Vice President of the Philippines Leni Robredo visited Vancouver this week to grace the 28th Anniversary of the Philippine Bicolano Association in BC (PBABC) held at the Hilton Hotel in Burnaby. Around 250 guests came to see and hear Robredo speak to the crowd of mostly eager kababayans from Bicol. Robredo was received by the Consulate General of the Philippines in Vancouver headed by Consul General Maria Andrelita Austria.
Speaking in English, Tagalog and in Bicol, Robredo spoke about her project Angat Buhay (Uplifting Life). The flagship anti-poverty program has benefitted 83,707 families (as of 2017) across the country in its first year of implementation.
“We were able to implement Angat Buhay in its first year without a budget. We just relied on the support from private companies,” Robredo shares.
One of the programs aims is to introduce livelihood programs to the families, as well as to farmers who she says, need the support by local businesses to use their produce instead of importing. The only problem is, small farmers are not capable of producing the amount of produce the businesses need to run. Robredo says she and her team are continuing to negotiate with these businesses to give the farmers a chance to enhance their livelihood and be proud of their produce.
Because the Office of the VP does not fully subsidize Angat Buhay, Robredo says they had to find other means to provide for the project by approaching private companies. It has linked mediator private companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to local government units (LGUs) to provide assistance to families in need. Since its launch on October 10, 2016, Angat Buhay helped companies, NGOS, and LGUs provide P145 million worth of services to poor communities in the Philippines including feeding and nutrition programs that benefitted 2,345 stunted and wasted children, and lactating mothers; food packs and multivitamins for 5,392 families; livelihood opportunities for 7,691 farmers, fisherfolk, and indigent families; classroom construction, teacher training, scholarships, school supplies, and other equipment that benefitted 21,791 students, out-of-school youth, and teachers; solar kits and generators, water filters, water pumps, hygiene kits, sinks, and toilet bowls for 1,868 individuals and 725 families; and families affected by various natural calamities.
Angat Buhay was also able to help 3,646 indigent patients get assistive devices and free health services, while 935 women were able to attend product development and marketing workshops, gender and development planning, Violence Against Women orientations, and courses on hairdressing and cosmetology.
Robredo said that the Senate had increased the OVP’s proposed budget for 2018 by P20 million to help fund the Angat Buhay program, a big help for more families, but she continues to appeal to kababayans all over the world, to help her next project, Angat Kabuhayan.
“We hope that you can support us in this work that we do, so that marami pa tayong matulungang kababayan,” she adds. “We know that you can help them because you have the means to do so,” Robredo adds.
Robredo also told the guests that she has a brother in Calgary, so her visit to Canada is not new, but this is the first time that she stayed in Vancouver. She mentioned that she visited Stanley Park and Granville Island, and was able to interview some OFWs for her program on Angat Buhay before the gathering in the evening.
The PBABC celebrated their anniversary in time for Robredo’s visit, and president Danilo Reyes and its members, were very honoured to have her grace the event. She was presented a plaque by the organization for their visit, and Jun Cunanan of the Cunanan family presented a painting he made of Robredo with Vancouver in the background.
Several members of the Catanduanes International Association as well as the PBABC choir presented some songs, while Rosario Strings led by Kimwell Del Rosario, serenaded the guests and Robredo with Filipino kundiman songs as well as contemporary music.
More pictures on Page 21 . Photo credit: Raymund Correa/ Reyfort Publishing.