Who is Jay Jaboneta?

Jay Jaboneta is a Co-Founder of the Philippine Funds for Little Kids movement.

Jay was recently named by Yahoo Southeast Asia as one of the 7 Modern-Day Filipino Heroes for his involvement in the project Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids which is now renamed as the Philippine Funds for Little Kids. His work with the fund has been featured by the Associated Press, CNN, BusinessWeek, Forbes, The Huffington Post, ABS-CBN’s Bandila, ANC’s Headstart with Karen Davila, GMA-7, GMA News TV’s News To Go, and other international and local news organizations.

He was the first and former Head for New Media under the Presidential Communications Operations Office and started the team that manages the President’s official website and social networking presence.

He is now a Consultant on Social Media Strategy & Marketing for some companies and nonprofits in the country.

Jay loves to help people, companies, non-profits and brands breathe life into their brand story.

Jay is a hungry man. He eats at least a hundred books a year, loves chocolate and sometimes can’t live without coffee. He has worked for organizations as diverse as the Philippine Government, Procter & Gamble Philippines, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (including Metrobank Card Corporation).

Jay believes remarkable people and organizations deserve the attention of the world. 

You can reach him at http://twitter.com/jayjaboneta or http://www.jayjaboneta.com.

Where I've been in the Philippines

This is such a cool site. This is how well-traveled I am in the country, now I can see it visually!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

To explain my map a bit more, I was born in Cotabato City, so you can just imagine I have traveled most parts of Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao, South and North Cotabato and of course I’ve been to General Santos City and Iligan & Cagayan de Oro cities too.

For college, I studied in Ateneo De Davao so I’ve traveled that corner of the Philippines too, both Davao del Sur and Norte, then Bukidnon, Surigao and circling back to Cagayan de Oro in the north and General Santos City in the south. I have lived in Mindanao for the first 20 years of my life.

For my first job, I worked in Sales based in Laguna but my role was more on sales reporting and monitoring so I’ve traveled a lot and have covered 70-80% of Luzon during my 12 months with that company, not to mention attending the sales conventions in Visayas and Mindanao. After that, I was mostly based in Metro Manila.

During last year’s presidential campaign, I was a volunteer for Atty. Alex Lacson, so again, it allowed me to cover much ground in Luzon and Visayas.

I’m counting less than 10 provinces only that I haven’t been able to go to. Hoping to complete this in 2012!  I want that “A” mark!

Hope we can become ambassadors for our own country!

Let’s pray too that the infrastructure will come!

Falling off short the second time around

             University of the Visayas Baby Lancers face another disappointment from CESAFI rivals Sacred Heart School - Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles after finishing at the second spot for the NBTC Under-18 Basketball League in Lapu-lapu City.

           The Janjan Jaboneta - PioLonga tandem caused the team’s destruction after scoring huge from beyond the 3-point mark. Adding to their heartbreak was Zacky Huang and Joshua Sinclair’s tight defense, ceasing UV’s big men Joshua Flores and Dominic Morre to score under the paint.

           Meanwhile, heading Baby Lancers offensive side was Orlan Wamar, scoring 21 points, assisted by Kristofer Borbon and Dovejones Verano.

           The same story had happened during the last CESAFI season where UV fell short on the Finals’ game 3, with issues on Ateneo’s very tight defense resulting to foul troubles and kicking out Morre from the game after a clash against Sinclair.

           Many say that the Baby Lancers’ losing to the Magis Eagles this season was more of a predestined fight. But whatever it may be, only the players and the coaching staff know what was wrong why everything turned out like this.

My hero is a blogger; Who’s your hero?

(Article by Ernie Cecilia that appeared yesterday in the Q5 Working People Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer about the Yellow Boat Project. Thank you Sir Ernie!)

LAST TUESDAY WAS BONIFACIO Day. National Heroes Day is in August. But nothing prevents us from celebrating heroes anytime of the year. In fact, I suggest we should.

Korean War hero

My late father was a Korean war hero. He shed blood, sweat and tears in defending democracy in another country. Fifty years after the end of the Korean war, the South Korean President wrote my dad with profuse thanks for his participation in preserving democracy. He must have been a hero to the Koreans.

At the time of the Korean war, South Korea’s per capita income was $60, compared to the Philippines’ $700. Of course, we were No. 2 to Japan after World War II. In 2009, our per capita income increased to $1,747. Today, I guess our per capita income is roughly $2,000, while South Korea’s is $16,000.

