Now on its 41st year, Ayala Foundation renews its commitment to bridge business and society in order to eradicate poverty in all its forms. It is reaching out to thousands of Filipinos through programs in education, youth development, information technology, environmental concerns, and the arts and culture.
Established by businessman Col. Joseph McMicking and his wife, Mercedes Zobel, as the Filipinas Foundation, it was renamed Ayala Foundation in 1990 to emphasize its role as the social development partner of one of the country’s leading conglomerates.
At the heart of Ayala Foundation’s social development programs is the belief that Filipinos can help themselves rise from poverty given the opportunity and right mechanisms in place. This has led the foundation to develop and support projects that have a far-reaching impact on the lives of individuals and communities.
One such project is the government’s poverty alleviation program, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan, or KALAHI. With Ayala Foundation coordinating the activities of various Ayala companies, some 200 families in Mandaluyong received a development package that included health services from Globe Telecom and Ayala Land, potable water from Manila Water, livelihood fund from the Bank of the Philippine Islands, and an Internet laboratory.
There is also the Mindanao Silk Weaving Project, a home-based program that trains women residents in Misamis Oriental in handloom weaving and gives them a revolving loan fund for business operations.
Even information technology programs can be designed to equip Filipinos with tools to improve their lives. For instance, Project Youth Tech and iLinK train high school students and teachers and provide a computer laboratory with free one-year Internet access from Globe Telecom. The Ayala Intel Computer Clubhouse allows young students to use its after-school facilities to explore their creativity.
Yet another way of bringing information technology to the grassroots level is the Barangay.Net Cebu Alliance, Inc., which computerizes basic local government functions.
In addition, Garchitorena explans that it is equally important to address what is called “poverty of spirit”. The Ayala Museum and the Filipinas Heritage Library to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the country’s rich cultural heritage through exhibits, lectures, books, and online resources.
The foundation also created programs that aim to develop future leaders. The annual Ayala Young Leaders Congress now has 350 alumni from all over the country who are committed to creating positive changes in their own communities. Focusing on a much younger generation, the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education or Centex provides bright children from poor families an exceptional learning environment that empowers them with the value of service to others.
Forging new partnerships
Garchitorena says that a great part of the Ayala Foundation’s work has to do with networking. Partners are sought to extend the reach of its programs and help create innovative solutions to address poverty. On many occasions, it collaborates with other businesses and institutions in programs such as Children’s Hour, Tabang Mindanaw, La Mesa Reforestation Project, World Wildlife Fund, and Habitat for Humanity.
In celebration of its 41st anniversary yesterday, Ayala Foundation honored partners, donors, and sponsors and highlighted collaborative efforts with key institutions. For instance, it announced plans to enter agreements with publications to inform migrant Filipinos about social development programs in the Philippines and advise them on how to support these programs through Ayala Foundation USA.
The Mindanao Silk Weaving Project has coordinated with the Philippine Textile Research Institute and the Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines to upgrade the skills of its beneficiaries and help them market their products.
At the same time, Ayala Museum accepted donations and long-term loans of prized collections from its partners. These are the Fernando Zobel collection of modern art from the Ateneo Art Gallery, a portrait of Romana Suarez by Fernando Amorsolo and 60 oriental trade ceramics from the Zuellig Collection, and Rina Ortiz’s collection of 17th to 19th century Piña clothing.
Says Garchitorena: “Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all our funders, trustees, officers and staff, and to all our partners. We find strength in their generosity which has sustained us through the 41 years of service that Ayala Foundation has offered to the country.”