For 35 years, the Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation, Inc. (CLAFI) continues to serve the people, especially the Sarangans with passion and compassion and an aim to uplift the lives of those who are less privileged.
The mountains of the municipality of Maasim and its people are one of the gems of Sarangani, a place that houses the CLAFI, thereby it is with such respect and responsibility for the organization to bring back all the goodness the province has to offer. One of its beneficiary communities is the IP community of Datal Basak, Kablacan situated atop the mountainous area of Maasim.
Focusing its efforts on education and the environment, CLAFI has been implementing volunteer projects not only to satisfy the needs of its beneficiaries but also to inspire them to spread the seeds of volunteerism anchored on their founder’s values.
Two major programs of the organization center on education and youth leadership, and environmental protection and conservation.
Under the first program, CLAFI’s banner project is the Summer Big Brother or SBB which started in 2014. This aims to help improve the reading capacity of non-readers and frustration readers. It is a reading program for IP communities facilitated by the volunteer group created by CLAFI. This group of volunteers crafted a reading module as a reference for easy adoption.
The teachers of Datal Basak IP Integrated School testified how CLAFI, through its SBB, helped in improving education in one of the farthest schools in Sarangani. Pupils, particularly the non-readers and frustration readers developed their reading skills through CLAFI’s reading program. Based on CLAFI’s records, from 2014 to 2021, there is a 90% improved reading capacity in all its beneficiaries in different parts of Sarangani and in some parts of Iligan, Zamboanga, and Davao City. At least 9,857 non-readers and frustration readers benefited from the reading program. Also, through the SBB, 3,418 youth volunteers and 1,484 teacher volunteers were mobilized. In addition, the organization's Parent Mentoring Program changed how parents, particularly in IP communities, see the value of education for their children. This led to more children attending schools and more parents voluntarily participating in school activities.
Meanwhile, when it comes to CLAFI’s volunteer programs on environment, a total of 370 hectares of forested area in Datal Basak and a portion of Datal Fofo were planted with coffee and abaca while 342 hectares of open area in Datal Basak, Lambukal, Langran, and Tetif were planted with coconut, falcata, and calliandra. The tree-growing activities of CLAFI not only protect and save the mountains of Maasim but also provide a livelihood to those living in these areas. One of the beneficiaries said, through abaca production, their family was able to build a much better house. Another beneficiary noted that transportation was made better as he was able to buy a motorcycle from the livelihood provided by CLAFI’s nursery. The organization’s volunteer work in the aspect of the environment significantly contributed to the protection of watersheds in the mountains of Maasim. In addition, it has improved the skills and knowledge of farmers on farming and production techniques through training conducted by CLAFI’s partner agencies.
CLAFI provides creative solutions to emerging community needs based on the community’s challenges, opportunities, and new perspectives to ensure valuable interventions. Doing face-to-face engagement, all of the projects were spearheaded by CLAFI and duly supported by their volunteers and partner agencies and institution.
Consistent with its vision as a community builder that empowers people towards progress and equity in Mindanao, the Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation, Inc. has made itself relevant in many sub-projects that benefited the public, particularly those in IP schools and IP communities.
Its Flalok Project is one way of reviving the B’laan cultural identity and pride through storytelling. Its goal is to reinforce literacy and develop a community of readers by adopting the official mother tongue, an effort lauded by the Department of Education. It also implements Project Consuelo which involves consolidating and updating educational contextualized materials on child rights. The materials incorporate the mother tongue to foster opportunities for child protection. Through the help of CLAFI, learning materials were contextualized in B’laan, Maguindanaoan, Chavacano, Cebuano, and T’boli and were distributed to some schools in Sarangani, General Santos City, Zamboanga, Davao, and Iligan.
Meanwhile, to fight trafficking in person in Sarangani, the organization implements Strong CTIP. Through the project, young children are taught about human trafficking principles to protect themselves.
The CLAFI has also helped its adopted schools make classrooms conducive to learning and contributed to the continued learning of 59,412 learners despite the pandemic with the use of tablets, solar lanterns, and solar radios. Further, it helped develop Blaan storybooks, the first Blaan dictionary, Blaan alphabet and number charts, and many others.
CLAFI, in the hope to create change in the lives of the underprivileged, is doing its best to make its volunteer programs successful. The success of these programs cannot be only attributed to the resources they have but also to the volunteers who help the organization along the way. Through CLAFI’s influence on the community, more and more individuals partner with the organization in spreading the seeds of volunteerism. The organization is lucky that it has encouraged and inspired individuals, groups, and organizations to be part of its volunteer programs. One of the ways of CLAFI to promote volunteerism is through immersion so that interested individuals may see and experience first-hand how the organization’s volunteer activities are retrofitted to change lives.
Despite its impact on beneficiary communities and individuals, CLAFI’s volunteer programs will continue to touch the hearts of more volunteers and improve the lives of the less fortunate. Its advocacies on education and the environment are impactful thus promotion of volunteerism is as simple as making individuals understand that service to humanity, without asking anything in return, is one of the noblest acts that cannot be bought. (PIA XII)