Last November 21, Ana Marie Pamintuan wrote in another paper, “Today Hyundai is heavily into shipping, although it is best known in the Philippines for its motor vehicles. Korean cars and consumer electronics are competing with the best in the world. Samsung is taking on Apple’s ipad and iphone. Seoul Incheon International Airport has won several awards as the world’s best. We, on the other hand, have not graduated from making gaudy, polluting knockoffs of the Jeep. And our airport is… never mind. Our country is not lacking in brains and talent, but many of our best minds are working overseas for foreign companies, frustrated that most of those who prosper in this country are those with the right surnames or connections. When the accident of birth plays a critical role in financial or professional success, there is little incentive to strive for excellence and genuine self-improvement.”

Like many kids, I used to dream when I was young and silly that I could fly. My recollection of early childhood is of heroes with supernatural powers. Then, Michael Jackson helped changed the definition of heroism in his song, “In Our Small Way,” when he sang:

“Maybe you and I can’t do great things We may not change the world

in one day But we still can change some things today In our small way” Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Perhaps, our world does not have enough room for geniuses. That’s why there are few of them. And you can’t even count on geniuses to save the world.

I admire Helen Keller when she said, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”

Tiny push

I first got an email from Jay Michael Jaboneta in his early 20’s in 2006. He was jumping from one job to another in the corporate world seemingly looking for something meaningful.

Jay would write of his idealism and his ambition to help our country in a big way. Later, he told me he got hooked with Alex Lacson and helped him during the latter’s senatorial campaign and in setting up some foundations. Jay was an incessant blogger. I learned that he was born in Cotabato City where he finished high school, then completed his collegiate education in Ateneo de Davao.

When Jay was a toddler, his father would tease him that his cousin who was a year younger was already reading the Malaya newspaper when he was only four. This must have been the turning point and tiny shove for Jay. Since then, he developed a strange hunger for knowledge, until he blogged and Googled a lot. While working in Manila, he met other bloggers from Mindanao online, mostly doctors, media practitioners and other professionals who hated the perception that Mindanao is a war torn land. In fact, there are only 10 out of 10,000 barangays that can be truly classified as hotspots.

When Pnoy became President in 2010, my friend Sonny Coloma became Secretary of the Presidential Communication Operations Office. Sonny took Jay as Media Head of his office. In October 2010, Jay joined the fifth annual bloggers’ summit in Zamboanga City. He met his online friends and several volunteers. One volunteer talked of how children swim to school in Layag Layag, a nearby village where 200 Muslim families live in huts on stilts over the sea. They have no means to buy a boat, so their kids would swim two kilometers and walk four kilometers to school every day—their uniforms and books in airtight plastic wrappers.

Jay thought to himself, “In Manila, kids would skip school to swim. These kids would swim to go to school.”

Bothersome thought

The thought bothered Jay enough to take a bold move. He used his social network to create awareness of the deplorable situation. He caught the attention of marketing guru Josiah Go, and Anton Lim of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, and the rest is history.

Using confiscated logs from illegal loggers, Jay’s group asked boat maker Abraham Mawadi to build the first yellow boat, and named it “Bagong Pagasa” (New Hope). Attendance in the school soared.

When fellow Bicolana Dr. Ofelia Sy heard about the yellow boat, she took no time in contacting Jay in behalf of the Masbate kids. Jay coordinated with a television station to air the story, which started donations to pour in for the Masbate Funds for Little Kids. Three classes at DLSU-ST. Benilde donated their “baon” for the day for one week and helped raise funds for three boats (one boat costs roughly P7,000).

Today, Jay Jaboneta, Anton Lim and Dr. Sy have gone national - and international. Jay’s brainchild, the Yellow Boat Project, was featured in local television shows, and in CNN, Al-jazeera and Associated Press. If you want to help, check out The Philippine Funds for Little Kids (PFLK) at www.facebook.com/philippine.funds.

Jay says, “People power is not just about ousting leaders. It is also about taking on current challenges without waiting for authorities or celebrities to take the lead.”

Time for heroes

The world today needs plenty of heroes. The Philippines can have a fair share of them, too. It could be Efren Penaflorida or Efren Bata Reyes; Manny Pangilinan or Manny Pacquiao; Cory Aquino or Cory Quirino. Anybody can qualify to be a hero. What one needs is the belief that nothing today is impossible. Every human being has the capacity to do something worthwhile, no matter how small it is. Jay Jaboneta did not come from the planet Krypton. He does not have the superpowers that I dreamt I would have when I was a small boy. Yet, Jay made a difference to the hundreds of school children who now don’t have to swim to go to school.

