27 November 2017, Ayala Greenfields Estate, Calamba, Laguna. On the 27th of November 2017, 80 of FEED’s staunchest friends and family from around the world gathered with its first and longest-standing Living Legacy partner the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) at Ayala Greenfields Estate in Calamba, Laguna, to celebrate FEED’s origins dating back 20 years.
FEED Celebrates its Roots (Photo Highlights)
FEED Celebrates its Roots (YouTube VIDEO Musical Highlight)
Over 20 Years of FEED and Counting: https://youtu.be/ynoH4WBB0oQ (The Prayer)
FEED’s origins have never been documented in any historical type of account or documentary, because we had and always have been so focused on raising funds for scholarships and tree planting. So on this day, we pay tribute to those who made FEED’s evolution and existence possible, as well as to her forefathers.
FEED’s origins date back to the early 1990s in Manila, when its original co-founders Ofelia Mananquil Bakker and Jacob van Vliet Bakker – a happily married couple celebrating nearly a decade together back then – decided to pursue their own educational advocacy by establishing their own Bakker Foundation to send poor children to school.
The Foundation was then guided by its own organic growth, responding to friends and family in the Philippines and overseas, who knew about some of the scholars that had achieved greater successes after having completed their scholarships and starting their own careers. Back then, there was no internet and documentation was only done internally to comply with the SEC reporting requirements, so we do not have the full account of those prior to the mid 1990s, but are in the process of collating the full record (See the list of FEED scholars today here: https://feed.org.ph/scholarships/feed-scholars/).
Shift to Overseas Friends & Filipinos Working for Unity & Dignity (OFFWUD, Inc.)
In 1994, when the Bakker founders decided to move to Europe to follow their three children then pursuing their graduate education in the Netherlands, the Bakker Foundation renamed itself into “Overseas Friends & Filipinos Working for Unity & Dignity (OFFWUD, Inc.), as the founders decided to also focus on the preservation of national identity of Overseas Filipinos, through scholarship fund raising as well as hosting of cultural shows to raise awareness around Philippine art and music overseas, in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine community at large – particularly during Philippine national holidays such as Independence Day celebrations.
Overseas Filipino Workers Worldwide Consolidate their Advocacies
It was also during this period up to the early 2000’s that the proliferation of internet-based groups, such as OFW-Groups@Yahoo-groups.com or OFW-Bank@yahoo-groups.com, gained increasing memberships, momentum and support from worldwide OFWs that were connecting to each other’s advocacies, two of which FEED co-founder Ofelia Mananquil Bakker helped spearhead: the Dual Citizenship Bill and the Overseas Absentee Voting Bill.
A worldwide campaign and glamor to allow overseas Filipinos to vote in the Philippine national elections in May 2004, initially, was actively taking place among virtually connected OFW networks worldwide. In particular, campaigners sought for the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Bill pending for decades in stalemate in Congress.
In early 2000, the International Coalition for Overseas Filipinos Voting Rights (ICOFVR) addressed the Philippine Congress with a petition signed by hundreds of thousands of Philippine OFWs and OFW organisations, with some of the following bold statements:
- More than 7 million Filipinos overseas have, for the last 15 years, been denied their fundamental political right to vote in absentia in any of our political exercises.
- This denial we place squarely upon the shoulders of our national political leaders who, despite the explicit mandate of the 1987 Constitution for Congress to provide for a system of absentee voting, have since proceeded with an attitude made remarkable only by their inexcusable inaction, callous neglect or outright indifference.
- The right to vote in absentia, practiced by more than 40 countries, is not unique to the Philippines. But ours is a necessity made unique by the economic circumstances that compel a sizeable number of our citizenry to seek better opportunities abroad, yet remain politically marginalized, mute and powerless, even as they are hailed at every politically expedient turn as economic saviors for remitting billions of dollars a year.
- We are a citizenry no less informed of the political and economic realities obtaining in our homeland than those who remain. The realities that affect our country and our families affect us no less, demand that we neither be ignorant nor indifferent.
- We are a citizenry determined to elect only the best possible leaders and create an electorate free from the corrupting influence of guns, goons, gold and glamour. The distance that removes us physically from the political arena is the shield
Traveling between the Netherlands, Singapore and the Philippines, it was then that the OFW community always referred to the motherly and outspoken Mrs Bakker as “Tita O”, because she was on the receiving end of OFWs facing dire living or working conditions, including various forms of domestic and other abuses.
