Like most countries, the Philippines was heavily affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families were forced to deal with economic losses and disruption of their children’s education.
Filipinos were quick to organize and adapt to the pandemic, with local groups, many of them youth-led, stepping up to address the different challenges the pandemic caused for Filipino communities.
Last August 6, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Philippines and led the handover of U.S. government-donated medical supplies, laboratory equipment, testing and hygiene kits for local hospitals and medical facilities.
During his visit, Secretary Blinken also met with representatives from eight civil society organizations (CSO) to learn how these groups are making a difference for Filipinos who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Find out more about these CSOs here:
#1 AGREA Foundation
AGREA Foundation Associate Director Christine Jodloman shares information about her organization’s programs with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The AGREA Foundation is the non-profit arm of the AGREA Agricultural System, which assists farmers and fishermen through education, community development, and leadership programs.
Filipino farmers faced great difficulty transporting their products due to the logistical issues caused by the pandemic. The AGREA Foundation’s Move Food Initiative enabled 28,000 farmers in the Philippines find sustainable markets for their produce.
Kapit-Pinas Co-convenor Patrick Manuel highlights the total assistance provided by the Pantawid COVID Project. Kapit-Pinas is a youth-led community convened by youth-led non-government organization Millennials PH. They worked closely with Filipino alumni of the U.S. Department of State program Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative to implement the project.
The Pantawid COVID Project is a crowdfunding initiative led by Filipino youth. The project raised more than $120,000 in donations to help 12,000 lower-income families and 1,500 medical frontliners during the pandemic.
#3 Millennials PH
Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens to Millennials PH National President Meryl Hilda Jalani as she describes her organization and its achievements. Millennials PH has over 50,000 members in 145 cities and municipalities across the Philippines.
Millennials PH is a youth-led non-government organization (NGO) in the Philippines that specializes in organizing large movements for various causes. In 2020, they built Kapit-Mindanao, which mobilized more than 300 youth organizations to aid 20 communities in Mindanao that were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
#4 Break the Fake Movement
Gabriel Billones Jr. is the co-founder and Chief Organizer of the Break the Fake Movement. Break the Fake uses technology to engage the youth in the fight against disinformation.
Another damaging effect of the pandemic is the growing spread of disinformation online. The Break the Fake Movement combats disinformation and increases the number of responsible digital citizens. The NGO has partnered with the U.S. Embassy in the implementation of the “Media Civics Lab” project, which offers media and information training for elected youth officials.
#5 Love Education Philippines
Love Education Philippines co-founder and Executive Director Inah Salazar met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to the Philippines. Love Education Philippines is an organization dedicated to helping Filipino children learn how to read or improve their reading and comprehension skills in both Filipino and English.
Volunteers from Love Education Philippines were able to reach nearly 5,400 children during the pandemic through their “Reading Buddies Library” initiative, a volunteer-driven program that promotes reading and love of reading to young learners.
AdaptPH LGU kit lead Eunice Dela Cruz Tan described to Secretary of State Antony Blinken how their downloadable information kits help different sectors of Philippine society adopt and normalize habits which help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
AdaptPH is helping Filipino communities to adjust to life during the pandemic through the distribution of toolkits that are designed for the new normal. Their current toolkit series, which is supported by the U.S. government, is specifically aimed at helping five stakeholders in Philippine society (local government units, micro, small, and medium enterprises, public markets, schools, and public utility vehicles) to gradually adopt measures that reduce the transmission of the virus.
#7 SPARK! Philippines
SPARK! Philippines Executive Director Maica Teves with U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson. SPARK! Philippines focuses on women empowerment and greater interconnectivity and collaboration with other women’s groups and organizations in the Philippines.
SPARK! Philippines gave much-needed assistance to women in vulnerable communities such as women in shelters and single mothers during the pandemic by distributing hygiene kits and sanitary products.
#8 Yellow Boat of Hope (YBH) Foundation
Dr. Anton Mari Lim, President of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, presenting to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The Yellow Boat of Hope (YBH) Foundation has launched numerous educational initiatives during the pandemic. YBH’s “Hope in a Box” project provided educational materials to more than 2,000 Filipino children in the provinces. Educators also received support from YBH, from helping teachers adapt to distance learning and preparing for the return to face-to-face classes.
The United States has been a steadfast and reliable partner in the Philippines’ fight against COVID-19. As of August, the American people have donated more than 33 million safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and provided more than $50 million in assistance to support the country’s response against the pandemic.
Read more about U.S. COVID-19 assistance to the Philippines here: https://ph.usembassy.gov/fact-sheet-u-s-covid-19-assistance-to-the-philippines/