Most heroes don’t work alone. As Andre Malraux once said, “One person may supply the idea for a company, community or nation. But what gives the idea its force is a community of dreams.”

Maya Angelou’s words are apt here, “To make a difference is not a matter of accident, a matter of casual occurrence of the tides. People choose to make a difference.” The key is to first believe in yourself. Then find company in people who can uplift you, whose presence, words and actions bring out the best in you.

Often, we look and wait for heroes to save the day for us. If we continue to wait, we could wait forever. June Jordan suggests that we look inside ourselves as he admonishes us, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” In the words of a great Filipino hero, “Only the Filipino can help the Filipino.”

The problem is often too easy to see. “Here and there, you’ll find people who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don’t seem to see that we must lift together and pull together,” says Kyle Carlson.

If you ask most of the boys who their hero is, they’d say. “My daddy is my hero.” I will always remember my dad, but I have many other heroes. These days, my hero is a blogger. So, “who’s your daddy?”

(Ernie is current Chair of IR Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM). He also chaired ECOP’S Long Range Policy Planning Committee. He was also President of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines in 1999. He is the President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center, a human resource consulting firm. His new books, “Life’s Big Lessons” and “Life’s Big Lies” are now available at book stores. Recently, he was voted “Best Newspaper Columnist of the Year” in the Pmapmakatao Awards for Media Excellence. He can be reached at ernie_cecilia@yahoo.com)

My presentations on Slideshare

Check out my presentations on Slideshare!

These are my top 3 favorites:

Top 1

The Yellow Boat Project

View more presentations from Jay Jaboneta

Top 2

Spinning the web of goodwill

View more presentations from Jay Jaboneta

Top 3

Building Movements - Masbate Funds for Little Kids

View more presentations from Jay Jaboneta

Check them out over at Slideshare.net! Thank you!

About me

Jay was recently named by Yahoo Southeast Asia as one of the 7 Modern-Day Filipino Heroes for his involvement in the project Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids which is now renamed as the Philippine Funds for Little Kids. His work with the fund has been featured by the Associated Press, CNN, BusinessWeek, Forbes, The Huffington Post, ABS-CBN’s Bandila, ANC’s Headstart with Karen Davila, GMA-7, GMA News TV’s News To Go, and other international and local news organizations.

He was the first and former Head for New Media under the Presidential Communications Operations Office and started the team that manages the President’s official website and social networking presence.

He is now a Consultant on Social Media Strategy & Marketing for some companies and nonprofits in the country.

Jay loves to help people, companies, non-profits and brands breathe life into their brand story.

Jay is a hungry man. He eats at least a hundred books a year, loves chocolate and sometimes can’t live without coffee. He has worked for organizations as diverse as the Philippine Government, Procter & Gamble Philippines, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (including Metrobank Card Corporation).

Jay believes remarkable people and organizations deserve the attention of the world.

You can reach him at http://twitter.com/jayjaboneta or http://www.jayjaboneta.com.

The Heroes of Masbate Funds for Little Kids

by Jay Jaboneta

Yesterday, I discussed about the heroes of the Zamboanga chapter of the Philippine Funds for Little Kids here. Today, I would like to name my heroes in what became known as the Masbate Funds for Little Kids.

(I have a disclaimer though, because of the high level of volunteerism that we’ve really seen in these two community development projects, I wouldn’t be able to name everyone. Rest assured that your deeds no matter how small has made a difference.)

Our story started with another conversation between me and Dr. Ofelia Samar Sy of Legaspi City, Albay.

Over the past few months while our project in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City was on-going, Dr. Sy kept forwarding to me concerns from the Bicol region. Many of which I felt powerless to act on until finally she shared to me a story about kids who also swim to school in Sitio Mababoy, Brgy. Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate. And then I thought to myself, this one I had experience with.

This was late May 2011, around the time when I just came back from my US trip where Facebook invited me to visit their headquarters to be part of a panel discussion on using Facebook Groups.

After a few days, a researcher from GMA News TV’s Brigada show, Genelie Sta. Ana, called me and asked me if there were still areas aside from Zamboanga City where kids swim to school. I immediately shared the story of the kids in Isla Mababoy which was shared to me by Dr. Ofelia Sy, which was in turn shared to her by DepEd staff Mr. Justino “Dong” Cabarles. My first thank you goes to Dr. Ofelia Sy and “Uncle” Dong Cabarles.

After 2 days, a GMA News TV crew headed by reporter JP Soriano went to Isla Mababoy and covered the story of the swimming kids in Masbate.

