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How to make your 2013 more meaningful

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

How to make your 2013 more meaningful

By: Harvey S. Keh

Published at The Manila Bulletin on January 6, 2013 (Sunday)

 

The new year always brings about new resolutions, opportunities and challenges to all of us. A recent survey done by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) shows that  almost 90% of Filipinos are entering this new year with renewed hope and excitement. Yet despite this, there still much work to be done to help our country continue to move forward towards lasting progress and development. This will only happen if each of us will take the time to do our own small share towards making a difference in our society.

 

Here are some concrete initiatives that we can do to help make our 2013 more meaningful not only for ourselves but also for our country:

 

1.) Share your old but usable books to our public schools

 

While we have many books that just gather dust in our book shelves or cabinets, less than 20% of our public elementary schools do not have functional libraries due to lack of resources. This is equivalent to more than 10 Million young Filipino students who are not able to learn how to read properly because they do not have books to read in the first place. The Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation accepts storybooks, up to date encyclopedias, dictionaries, reference books and other learning materials that can still be placed in our public elementary school libraries. If you would like to donate, you can call (02) 433-1440 or (02) 990-3282, you can also bring your donations to 56-D Esteban Abada St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

 

2.) Volunteer for the coming 2013 National and Local Elections

 

We always love to complain about how corrupt our government officials are and this is a fact in our country where we lose billions of pesos due to graft and corruption. These billions of pesos can easily provide scholarships to poor but deserving students, adequate housing to poor families and health insurance for every Filipino. More often than not, the reason why we have corrupt political leaders is because many of us choose to just stay away from getting involved and ensuring that these people never get elected into public office again.

 

If you believe that our country deserves clean, honest and truthful elections then you may want to share your time and talent to volunteer for election watchdogs such as the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) or the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). You can contact NAMFREL by calling their office at (02) 470-4151 while you can just visit your nearest parish church to volunteer for PPCRV.

 

Let us remember that we do not have a right to complain if we don’t do our part as citizens of this country to ensure that we elect the right leaders.

 

3.) Blog and write about inspiring stories in your community

 

When one looks at the front page of our newspapers, majority of the news are usually bad news. Are we as a nation really that bad? I don’t think so. There are so many inspiring stories in our communities but sadly, not many people know about these stories until media decides to publish or feature it. One prime example is the Kariton Classroom of Efren Penaflorida who only got attention when he was chosen as the CNN Hero of the Year in 2009. Fortunately for Penaflorida, his friends decided to upload a video of his initiative on YouTube which got the attention of people from CNN. This recognition enabled Penaflorida’s group to receive more resources and donations that is now allowing them to help more children in Cavite.

 

Our country is a nation of heroes that is why I am sure that there are a lot more exciting and worthwhile initiatives that are happening in our own communities thus, it would be good if we can blog or write about these initiatives so that we can continue to inspire more Filipinos to do their own small share in making a difference by sharing their time and talents.

 

Just like the Kariton Classroom, the community projects that we start need not immediately make a great impact but if we are able to create several hundreds or even thousands of these initiatives all over the country then it will only be a matter of time before we are able to make a big dent in our nation’s fight against illiteracy and poverty.

 

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com

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Job Opening at AHON Foundation – Program Officer for Library Development

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment
AHON (Acts of Hope for the Nation) Foundation,
the corporate social responsibility initiative of Filway Marketing, Inc., is a non-stock, non-profit organization with a mission of promoting quality basic education by developing public elementary school libraries all over the Philippines.
We are currently looking for a full-time Program Officer whose main functions will be to assist the Executive Director in implementing projects relating to our  library development projects & training of public school librarians
 
These activities will include identifying beneficiary public schools, monitoring library build & development activities, evaluating the use of our adopted libraries and coordinating with our partner organizations for teacher training programs to help the organization achieve its primary mission of bringing more quality books and Filipino children together, as we contribute to a better culture of reading and learning in our country.
Minimum Requirements for the position are as follows:
a.) Graduate of a reputable college or university;  fresh graduates may apply (majors in business, economics, social studies, marketing, communications, IT-related courses, development studies, psychology, library science, preferred)
b.) Must have excellent oral and written communication skills in English and Filipino; & good interpersonal skills
c.) Must be proficient in basic computer skills (documents, spreadsheets, presentations/publication tools) & some background experience in managing blogs, websites, etc.
d) Must be organized, efficient and systematic in maintaining project documentation materials/files and correspondence
e.) Must be flexible and willing to travel
f.) Must be able to work with minimal supervision while producing quality and timely results
g) Must be willing to learn, be creative & analytical, and open to new ideas
h) Must possess the belief, conviction or commitment in working towards positive changes in our Philippine public school educational system
Interested applicants may send their application letter and latest resume with picture to harveykeh@gmail.com on or before November 20,2012

