Last Wednesday (July 11), I was able to talk with Former Congresswoman CYNTHIA VILLAR during the awarding of livelihood grants to seven (7) repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) through the Sagip-OFW Program of the Villar Foundation at Max’s Restaurant, Starmall Shaw.
Cynthia Villar is currently the Managing Director of the VILLAR FOUNDATION. The Foundation is celebrating its 20th Year Anniversary this year.
The livelihood packages were given to Simeon Cerezo, Shally Mar Cruz, Romielyn Daguplo, Joanalin Pascua, Joselito So, Jovita Tallada, and Jose Gerardo Vasquez. All of whom are former OFWs in the middle east, except for Tallada who was from Singapore.
“Many OFWs who are either repatriated or returned to country on their own, have a difficult time restarting their lives here. They need help in the form of jobs and livelihood opportunities. The livelihood assistance we extend to them are just enough to get them started, it is up to them to make their small business grow.” – Villar said
Villar personally distributed the grocery packages from Puregold to the seven OFWs. After the turn-over, she sat down with us and we were able to ask her a few questions about the foundation, her plans in the upcoming elections and a few other things:
What are the plans of Villar Foundation for its 20th Year Anniversary?
VILLAR – Continue the projects of the foundation, OFW Assistance, Livelihood Projects, Environmental Projects, Sports Development with our annual billiard tournament. In September, we will inaugurate the Sendong Memorial in Cagayan De Oro. November, we will once again hold the OFW Summit with GONegosyo. And this December, we hope to also inaugurate the Sipag Center in Las Pinas which is a resource center for poverty reduction which aims to make researches and conduct training to Local Government Units (LGUs) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) about the different approaches to poverty reduction.
What will happen during the OFW Summit?
VILLAR – The summit will be a one day event at the World Trade Center. The objective is to provide the means and the options for OFWs to help them and their families improve their quality of life here in the country. There will be a lot of speakers that will talk about various topics. Booths that may provide them with opportunities like direct selling, small franchises, service vehicles, remittances, loans and many more. Plus the Villar Foundation will also raffle-out a House and Lot to one lucky OFW who participated in the summit.
What is the Sagip OFW Program?
VILLAR – The Sagip OFW Program of the Villar Foundation extends various forms of support and assistance to OFWs: repatriation, medical, livelihood, skills-up training, scholarships among others. We receive requests coming from emails, mail and referrals which is usually coursed through Camella which acts as our satellite offices present in 57 cities nationwide.
VILLAR – We would also like to build livelihood projects all over the Philippines or inspire them to duplicate the projects of the Villar Foundation like the coconet factory and composters for farmers. Malaki ang kita sa coconet provided may market. That’s why we have been urging the DPWH to buy coconet kasi may EO na pero hindi naman sinusunod.
VILLAR – We would also like to promote the use of organic fertilizers from wastes. Ang isa sa mga problema ng farmers ay ang kakulangan ng kakayahan para makabili ng fertilizers. There are 3 inputs of agriculture, seeds, fertilizers and irrigation. Teach farmers to make fertilizers. Seventy (70%) of the poor are in agriculture - help the farmers and really make a difference in the country.
Your plans in politics?
VILLAR – The Nacionalista Party has 4 candidates for the senatorial race – Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes, Gov. Ace Barbers and myself. The Nacionalista party is in coalition with the Liberal Party and MPC in the 2013 senatorial slate. The local slates are subject for arbitration.
Your thoughts on the PhilHealth issue for OFWs?
VILLAR – Ok ang Philhealth, however OFWs prefer that their health insurance are also based on the country where they work. Para mas madali ang pag-claim ng mga benefits.
Your thoughts on the death of Dolphy
VILLAR – My husband (Manny) and my sons love Dolphy, Manny even recommended the comedy king as a national artist long before he was able to meet him personally. Malakang kawalan si Dolphy sa institusyon. There will never be another Dolphy.
The Vision of Villar Foundation
VILLAR – Villar Foundation started a humble beginning in 1992 with the people from Las Pinas and Muntinlupa as its direct beneficiaries. We started with just trainings, kaso we found out na kung puro trainings lang wala naman nangyayari. Kaya ngayon, bukod sa mga tainings, meron din kaming actual. Twenty years from now, we would like to see how the ‘Sipag Center’ evolve.
Hindi lahat pinapasok namin, we set parameters because we don’t want to be out of focus. We stick to our advocacy and we’re here to make a difference.
VILLAR – I am also currently in the process of establishing a hand-made paper factory. Using paper wastes and recycling them to become hand-made papers.
15% of wastes are paper wastes, 50% are kitchen and garden wastes which can be transformed into organic fertilizers through composting. Solid wastes like plastic can be processed into other materials like hollow blocks. Kayang-kaya ang zero-waste kung lahat desidido plus this also generates additional livelihood projects for people.
Start by finding a market for your output before starting the project.
The organic fertilizers we generate from our kitchen and garden wastes processing are being donated to farmers to selected provinces every Month.
Our coconet business finances blanket weaving projects that produces around 600 blankets every Month that we give as calamity assistance.
Why are the projects of Villar Foundation not replicated?
VILLAR – Most are closed-minded. Even if you show them that the system works they still don’t want to believe. Ayaw maniwala. Para sa kanila mas malaki kasi ang kita at mas madali para sa kanila ‘pag itatapon na lang nila kaysa i-recycle.
Final word from Cynthia Villar
Desidido ako sa mga ginagawa ko, takbo lang ako ng takbo. I don’t care. Kung ayaw sumama maiwan, kung ayaw nila maiwan. Dadalhin ko lang yung may gusto, bakit ko sasayangin oras ko sa ayaw. After a while, yung gusto nagiging successful tapos yung iba naiinggit tapos nagpaparticipate na din. Well, yung iba naman makakapal talaga ang mukha. Minsan kasi maiinis ka din dahil hindi sila cooperative.