And so last June 13, 2011, we saw a special documentary on Brigada hosted by Jessica Soho the story of "Batang Lukso," where the kids of Isla Mababoy jump off a rock cliff first before swimming to school. And so my second thank you goes to the GMA News TV team led by Jessica Soho and JP Soriano for helping us bring out the story of these swimming kids in Masbate even before we started to ‘dive’ into the ground.

Immediately right after the show, donations for the Bagong Pag-asa yellow boats started to pour in. My third thank you goes to all the initial donors that made the Masbate Funds for Little Kids possible: Jacqueline Marzan-Tolentino of Eton International School, Noel & Mariel Tolentino, Presidential Sisters Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and Pinky Aquino-Abellada, Lisa Cheng, Josiah Go, Anton Lim, Gel Caguioa, Bonifacio Gillego family, Atty. Vito & Dr. Mayette Bose, ACER Philippines, Dr. Jullie Sy, and others who wanted to remain anonymous.

This allowed us to build 25 Bagong Pag-asa boats in one month with one boat that is bigger and motorized to serve as an ‘ambulance.’  My fourth thank you goes to Manuel Wong for making this ’ambu-boat,’ short for ambulance boat possible.

My fifth and very warm thank you (with lots of hugs) goes to donor Mariel Tolentino for donating and helping raise funds that made the makeshift school in Isla Mababoy possible. With the emergence of so many boats, enrollment shot up to 150 children. My sixth thank you goes to the 4 teachers that took the challenge of teaching in the makeshift school (my memory fails me for the moment but I will get the names, help Mr. Dong Cabarles).

My seventh thank you goes to all the other donors that made the materials needed for the makeshift school possible i.e. the chairs, tables, others: Alex Lacson, Wilma Zapata and many others. 

My eight thank you goes to all the volunteers of Pinoy Power Bicol Coalition Inc. (some of them are Eppie Daep, George Labalan, Efren Monsalve, Beth Plaza, Mrs Sampaga, many others), Albay Medical Society and other volunteer groups who paved the way for the successful establishment of the Mababoy Elementary School Extension, the 600 meter water pipe system, and other mini-projects in the island.

Almost the same with the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids, there are so many unsung heroes in this story: there isDir. Opay Tuy of DepEd Region V for allowing Mr. Dong Cabarles to assist us in coordinating our work in Isla Mababoy, there is Schools Division Superintendent Gilbert Sadsad who gave the first P5,000 to start the building of the makeshift school, there is school principal Letty Cervantes who coordinated many of the efforts done in Isla Mababoy as well, and Kagawad Glenda of Monreal who helped arrange the blessing and inauguration ceremony last July 2011.

As it was in my experience with the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids project, after my visit last July for the blessing and inauguration of the Bagong Pag-asa Boats and the makeshift school, we felt that our work in Isla Mababoy has just began…

The pages of my blog are surely not enough to name all the people, some are faceless and anonymous, who have allowed us to touch many lives in both the village of Layag-Layag and Isla Mababoy, but know that you have become part of the solution.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this journey, building a nation is a lot like building a boat. It takes one community, one village to do it.  

There is wisdom in the ways of our ancestors.  That’s why they called the smallest political unit in the country, the barangay.  It came from the word ‘balangay,’ which refers to the boat.  Because what they realize is that you really need the whole community united and in ‘kabayanihan’ to build a boat, to build anything. This experience has made me stronger and wiser because I gained confidence when I realized that we were always a smart race. I can only pray that the hope that the yellow boat virus has unleashed is just the beginning of this re-discovery.

(This is the second in my series on the little heroes write up… more to come…)

The Yellow Boat Fund (also called The Little Fund)

by Jay Jaboneta

Last October 30, 2010, I had the great opportunity to discuss the role of New Media in Nation-Building to almost 100 bloggers from all over Mindanao for the 4th Mindanao Blogging Summit.  Little did I know then that I was about to become part of the solution to one problem in Zamboanga City.

During the sidelines of the summit, I met with some of our campaign volunteers in the city and one volunteer, Juljimar Gonzales, told me of a story that during the presidential campaign last 2010 their group came across a group of children who were swimming just to be able to go to school.  The story really moved me.  I have heard of stories about elementary students having to walk 4, 5 or even 8 kilometers daily just to be able to go to school.  But have never heard of children braving the waters just to go to school.