For more information about AHON Foundation, please visit http://www.ahonfoundation.org/

Job Opening at AHON Foundation

July 15, 2012 Leave a comment
Job Opening – Program Officer for Marketing and Resource Mobilization

AHON (Acts of Hope for the Nation) Foundation, the corporate social responsibility initiative of Filway Marketing, Inc., is a non-stock, non-profit organization with a mission of promoting quality basic education by developing public elementary school libraries all over the Philippines. To date, the foundation has helped develop more than 50 libraries all over the country that are currently benefitting more than 100,000 students.

We are currently looking for a full-time Program Officer whose main functions will be to assist the Executive Director in implementing projects relating to our resource mobilization and marketing programs.



Job Description:


As the Marketing and Resource Mobilization officer, you will be in charge of:

  1. Creating awareness for the foundation (maintaining website, brainstorming creative ads, establishing connections and partnerships with other individuals/ groups)
  2. Ensuring positive public relations and high brand equity of AHON Foundation
  3. Organizing innovative fund-raising events, activities and projects throughout the year
  4. Establishing and maintaining good relationships with the donor database
  5. Developing grant proposals for the foundation
  6. Assist in the recruitment and management of volunteers/human resources


Minimum Requirements
:
 

  1. Graduate of a reputable college or university;  fresh graduates may apply (majors in business, marketing, communications, psychology, IT-related courses, development studies, preferred)
  2. Must have excellent oral and written communication skills in English and Filipino; & good interpersonal skills
  3. Must be proficient in basic computer skills (documents, spreadsheets, presentations/ publication tools) & some background experience in managing blogs, websites, etc.
  4. Must be organized, efficient and systematic in maintaining project documentation materials/files and correspondence
  5. Must be flexible and willing to travel
  6. Must be able to work with minimal supervision while producing quality and timely results
  7. Must be willing to learn, be creative & analytical, and open to new ideas
  8. Must possess the belief, conviction or commitment in working towards positive changes in our Philippine public school educational system
Interested applicants can send a formal application letter and their latest resume/CV with picture on or before July 31,2012 at  harveykeh@gmail.com . 

AHON Foundation helps develop 5 new libraries in Southern Leyte

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment

AHON brings books and libraries to Southern Leyte

The Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation, the corporate foundation of Filway Marketing, Inc. recently helped in the development of 5 new public elementary school libraries in the province of Southern Leyte. The beneficiary schools include, Mahayhay Elementary School, Sogod Central Elementary School, Lonoy Multigrade School, Awayon Elementary School and Ibarra Elementary School. This was done in partnership with the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership who was represented by Marisa Lerias. Each school received brand new reference books in English, Science, History, Geography and Mathematics. For more information about how you can help or volunteer for AHON Foundation, please contact Herbel Santiago at herbel_santiago@yahoo.com .

AHON Foundation's Herbel Santiago unloading the brand new books for set-up

Parents and teachers working together to set-up the library

Formal library opening with partners and stakeholders in the community

Children of Southern Leyte enjoying their brand new books and library

Quality books donated to public elementary school libraries by AHON Foundation

Photos by: Herbel Santiago

Whatever happened to Joker Arroyo?

August 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Whatever happened to Joker Arroyo?

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times 

http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/5502-whatever-happened-to-joker

Students from Sagad Elementary School (Pasig) enjoy their new library and new books

THE Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation, the corporate social responsibility program of Filway Marketing Inc., just inaugurated its 48th adopted public elementary school library at Sagad Elementary School in Pasig City. By the end of September, AHON would have helped in the development and improvement of more than 50 public elementary school libraries as it was set to open three more in Southern Leyte. This is one of the apostolate works of the president and chief executive officer of Filway Marketing, Hector O. Tagaysay, who was educated in the public school system before receiving a scholarship to study at the Ateneo de Manila University. Unlike other businessmen who love to broadcast their achievements, he has quietly provided books for over 100,000 schoolchildren all over the country. I hope that there will be more men like Tagaysay, sharing the blessings that he has received with those who need it the most.