OFW History Made: [OFW-Core_Group] Remembering the Fight for OAV
One of the staunchest OFWNet networking group independents, Moonglowplanet*, cites history in the making thanks to the active leadership of many OFWs worldwide:
“…In Canada, one recognised fighter is Ms. Terry Olayta of the United Filipino Mothers Association (UFMA) of Toronto. As private individual fighters, both Winda Lagumbay Pettila and Robert ‘Bob’ Gabuna are notable. In Japan, the names Yuko Takei and Antonina ‘Ka Tonyang’ Binsol surface and despite the cold treatment of Filipinos there on the subject, they managed to gather a few thousands signatures for the worldwide campaign. In Singapore, the most vocal advocator is Ofelia Mananquil Bakker, known as ‘Tita O’ to the subscribers of the OFW Community of Lists of which OFW-Vote is subbed. Daphne Ceniza-Kouk of eLagda Hong Kong is another person identified with the AVB campaign. With ease, she can travel back to Manila whenever her presence is needed, just as in one of the advocacy group’s strategies of getting the support of Philippine press and media people.
Perhaps the most extensive and well-organised of all overseas groups in the fight for the right to vote, active members-wise, that is, is the ICOFVR-Saudi Arabia chapter.”
Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Act Passes in the Philippines, 2002
SENATE PASSES BILL ON ABSENTEE VOTING. The Senate last night passed the Absentee Voting Law – Republic Act No. 9189 – on second reading, paving the way for the more than seven million Filipinos living and working overseas to vote for the first time in the 2004 presidential election. With a vote of 14-1, the Senate approved the priority measure that had been certified as urgent by Malacañang. It will be formally approved on third reading on Oct. 21. Under Senate Bill 2104, all Filipinos abroad who are at least 18 years old on the day of the election would be allowed to vote for the candidates for President, Vice President, senators and party-list representatives. They will also be allowed to cast their votes in referendums and plebiscites on national issues. The new law will benefit the estimated three million overseas Filipino workers, more than two million permanent residents, and 1.6 million undocumented Filipinos in foreign countries. Source: Philippines Daily Inquirer, 10 October 2002
Along with the OAV, overseas Filipinos also sought for the passage of the Dual Citizenship law.
Dual Citizenship Law Passed, 2003
Republic Act No. 9225, approved 29 August 2003, provided that natural-born citizens of the Philippines who had lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalisation as citizens of a foreign country would be deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic, that their children whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of age, shall be deemed citizens of the Philippines, and that natural born citizens of the Philippines who become citizens of a foreign country subsequent to its enactment would retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath.
“Since the 1970s, the Philippines — a country of about 7,000 islands peopled by diverse ethno-linguistic groups — has supplied all kinds of skilled and low-skilled workers to the world’s more developed regions. As of December 2004, an estimated 8.1 million Filipinos — nearly 10 percent of the country’s 85 million people — were working and/or residing in close to 200 countries and territories…
The development of a culture of migration in the Philippines has been greatly aided by migration’s institutionalization. The government facilitates migration, regulates the operations of the recruitment agencies, and looks out for the rights of its migrant workers. More importantly, the remittances workers send home have become a pillar of the country’s economy.”
OFFWUD’s Transition to Friends of Overseas Filipinos, Inc. (FOFI)
As of April 27, 2017, the number of OFWs who worked abroad at anytime during the period April to September 2016 was estimated at 2.2 million. Remittances were and are one of the Philippines’ largest sources of foreign exchange income, helping insulate the domestic economy from external shocks by ensuring the continued supply of dollars into the economy. OFW cash transfers have always been and remain a major driver for domestic consumption, contributing to robust economic growth – which was fertile grounds for the long-overdue passing of the OAV and Dual Citizenship bills.
In 2003, OFFWUD’s Chairman and President moved to Singapore for work reasons, and having observed the consolidated and unified strength and impact of OFW networks worldwide, decided to streamline again the Foundation’s focus and name into a more digestible one from OFFWUD to Friends of Overseas Filipinos, Inc. (FOFI).
As FOFI, our work continued on scholarship provision for marginalised students seeking support for graduate studies in the field of Biological Sciences, initially at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and later on into other environmental and business sciences for deserving Philippine students. With its leadership based in Singapore, the Foundation’s thrust also centred around issues of OFW domestic violence. In partnership with the local Philippine Embassy, community-based organisations and the various Christian Priests and Catholic Churches, FOFI was active in supporting the instalment of care centres and services to those abused; alternative livelihood skills development and training seminars, and other empowerment activities geared towards alleviating the typical plight of OFW domestic workers.
In September of 2012, in an interview with GMA News Online, Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairperson of the Migrante partylist group, also lamented the “steady rise in violations of migrant rights….the truth is, OFWs are plagued with an assortment of issues and problems throughout the entire migration cycle yet the government has barely done any decisive action to support and protect its migrant workers and their families.”
Many government and NGO efforts since then have strived to ameliorate the life threatening challenges face by OFWs and to find ways to reverse the migration and foreign opportunities towards re-integration of OFWs into Philippine nation building. Today, the labor department and President Rodrigo Duterte himself are banking on the generation of millions of jobs and on improved reintegration program for returning OFWs.
From FOFI to FEED, Inc.
Parallel to these developments, with the OFW phenomenon having triggered the establishment of severe government support agencies – today even the OFW Bank for competitive OFW remissions – FOFI was much included to conclude its latest organic shift towards Educational & Environmental advocacies, following a brainstorming with the FOFI management and advisory team, many of whom remain with the FEED Board today (see: https://feed.org.ph/about/management-advisors/).