I couldn’t sleep that night.  The next day, I went back to Manila and I felt the need to post the story as an update on my Facebook status.  I know the story will move people but I didn’t realize it will open their pockets.  My good friend, Marketing guru, Josiah Go, saw my status update and immediately started an online fundraising campaign among his friends (myself included).  I was surprised and I excitedly re-posted his call for donations.  In less than 7 days, the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids (as the fundraising campaign came to be known) raised almost Php70,000.  During this period, I asked Anton Lim, an active supporter of the President in Zamboanga City, to check the story.

In the middle of November 2010, I called up Anton if we can already look for a boat.  We had a hard time finding the right boat for the children so we decided to build it.  Anton, in behalf of the Tzu Chi Foundation, agreed to accept the funds we have raised and also raise additional funds from local donors.

It was a difficult journey though.  At first, we couldn’t find any boat-maker.  We found one but he lived in a far-away community; until finally Anton Lim through Kagawad Jesse Jamolod found a boat-maker (Abraham Mawadi) who came from the Layag-Layag community itself in Baranggay Talon-Talon in Zamboanga City where the children lived.  I thought the boat-building would start already but again we hit another challenge – finding the log to be used.

Fortunately, DENR was listening and CENRO IX donated the logs to the project through Tito Gadon.  In January 2011, the boat-building started.

And last Sunday, March 27, 2011, I joined Tzu Chi Zamboanga during the turn-over of the boat in Layag-Layag, Brgy. Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City.  It took us 5 months to finish the project but nothing can be compared to the joy you feel in your heart when you realize you’ve helped make a difference in people’s lives, no matter how small.  I slept well that night – it was as if I saw God smiled back at me.

My job includes receiving most of the email messages addressed to the Office of the President and monitoring the public discussions on the President’s Facebook Page and there are many times I feel so burdened with the country’s problems and I realize that I cannot possibly help all of them.

And that’s when I realize, after doing this project, that the role of New Media in Nation-Building is really to empower people not only with tools and information but more importantly with stories that inspire them to act on the problems they are facing themselves.

The boat we turned over was christened ‘Bagong Pag-asa’ (New Hope) – it is a symbol of change as we have a new President, a new government.  But more importantly, it is also a symbol of people power in action.  People helping other people solve their problems.  Nation-Building is truly about ordinary people helping other ordinary people.

You can be part of the solutions to the problems our country is facing.

And I know you also have dreams for the country.  I believe it is time we extend the meaning of People Power, one that not only changes governments and leaders, but one that also truly empowers our people – a people power that calls on every Filipino to become an active nation-builder.

I am sharing this story now because it is my belief that you can start your own versions of The ‘Little’ Fund among your family members, among your relatives, among your friends and among your colleagues to start creating solutions in the communities where you live or work.

I believe we can build our Dream Philippines even just by sharing our time, resources and know-how.

I believe this is at the core of the President’s Public-Private Partnerships, if you can see beyond the technicalities, PPP is nation-building at its core, where everyone is holding each other’s hand – no different from the dots forming a circle.  PPP is ‘Bayanihan’ – people helping their neighbors.

It is my fervent hope that this story has touched you in one way or another and that you won’t stop at just reading this – I hope you will tell yourself ‘I am part of the solution’ everyday and that you will start your own version of The ‘Little’ Fund today.

You can view a video of the March 27 boat turn-over and visit to Layag-Layag here.


I am forever grateful to all the people who helped make this happen:

  1. Sec. Sonny Coloma and the Presidential Communications Operations Office – for allowing me to attend the 4th Mindanao Blogging Summit;
  2. Josiah Go – for acting on my Facebook status update (I would never doubt the power of a ‘click’ again);
  3. OP New Media Team – Mitch Alvarez, Shella Raet and Regan Santos (who helped design the project’s logo);
  4. Our Wonderful Donors: Manuel Wong, Joshua & Marilyn Go, Howell Cu, Josiah & Chiqui Go, Rosanna Llenado, Lerma Advincula, Maximo Joaquin, Butch Jimenez, Jerry Caritan, Cindy Trinidad, Danessa Lu, Juju, Chase, Tricia and Calel Gosingtian – for sharing their blessings and taking the time to help out;
  5. Anton Lim – for being a gracious host and for being sport enough to run errands for the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids and really putting everything together;
  6. Tito Gadon (of DENR Region 9) – for donating the logs which were used to build the boat;
  7. Jesse Jamolod – for helping Doc Anton find the boat-maker;
  8. Abraham Mawadi – for building the boat;
  9. Tzu Chi Zamboanga – for helping out make the country a better place and supporting the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids (I have learned so much from your teachings);
  10. ColPascual (of Task Force Zamboanga) – for providing the security during the turn-over of the boat last March 27;
  11. Alex Lacson and my Kabayanihan family – for launching this Cultural Revolution calling on every Filipino to become part of the solution (united, there is truly little we cannot do);
  12. The nameless kids who swim to school – YOU ARE THE TRUE HEROES IN MY BOOK!