Businessman for good governance


Another admirable businessman who has been at the forefront of Kaya Natin (KN)’s Karapatan at Kalusugan Kaya Natin Pangalagaan program is Fred Siy. He has been generously providing medicines and other medical supplies to indigent senior citizens living in the areas of our KN champions like Among Ed Panlilio of Pampanga, Rep. Bolet Banal of Quezon City, Mayor Jun Verzosa of Tagudin in Ilocos Sur, former Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, and Mayor Baby Congco of Cabiao in Nueva Ecija. Like Tagaysay, Siy is the type of businessman who would rather take on a low profile and keep quiet about the help and support that he has given. What makes the Karapatan at Kalusugan program unique is that, unlike other medical missions, it also requires beneficiaries to attend a lecture on good governance and responsible citizenship. With more socially-responsible businessmen like Tagaysay and Siy, coupled with more effective, ethical and empowering leaders like our KN champions, I am sure that it won’t be long before our country moves forward.

More on SM Blue


If we have socially responsible businessmen, then we also have business leaders who will do everything just to earn more revenue. This seems to be the case of SM Development Corp. (SMDC), which seems to believe that it is above the law. Last week, I wrote about the zoning exemption that the company was able to get from the city council, which permitted it to construct a 42-storey building named SM Blue Residences near the Marikina fault line. I forgot to mention in that piece that what was even more suspicious was how SMDC was able to get a building permit when the chairman of Barangay Loyola Heights did not even issue a barangay clearance to the corporation. Did some hanky-panky happen in city hall, like what happened with the city council? I am sure that this kind of thing is not only happening in Quezon City, but also in other parts of the country. Companies employing this practice try their best to maximize profits without regard for the community that will be affected by their massive construction efforts. It seems that the present occupant of Quezon City Hall is not inclined to do anything to redress this wrongdoing, thus it would be best if the Department of the Interior and Local Government, led by the good Sec. Jesse Robredo, conduct an immediate investigation of what really transpired these past two years. Ateneo and other stakeholders are also studying the possibility of filing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against the councilors that gave SMDC the exemption. If the corporation is really the good guy that it claims to be in all its ads, it should immediately stop construction and sit down with community leaders to find an amicable and mutually beneficial solution to this problem. Then again, that may be asking too much from a company that doesn’t seem to understand what the real meaning of corporate social responsibility is.

What happened to Joker?

Senator Joker Arroyo


Speaking of investigations and unearthing the truth, I am really wondering what happened to Sen. Joker Arroyo, who used to be at the forefront of fighting for truth, justice and righteous governance. Ever since I first saw him during the impeachment trial of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, I have always admired Arroyo and his principles. But in the last three years, I have seen that he has become a mere puppet of the previous administration, defending its leaders against allegations of graft and corruption. Just this week, he released a statement calling for the stoppage of the ongoing Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on anomalies involving police helicopter purchases made by the previous administration. What gives, Sen. Arroyo? Why are you now siding with those who want to suppress the truth? Do you still remember your campaign slogan, “Kung bad ka, lagot ka!”? He said that it would be best if the complainants would just go and file their charges in court so as not to waste the Senate’s time. While that may be a good suggestion, we all know that once a case is filed in court, it will take many years before it is resolved. People are longing for truth, accountability and justice, and as a result many continue to support the efforts of the blue ribbon committee, led by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd. If Arroyo wants to protect the former president and her husband, then perhaps it would be better for him to attend the hearings and debate with his fellow senators there, rather than calling for the scrapping of these important investigations which are now giving the public a bigger picture of all the shenanigans that happened in the previous administration.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com 
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Black Propaganda

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Black Propaganda

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

http://www.manilatimes.net/opinion/black-propaganda/

 

AS the new school year began last week, problems such as the lack of classrooms, teachers and textbooks continue to occur in our public schools. As much as the Department of Education (DepEd) led by Secretary Armin Luistro would want to solve these problems overnight, this simply cannot happen given the fact that our past leaders have neglected our education system for several decades now. The good thing about this new administration is that it is constantly seeking private organizations and companies to work with the DepEd in bringing better facilities and services to our students. The private sector knows fully well that if our education system continues its decline, businesses will be at the losing end given that there will be shortage of well-educated and competent manpower that can work for their companies. Our big companies should realize that by investing in education now, they are also investing in their own future given that improving our education system will allow our country to produce more skilled workers such as accountants, engineers and managers which companies constantly need.