In 2011, what began as the Bakker Foundation, then OFFWUD and FOFI, was renamed into FOSTERING EDUCATION & ENVIRONMENT for DEVELOPMENT, Inc. (FEED).
With its By-Laws, mandate and mission rewritten to address two of our fundamental challenges facing Philippine society, and the sustainable development and progress thereof.
Statement from FEED President Ofelia Mananquil Bakker
“To be fair, these advocacies have always been a backbone or undercurrent of all our Foundations’ transitions”, cited FEED President Ofelia Mananquil Bakker.
“Coming from a farming family, I grew up on rice sacks, with carabaos and mangoes, it is our first nature to plant, and I never stopped since childhood. Now, however, with the Army being very busy dealing with other matters, we need more support from the public to do large scale high impact plantings nation-wide. My dream is if only every one of us 100 million Filipinos would plant a tree every morning, we might in one lifetime restore our entire ecosystem and be like Bhutan – offsetting our neighbours carbon! How exciting is that?!
For us volunteers in the Board as well as the day-to-day management, yes it is true that this type of work is a calling, and you either love it and live it 24/7, or you won’t last. Passion and purpose often come hand in hand, for those of us who are fortunate enough to figure our life calling within one’s own lifetime.
Working with nature and aspiring youth leaders coming from the poorest parts of remote communities and even urban areas, its the same thing at the end of the day – these are our countries GREATEST resources, assets and the very fundamental ingredients of which will deliver us a more prosperous future if they are nurtured in the right way.
If we can develop sustainability focused millennials, educated with the best moral compasses, technical, knowledge and inspirational skillets – then maybe the Philippines still stands a lion’s chance to reignite a renaissance in water and food security, as well as all other critical facets of our very talented people, including culture, arts and music. And we have been ruminating that as this rebirth happens, we too at FEED should be ready to again organically reshape our support towards the equally important nation building and heritage preserving pillars of a just and thriving populace – culture and the arts, the very inherent assets we Filipinos are born with.
For in the end, it is in evolving of our species and highlighting our strengths that we will overcome any and all weaknesses or obstacles that stand in our way. Ironically, being one of the top 10 countries to be worst hit by natural calamities is exactly what fortified our resilience and will solidify our national resolve towards restoration of an improved Philippines.”
Today, since 2011, with a consolidated 51,725 trees later and 4,907 volunteers, FEED continues to grow organically in respond to the market’s thirst to return to nature, with its two pillar tree planting programs namely Students and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
FEED Scholar Kristine Catsao, BS Biology now Leads the Microbiology Department of Euro-Med
With FEED Board of Directors member, Dr. Asuncion K. Raymundo is Kristine Catsao, a former FEED (then known as FOFI) scholar. Tin, as she is fondly called, was awarded the FEED/FOFI thesis grant which allowed her to pursue a research on biofilm of bacteria.
Tin obtained her B.S. Biology (cum laude), major in microbiology in 2011 after which she joined Euro-med Laboratories, Inc as Microbiologist. Currently she is an Assistant Manager for Quality Assurance and heads the Microbiology Department of Euro-Med.
Reach out to FEED in many ways:
- Ways to Support FEED: https://feed.org.ph/join-us/support-feed/
- Donate Direct via PayPal: https://feed.org.ph/join-us/donate-via-paypal/
- Other Forms of Donation: https://feed.org.ph/join-us/donation-details/
- Handy Links: https://feed.org.ph/join-us/multimedia-links/
FOR ALL OTHER ENQUIRIES
Contact Anne-Marie Mananquil Bakker (“Anne”), Director of Partnerships, Email email@example.com or text/call +63 917 552 4722.
- FEED “Living Legacy: Plant a Tree, FEED Our Future” Program Brochure
- FEED Patron’s Booklet
- Certificate of Incorporation, Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC # CN201119068), The Philippines
Follow FEED on Social Media
- Click here to Like our Facebook page.
- Click here to Follow @FEEDInc on Twitter.
- Follow us on Instagram: @FEED_Inc.
- Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc. (FEED): 23C, Pacific Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila, The Philippines 1200
- T +63 (0)2 817 2678 (if we are out planting, call mobiles below, thank you).
- M +63 (0)917 552 4722
Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc. (FEED) is a non-stock, non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) registered with the Philippine Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC Reg. #: CN201119068).
As such, donations can be claimed as tax deductions for tax purposes in most countries, for both individuals as well as businesses and other organisations. FEED provides all donors with official receipts of contributions too; if you have specific tax documents to file in your country of transaction origin, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the request.
The proceeds of FEED donations received are allocated directly to its LIVING LEGACY programs for the benefit of scholars, tree-planting, livelihood development, nursery establishment/upgrading and Student & Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) programs.
Thank you for your continued support! Big tree hugs from FEED!
© FEED, Inc.