You can participate in the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids project by going to https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_165167500182101&ap=1.

Other articles about this project can be found at:

1. A life-changing facebook wall post by Michael Vincent Cajulao (re-posted in the website of the Presidential Communications Operations Office)

2. The Good Samaritans by Ubert Cruz

3. A facebook wall post that changed the lives of 200 kids in Zamboanga by Noemi Dado

4. When a Facebook wall post makes social impact by Cocoy Dayao

5. The New Media in Nation Building and the Little Fund at GoodNewsPilipinas.com

6. Christians and Buddhists raised funds and built Muslim kids a boat by Jay Jaboneta (on WhenInManila.com)

7. Zamboanga Fund For Little Kids and Pens of Hope Foundation by Karen Ang

8. Using the Internet for genuine social change by Rico Mossesgeld

9. Raising Little Funds by Ria Jose

10. Yellow Boat of Hope by PTV-4 Philippines (re-posted in DNA in Manila)

11. New Media in Nation-Building and the Little Fund by Zamboanga Today

12. Social media’s impact on charitable fundraising: Does it work? by USA Today Kindness Blog

13. Watch the Discussion on the new Facebook Groups by Facebook Live (where I appeared)

14. Facebook highlights Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids project by Best of Facebook Stories

15. Students no longer ‘swim’ to school, thanks to Facebook by ABS-CBN Bandila Program

16. Layag-Layag’s ‘SCHOOL BOAT’ by the Manila Times

17. Donated motorboat means children in Philippine mangrove village no longer must swim to school by Jim Gomez, Associated Press, Canadian Press

18. Donated motorboat means children in Philippine mangrove village no longer must swim to school by Daily Reporter, Greenfield, Indiana (Jim Gomez, Associated Press)

19. Kids in Philippine village swim to school no more by Herald Online (Jim Gomez, Associated Press)

20. Donated motorboat means children in Philippine mangrove village no longer swim to school by Newser (Associated Press)

21. Kids in Philippine village swim to school no more by Mercury News (Jim Gomez, Associated Press)

22. Thanks to Facebook, Kids Don’t Have to Swim to Class by Newser (Associated Press)

23. Kids in Philippine village swim to school no more by Boston Globe (Jim Gomez, Associated Press)

24. Blogger Jay Jaboneta Raises Money So Kids In Philippine Village Don’t Have To Swim To School by Huffington Post (Jim Gomez, Associated Press)

25. Kids in Philippine village swim to school no more by Seattle Times (Associated Press)

Here is the story illustrated:


Last August 26, 2011, Yahoo! Philippines formally awarded Alexis Belonio, Jean Enriquez, Tomas Leonor, Heidi Mendoza, Anna Oposa, Tzarina Saniel and Jay Jaboneta as the "Pitong Pinoy."

Last June 2011, Yahoo! Philippines started the ‘Pitong Pinoy’ project, where they sought to find seven Filipinos who have made a remarkable difference.

This is the official video of the awarding ceremony which was held at the Lounge in Seventh High at the 2nd Floor of B3 Quadrant 4 along 7th Avenue of Bonifacio Highstreet, Taguig Global City.

The Yellow Boat of Hope

by Jay Jaboneta

Beautiful Layag-Layag

Last April 1, 2011, I wrote about concept of the Little Fund.  It was a simple concept.  I wanted to share the story of theZamboanga Funds for Little Kids, a little project that started on Facebook among my friends.  It was a story about kids who swim to school.  And with the encouragement of Josiah Go and other friends, we launched a mini-fundraising campaign to buy them a boat – it later on turned out that we needed to build them a boat because it needed to be customized to the mangrove area.  (You can read the whole story here).

And as I shared then, what started as a simple Facebook post (click to learn more about the Facebook story) and a campaign to build them a boat turned out to become a little movement in Zamboanga to help the entire village of Layag-Layag.  Over the last four months, I have travelled to Zamboanga, to the village of Layag-Layag at least 4 times.  The first time was last March 27 when we turned over the first ever Bagong Pag-asa (New Hope) yellow boat.  It was a symbol of how social media tools can be harnessed for social good.

The second time was when I accompanied my good friend and soon-to-be popular film-maker, Luke Perez together with Tempest Films’ Zap Berenguer and Lester Castor, to shoot a video about our story.  (See their photos here).