Education solves poverty


Investing in education is also good for our government and the economy since if we are able to produce the best workers in our region, more foreign companies will want to establish their operations here thereby bringing additional dollars and jobs that will easily prop up the economy. More jobs would also mean better opportunities for every Filipino to be able to improve their quality of life. Take for example, an average call center worker can easily earn a monthly salary of P20,000.00 which would be more than enough to cover for the day to day expenses of a family of four. Right now, many call centers have started to complain that they are finding it hard to fill up the vacancies that they have given the lack of skilled and competent applicants that are currently in the job market. I have always said in my past talks that if our basic education system is good, our high school graduates need not anymore go to college just to be able to qualify to work at our call centers.

Filway and AHON bring books to schools

AHON Foundation adopted public elementary school library

One company that has invested heavily in helping improve the quality of our public education system is Filway Marketing, Inc. which in 2006 set up the Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation. AHON helps promote literacy and reading among public elementary schools through the development of adequate and functional libraries. If one will visit our public schools, one would lament the fact that majority of the books in their libraries (if they have one) are usually very old books that can no longer be used by the students. Therefore, it is not suprising that many of our students graduate from Grade 6 with reading comprehension skills of a Grade 3 student. AHON works with different stakeholders in the community such as the parents association, the teachers club and the barangay to help renovate and improve the library. Each stakeholder does their own share to make the library a more conducive place for reading and learning. AHON then donates P350,000 to P600,000 worth of brand new reference books, encyclopedias, dictionaries and story books to the library. Last week, AHON formally opened four new public school libraries in Nueva Ecija to bring to 45 the total number of adopted libraries that the foundation has helped through the years. Aside from this, AHON also works with the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University to provide training to the librarians who are assigned to manage the libraries. This training will ensure that the libraries are used properly by the students and even their co-teachers.

Supporting Purisima and Juico

PCSO Chairman Margarita Juico

On another topic, I am very disturbed by the black propaganda that the allies of the former administration are doing to discredit good people in the current administration particularly Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and PCSO Chairman Margie Juico. I personally know Puri-sima given that he was one of our first supporters when we launched the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership in 2008. Since then Purisima has been actively engaging us in efforts to curb graft and corruption in the revenue generating agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. The opposition is saying that Purisima should be investigated because he has been filing charges of tax evasion against people associated with the past administration particularly Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Mikey Arroyo. What is wrong with filing charges against those who committed violations of our law? If Arroyo did in fact not pay taxes then he should be penalized for that. It will be our judicial bodies who will decide if Arroyo is guilty or not and not Purisima. If Arroyo can show proof that he is indeed an honest tax payer then there is nothing that he should be afraid of.

I also don’t see anything wrong with the decision of PCSO to move their office from the old, run down Quezon Institute (QI) to the PICC. Clearly, structural engineers have already declared that the QI is no longer a safe place given that there is a strong possibility that it would collapse should a major earthquake occur. Given this scenario, why is former PCSO Chairman Manoling Morato, another known ally of the previous administration going to town telling everyone that Juico made a wrong decision to transfer? Would the public rather believe him or the structural engineers? Will he be willing to be held responsible for all the lives that would be lost should the worst case scenario happen? One reason that I see is that he is trying his best to take away the public’s attention from the spate of anomalies committed by the previous PCSO board which Morato was part of that the current PCSO board has uncovered.

Reports have shown that during his time at PCSO, Morato knew that there was rampant corruption that was happening from advertising and public relations placements which ran up to almost a billion pesos but he didn’t do anything about it. Is he perhaps also in cahoots with these perpetrators? The new PCSO board has now put an end to this malpractice and has even rescinded several anomalous contracts that the previous board has entered into. Apparently, Juico is dead serious in following our President’s call for righteous governance and this has stepped on several toes including that of Morato.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com

I know good governance isn’t sexy but…

March 17, 2011 1 comment

Leaders of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership

I know good governance isn’t sexy but…

By: Harvey S. Keh

Ever since I’ve graduated from college in 2000, I have been very much involved with two major advocacies that I feel very passionate about, the improvement of access and quality of education in our country and the promotion of good governance. I have always believed that both of these elements should be attained by our country in order for us to eventually move out of poverty and become a first world economy.

