MANILA – Ayala group’s #BrigadangAyala continues to reach out to vulnerable communities greatly affected by the extended lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic following a similar group-wide effort last July.
Dubbed Kaakay, the Ayala group kicks off a 12-week food distribution program in select locations across Metro Manila, targeting some 10,000 families. Kaakay comes from the Filipino word akay, which literally means to lead by the hand.
“I personally find it hard to celebrate the Christmas season knowing we have fellow Filipinos barely able to eat. None of us can solve the problem by ourselves, but each one in his own small way can help,” said Rene Almendras, Ayala Corporation’s Senior Managing Director and Public Affairs Group Head.
“We hope to support breadwinners who lost their source of income or who has been on job rotation due to the pandemic. Many of them now have less than P200 pesos a day to survive on, and they are forced to stretch that to support a family of five. These are the people we want to help rebound by being their kaakay,” Almendras added.
Each #BrigadangAyala Kaakay beneficiary receives a weekly supply of rice, fresh vegetables, canned goods, and bread that will cover four square meals for a family of five. The food distribution is scheduled every week from November 2021 to February 2022, and has a projected reach of at least 500,000 individuals.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country’s unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent—equivalent to 4.25 million Filipinos—in September 2021, the highest since January this year. Meanwhile, 6.18 million out of the 43.59 million employed Filipinos were considered underemployed. Some Filipino employees, who remain under skeleton workforce, are forced to stretch a day’s worth of salary to last for three days. Others settled for day jobs with incomes that are much lower than what they used to make pre-pandemic. These vulnerable groups, Almendras said, are the target beneficiaries of #BrigadangAyala Kaakay.
#BrigadangAyala Kaakay also runs an inclusive eco-system of on-ground implementing partners like Virlanie Foundation, Caritas Manila, National Council for Social Development, and host barangays, while boosting the recovery and growth of local businesses by sourcing goods from rice farmers in Isabela (covering Regions 2 & 3), and vegetables from Benguet and CAR-based farmers. In addition, the bread included for food packs is produced fresh by a group of urban poor mothers who trained under TESDA’s community-based bread-baking project through Virlanie Foundation, as well as The Bread Project PH, which produces mingo bread, which contains monggo and malunggay.
“The Ayala Group through Ayala Foundation will provide food for 10,000 families for the next three months to help them get through the present difficulties and hopefully go back to regular working schedules or other means of livelihood thereafter. Working together with our business units and local communities for the good of the country is part of Ayala Foundation’s DNA. This is why #BrigadangAyala Kaakay provides us a wonderful opportunity to assist families through supplemental feeding. We hope that through this program, we are able to help thousands of Filipino families in a practical and meaningful way,” said Ruel Maranan, Ayala Foundation President.
“Ayala has and will always be the Filipinos’ kaakay for the greater good. We live up to our purpose of improving lives by responsibly responding to the needs of all our stakeholders and make a lasting impact to communities, to our country, and to the environment. That’s Ayala’s core, a promise we strive to fulfill with every project and decision we make. In fact, Kaakay is not just an effort among Ayala’s business units. Even employees are chipping in from their own pockets and volunteering so we can do more and reach more people,” he added.
#BrigadangAyala serves as the banner under which social development and corporate social responsibility initiatives across the Ayala group of companies is implemented. The initiatives covered under #BrigadangAyala range from disaster relief and response, assistance for public education, championing of social enterprises, and public health advocacy, among others.