The third time was when I accompanied a team from Facebook, who also shot a video about the story of the Layag-Layag kids who swim to school.

The fourth time was to accompany a writer and photographer of a popular magazine who also wanted to feature our story.

Over these last 4 months, almost all the major news organizations have visited Zamboanga City particularly our little village of Layag-Layag namely: SkyCable Zamboanga, ABS-CBNAl-Jazeera, and a host of other individuals and organizations.  And with that we are truly grateful, it has allowed our group, the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids, to continue helping the people of Layag-Layag.

It has allowed us together with Tzu Chi Foundation – Zamboanga, Rotary Club of Zamboanga, the city government of Zamboanga City and a host of other organizations to provide school supplies, plastic bottle bulbs, medical assistance, and scholarships to the students and people of Layag-Layag.  We have also began to engage with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to evaluate whether they can help the seaweed farmers of Layag-Layag in improving their operations.

As of today, August 4, 2011, 12 scholars from Layag-Layag are enrolled in the Zamboanga City State College of Marine Science and Technology.  Our story has brought confidence to the students of Layag-Layag.  They are now in a better position to pursue their dreams for their families and they have gotten the attention they rightly deserve.

It is my belief our country does not lack the heroes it needs.  We only need to empower them.  There is Abs Mawadi, the boat-maker who waived his labor fees for the succeeding boats that we are building.  There is Anton Lim, the veterinary doctor, who has fallen in love with Layag-Layag and continues to mobilize funds and people to help the community. There is Luke Perez, a good friend, who volunteered to create a short film out of our story.  There is Winston Almendraswho raised funds for his birthday so that we can buy the kids of Layag-Layag some school supplies.  There are so many of them, it might fill this page, and lastly, our donors who continue to support us in our efforts.

The US trip

Last April 28, I flew to the US to share the story of the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids to around 300 Filipino-Americans (you can watch my speech here), who were attending the first WeAreOneFilipino (WAOF) Summit in Las Vegas.  It was a wonderful opportunity to bring our story to the US and share how Filipinos in the US can help communities back home.

On May 16, I also participated in a panel discussion about Facebook Groups in Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California (see the discussion here).  It was another wonderful opportunity to share our story of Bayanihan in the age of Social Media.

How Zamboanga gave birth to Masbate

Upon my return from the US, another friend, Dr. Ofelia Sy from Legaspi City, Albay, shared to me another story, also about kids who swim to school in Monreal, Masbate.  An employee of the regional office of the Department of Education shared to her about the plight of the kids in Sitio Mababoy, Brgy. Guinhadap, Monreal, Masbate and asked her if we could also do something about it like how we helped the community of Layag-Layag in Zamboanga City.

I thought about it for a few days because we are still helping Layag-Layag and I feared we might not be able to help the kids in Mababoy Island.  Fortunately, a researcher from the show Brigada on GMA News TV called me and asked if we had another story of kids swimming to school.  I shared with her the story about the kids in Mababoy.  Within 2 days, they dispatched a team to Masbate and on June 13, 2011, we watched the kids of Mababoy on Brigada, who came to be called “Batang Lukso,” a documentary by JP Soriano.

After the show, so many well-meaning people including presidential sisters Bally Aquino-Cruz and Pinky Aquino-Abellada donated funds so that we can build the kids of Mababoy some little yellow boats. And again, as the case in Layag-Layag, the help and support poured in.  People were donating time, resources and efforts to help the kids of Mababoy.

In just over a month’s time, we were able to build them around 20 little yellow boats (the boats were a lot smaller than the ones we built in Zamboanga), again nicknamed Bagong Pag-asa, and a makeshift school with 4 classrooms for multi-grade learning.  The kids were all coming from different parts of the islands in the area that’s why we needed to build a lot of boats.


Masbate Funds for Little Kids

Because of this, the Masbate Funds for Little Kids, was born.

Last July 27, 2011, I went to Legaspi City, Albay despite typhoon “Juaning” so that we can formally inaugurate and have the blessing of the boats and the makeshift school which was scheduled on July 28.

Upon arriving in Legaspi City, Dr. Ofel and her team from Pinoy Power Coalition Inc. - Bicol started to prepare the donated goods which were drinking water, blankets, clothes, school supplies and raincoats for the people of Mababoy.

It was another hour of land trip to Pilar, Sorsogon where we rode a pump-boat to Mababoy. I didn’t imagine that I would be experiencing roller-coaster waves that day.  It was a moment of intense prayer.  What was usually a one and a half hour boat trip became 3 hours. But we arrived safely in Mababoy.