Healthway Medical donates to Pathways to Higher Education

Pathways to Higher Education

I started Pathways to Higher Education-Philippines in 2002 together with Fr. Ben Nebres, S.J. and Dr. Milwida Guevara, both of whom I look up to as mentors and as great Filipino servant leaders. Pathways helps academically-gifted but financially-disadvantaged public high school students gain access to college and eventually finish their college education. Since we started Pathways in 2002, more than a hundred students have already graduated from college many of which come from families who earn less than P 150.00 a day. Raising funds for the scholarships of our participants wasn’t very hard since many generous Filipinos were more than willing to “adopt” our scholars. Even large companies such as Universal Robina Corporation, Healthway Medical, Diamond Hotel, RCPI and Smart Communications have partnered with Pathways in helping bring opportunities to more deserving young Filipinos. Those who may want to consider helping our Pathways participants can call (02) 426-6001 local 4048.

Children reading at a newly opened AHON Foundation library

AHON Foundation

In 2006, Mr. Hector Tagaysay and I worked together to establish the Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation, a corporate foundation of Filway Marketing, Inc., that aims to help build well-equipped public elementary school libraries all over the country. Since then, we have helped refurbish more than 40 libraries in Marikina, Quezon City, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, La Union and Pangasinan. Like Pathways, AHON does not find it very hard to get book donations and grants from individuals and organizations who believe in providing quality basic education to every Filipino child. Just recently, AHON got a grant from Target Sourcing Services which will allow us to provide Filipiniana storybooks and other reference materials to our beneficiaries. Two weeks ago, another multi-national company got in touch with us and committed to helping provide books to another public elementary school in Pasig. Those who may want to help AHON bring books to more Filipino children can call (02) 434-1458.

Good governance’s struggle for support

Unlike Pathways and AHON, the biggest challenge for me in terms of raising funds and support has been in Kaya Natin. The Ateneo School of Government together with Among Ed Panlilio, former Gov. Grace Padaca and DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo launched the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership in 2008 at a dinner meeting at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan. Since then, we have evolved to become not just a movement that promotes good governance but also as a leadership sanctuary that supports effective, ethical and empowering government leaders in our country. We believe that the only way for good people to prevail against graft and corruption is if they synergize their efforts and work together. Yet, despite the great need for good governance in our country given that billions of pesos are lost every year to graft and corruption, it has been quite tough for us to raise resources for our programs and activities.

 

One major reason for this is that many Filipinos still shun away from getting involved in anything political especially major companies which have their own interests to protect. Another reason that I see is that unlike Pathways and AHON where you can concretely see where your money goes (in the form of a scholar or a library), good governance is vague and it doesn’t yield results immediately. Finally, I discerned that by espousing good governance and ethical leadership, you are forced to take a side thus by choosing to advocate for what is right, you automatically gain enemies which are those who live and perpetuate graft and corruption in our society. Whereas in other advocacies such as education, healthcare and shelter, you don’t have to step on anyone’s interests.

Looking at the bigger picture

Yet, if you look at the bigger picture in the Philippines, isn’t it supposed to be the role of our government to ensure that quality education is provided to all? Isn’t it the role of our government to be able to provide equitable opportunities to every Filipino to be able to own a house? My point here is that if good governance is practiced by our government leaders, the impact would be greater and much felt by more Filipinos in a faster way. Yes, a movement that promotes good governance isn’t sexy but in the end, it also needs to be supported lest we want our country to be continually run by corrupt leaders.

 

A story comes to mind as I write this piece. There was a man who saw another man drowning in the pool so he jumps into the pool and saves the drowning man. Right after he brings the man out of the pool, he sees that there are two other men who are now drowning in the pool as well. He then jumps into the pool and saves both of them. This process happens again and again and again until the man grows tired because the man fails to see the bigger picture and address the root cause of the problem which is the presence of an evil man who continuously throws people into the pool.

Making a commitment

One could reflect on this story as a story of our country today. While there are so many good people who are doing their own share to contribute to nation-building, many Filipinos continue to still live in poverty. The greater challenge now is how we can engage our government and its leaders so that they can become champions of good governance who can effectively respond to our growing social problems. By doing so, we make our leaders accountable for their actions or inactions and in the end, better delivery of basic services to every Filipino can happen.

 

In conclusion, donating or volunteering for a cause is a personal choice which I hope many Filipinos especially those who live comfortably will make. Whether it’s helping provide a scholarship, donating books or supporting champions of good governance, the important thing is you have gone out of your comfort zone, made a choice and more importantly, a commitment to get involved and contribute to making our society a better place for all of us. Genuine and lasting change will only happen if every Filipino will not just stop at complaining about our present problems but also start to become a proactive changemaker in his or her own small way.

 

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com