as a community. With these resources inside us and around us, we freely imagine what God can do through us and beyond us. Now then, we shout in protest. We engage in sustainable resourcing to fund our direct actions towards systemic change!
An experienced food service worker starts her own business producing healthy and nutritious loaves of bread and sells them at a just price to mothers in the urban poor areas, who in turn, sells them at a just price (that is, less expensive than commercial bread) to their neighbors. A woman and her boyfriend (both trained in community development) are being led to start farming to show-and-tell the farming community how to become ‘farmerpreneurs’ based on the knowledge bank and experience of Coffee for Peace. A young mother started producing a shrimp paste and it sells well; this delicacy enhances the taste of the local vegetables that the poor can buy with their scarce resources. An Indigenous woman organized a native weaving community, mostly women, and produced face masks being sold internationally. Another woman started a baking business and orders from around the city are coming in; the income helps sustain her volunteer work at PBCI-CFP social networking tasks. A young wife and her team are growing a supply chain of farm produce from the farmers in the provinces to the consumers in Manila and it’s expanding; a big chunk of the income are used to buy fruits-and-vegetables as part of relief distribution among Metro Manila’s urban poor communities. A young business and finance professional started her own bookkeeping and accounting services focusing specifically to the needs of social enterprises.
Mary Selorio has been involved in food services for 20 years both in the U.S. and in China. She is one of our impact investment partners at Coffee for Peace. She has been our Managing Partner at Coffee For Peace Café since 2016. Mary’s specialization are cakes and pastries. Mary’s Oven has been supplying Coffee for Peace Café with quality desserts that has been attracting new café clients. The products of Mary’s Oven, along with her cheerful customer relations skills, are significant factors in developing our long-term café clientele.
A and J Mahayahay Farm
Aldren Banal and Jobelyn Basas (Indigenous name, Sihaya Ansibod) are partners in peace and reconciliation (PAR) advocacy and in social entrepreneurial initiative. Aldren is taking the two-year full-time social entrepreneurial course at the PeaceBuilders School of Leadership, specializing in marketing. Sihaya has been with us for the past seven years—starting as an intern, then became a field operations worker, and now serving as Director of Field Operations. Sihaya belongs to the Erumanen ne Menuvu Indigenous People.
We encourage our staff, whom we see as gifted in business, to be social entrepreneurs. Aldren and Sihaya chose to explore being farmer-entrepreneurs or ‘farmerpreneurs’ and we’re committed to support them as they build up their own equities. With their own savings, they bought a vegetable and coffee farm they now refer to as A and J Mahayahay Farm, and they want to develop it as a Coffee for Peace model farm.
Annie’s Shrimp Paste
Annie Cat is our beloved Frani Catua. Her business name is “Annie.” Frani is a mother of two daughters, both in elementary school. Her husband, Jobel, works in the Middle East. Frani studied hotel and restaurant management at Philippine Women’s College in Davao City. She has been with PeaceBuilders Community since we started in 2006. She’s also a trained barista at Coffee for Peace. Annie is our full-time cook at the PBCI center, appreciated by our local, national, and international guests.
Frani produces shrimp paste, a Philippine delicacy. As an Indigenous person belonging to the Ata Manobo community, her product is prepared with native touch and at the same time handled with internationally-accepted food preparation standards. This project is a personal investment by Frani, who dreams of sharing her PAR-framed entrepreneurial skills to her fellow Ata Manobo in her home village.
Wanay S. Baluyan belongs to the Banao Indigenous People in Kalinga Province, Northern Philippines. She founded her own company called Kalinga Woven Fabrics Manufacturing. Her current main product is the Kalinga PeaceMask. Wanay finished our two-year social entrepreneurial course at the PeaceBuilders School of Leadership.
After her PAR facilitator’s training and entrepreneurial internship, she went back to her province and gathered local native weavers. They used the indigenous woven fabrics as materials for clothing, hand bags, scarves and other products. Then CoViD19 crisis came. Facemasks became a hot demand. Now, they’re getting orders nationally and internationally for their main brand—Kalinga PeaceMask.
Mandy’s Artisan Bread
Amanda Velasco-Pantoja is a multi-talented artist. She is a fashion designer by profession and a skilled business woman. During the pandemic, she found more time to develop one of her passions—baking.
We were her pilot customers. Our community began to love her line of artisan bread. Mandy’s Focaccia Bread became a favorite, first by her friends, then by her friends’ friends. Now, she’s getting orders from all over Davao City. She’s not yet planning to make this her main business. She just enjoys baking and appreciates the increasing sales. Mandy’s husband is Byron, the youngest of our three children. Mandy and Byron are the parents of our 7th grandchild—Zylie Estrella.
ProducePeace+ Wild Honey
We have shared with you the story of Bennette Grace Tenecio Mañulit and her team at Produce Peace+. The new development is that, on top of fruits and vegetable distribution, they’re now involved in marketing wild honey produced by their new partner community—an Indigenous People’s farming association on Mt. Daraitan, Province of Rizal.
We continue to be grateful to the Creator for Bennette’s husband, Norman, who works in Kuwait as a dental technician. We also pray, with much gladness, for Bennette, Maimai Lim, and their team as they manage the growth and development of Produce Peace+ social enterprise.
SE Accounting Solutions Philippines
The Social Enterprise Accounting Solutions Philippines provides business and financial consulting services specifically for social enterprises in the Philippines. This is founded and is being developed by Diane Grace A. Regencia.
In 2010, she completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting Technology at the Ateneo de Davao University. She is currently taking a second degree — Bachelor of Science in Accountancy — at the Philippine Women’s College in Davao City.
Reggie, as she prefers to be called, is our Business & Finance Specialist at PBCI-CFP. We, PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and Coffee for Peace, Inc., are SE Accounting Solutions’ first clients.