Beautiful Mababoy Island

The island (or Sitio) of Mababoy is located in Brgy. Guinhadap in the Municipality of Monreal in Masbate. Upon arriving in the area, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the beauty of Mababoy island. Legend has it that there are so many wild pigs in the island when the first settlers came (baboy is Tagalog for pig).

We arrived pretty late, around 6:00PM already. We off-loaded our cargo (donated goods, others) to the island and I went to see some of the kids who used to swim to school.  I saw 6 of them, mostly in elementary school. I could see the island where they need to swim to from afar. It didn’t seem that far but I think it was at least 500 meters. I wondered how they could swim that distance, little as they are.

After maybe an hour in the island, we transferred to a smaller boat and proceeded to another island where we were going to sleep the night.

The morning after was even better, when I woke up around 5:30AM, I immediately jumped out of bed and proceeded to the beach. It was a breath-taking view, with the sunrise on my left, I could see so many islands that dot the sea. And to my surprise, I could see baby sharks roaming around free near the bay. It was truly a wonderful island.

After swimming for 2 hours, we got ready to go to the island of Mababoy for the formal inauguration of the extension school.

We arrived shortly 30 minutes after and began the preparations. I got the chance to roam around as people were busy cooking and making some last minute improvements to the school area. This is when I got a sneak peek to what they were cooking for us that day, the last ‘baboy’ (pig) of Mababoy!

People from all over Masbate and Albay were starting to arrive - the priest who was to bless the school and boats, the schools division superintendent of Masbate Mr. Gilbert Sadsad, the schools area supervisor, representatives of the mayor of Monreal, other people from the local office of the Department of Education, and volunteers of Pinoy Power Coalition - Bicol.

Around 10:00AM, my good friend Anton Lim (who came all the way from Zamboanga City), Dr. Jullie Sy (the husband of Masbate Funds for Little Kids prime-mover Dr. Ofelia Sy), and members of the Albay Medical Society arrived. We started the program shortly after and the priest blessed the school and the boats. It was truly a momentous ocassion for the village of Mababoy. I could see the excitement of the parents.

It was truly an inspiring day. After the inauguration in Mababoy, we went to Guinhadap Elementary School, which was were the kids of Mababoy used to go to school to, before their extension school was built. Dr. Jullie Sy also works with AGAPP Foundation wherein they build pre-schools. So he decided to check up on possible sites for pre-schools as well. After that, we went for another possible site in Togoron, Monreal, an hour away from Guinhadap.

The sea was calm on our way back to Pilar, Sorsogon that day. We arrived at the port safely around 7PM.

Ripple Effect

And so what started as a single Facebook post on October 30, 2010 became a force for social good in the country.

There are now two movements (Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids and Masbate Funds for Little Kids) born out of this simple idea, two little funds that could. And I hear of two more areas joining soon!

Talaga ngang may Bagong Pag-asa na!

Ballsy and Pinky donate and facilitate donation for Masbate kids

by Ofelia Sy (originally posted last June 15, 2011)

Masbate Funds for Little Kids

After the GMA7 feature of the kids from Isla Mababoy in Monreal, Masbate who would not only swim to school but walk and dive as well and swim back home in their uniforms with their slippers on. One kid has asthma but landed as second honor pupil despite being chronically late in class due to long travel. Two kids were female who had to rinse with all the other male kids. I was teary-eyed watching the documentary.

Few minutes before showtime, I texted Pinky Aquino-Abellada, who minutes after the show was able to get a donor (Ms. Lisa Cheng) for two boats and today two more boats from Pinky and Ballsy. The 4 boats will be aptly named Noah, Luke (after Lisa’s kids); then Ninoy and Cory. I also got some possible pledges for boats from Mrs. Jacqueline Tolentino and possible other needs of the kids and hopefully classrooms. MyPhone VP may also donate classrooms. I was told by GMA7 team that more inquiries are being received.

Ang sarap maging Pilipino! Salamat sa inyong lahat! Salamat sa GMA7 team, kay Dr. Anton Lim and Jay Jaboneta. Salamat din sa Pinoy Power volunteers na sila George Labalan and Efren Monsalve. Higit sa lahat, salamat sa nagturo sa akin sa kakaibang kalagayan ng mga mag-aaral na to, si Dong Cabarles of DepEd, a Pisay co-parent.

Please watch replay of the Batang Lukso in GMA News TV with Jesicca Sojo and JP Soriano in Brigada on Saturday June 18 at 1PM.