RAFI Triennial awardees to use cash prize for tree nursery, project expansion

(L-R) Rene “Tatay Ete” Vendiola, Ramon Aboitiz Awardee for Exemplary Individual, and Manuel Margate who serve as client service department manager of Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) that was declared Eduardo Aboitiz Awardee for Outstanding Institution, raised the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. Triennial Awards trophies during the award ceremony last March 22 at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Preserving the environment does not need a high educational attainment but it requires a high degree of passion and love for nature.

These characteristics are manifested by self-made environmentalist, Rene “Tatay Ete” Vendiola, who is a high school dropout and former kaingin farmer but managed to set up a Liptong woodland that preserves local fauna and species of plants and native trees.

For his effort in biodiversity conservation and forestation in Bacong, Negros Oriental, Vendiola was awarded with the Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual during the 5th Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Triennial Awards last March 22 at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

For Vendiola, he was not competing with the other four finalists—two priests, a peace promoter in Mindanao, and a former Boy Scout master.

Ang RAFI nangita og tukog sa lukay nga hugpungon aron mahimong silhig. Gihimo mi sa RAFI og silhig. Sa among pagkasilhig, kami ang mogamit sa among nahibaw-an aron makatabang sa atong komunidad (RAFI is looking for ribs out of coconut leaves so that when grouped together, they form a broom. We the finalists are formed by RAFI into a ‘broom’ so that together, we can use our knowledge and help our community),” he said.

Vendiola shared over Pagtuki last March 24 that when declared awardee of the RAFI Triennial Awards for the individual category, he felt like crying because it was his first time to get an award. Pagtuki is the official radio program of RAFI every Saturday over dyLA from 10-11 a.m.

As the awardee, he received a trophy and a cash prize of Php 440,000, which he said he will use to build his dream endemic trees nursery.

On the other hand, the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) bagged the recognition as the Eduardo Aboitiz Awardee for Outstanding Institution for their efforts to uplift the lives of many women.

NWTF, an organization that provides capital to poor women to start in small scale business, has been providing livelihood opportunities through its program called “Project Dungganon” (dungganon is Hilagaynon or honorable).

Its executive director, Dr. Cecilia del Castillo, was sent to India to learn the Grameen Credit system, on which the program is based.

“We did not publicize our work. We just did our jobs. The people we helped are those who have little opportunities in life. They are the ones who really need our help,” said Manuel Margate, NWTF client service department manager, said in Bisaya.

He said NWTF will use the Php 440,000 cash prize received during the RAFI Triennial Awards to expand and improve Project Dungganon so that the organization can uplift the lives of more poor people.

The RAFI Triennial Awards was launched in Dec. 6, 1996 during the 39th anniversary of the foundation to commemorate the philanthropic, humanitarian, and holistic ideals of RAFI founders Don Ramon Aboitiz and his son Don Eduardo Aboitiz. The awards program is now on its 15th year this year, which is also the 45th year of RAFI.

It is one of the awards capabilities of RAFI, recognizing individuals and institutions that go the extra mile in bringing about positive change and in uplifting the quality of life of communities.

For more information about the RAFI Triennial Awards, please contact (032) 418-7234 loc. 105 and look for Cathy Margate, or visit www.rafi.org.ph or www.facebook.com/rafi.org.ph.