THE buwad (dried fish) has long been a staple Cebuano food and a source of livelihood for several local entrepreneurs like Rafaela Ducay, who works at the Taboan Public Market in Cebu City.
However in recent weeks, the buwad has become a symbolic tool of empowerment for Ducay, a member of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. - Microfinance (RAFI MFI). This product has become a staple item in RAFI’s relief packs.
With the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, RAFI, the Cebu-based Aboitiz family foundation, has tapped “nanays” to help in its COVID-19 response effort in the Visayas.
Tagged “RAFI MFI Nanays” they already earned a combined P8.9 million from selling vegetables, dried fish, and monggo for RAFI’s relief packages (nine Nanays) and for sewing hazardous material suits (two Nanays) and sleeping mats (banigs) (1 Nanay).
RMF Nanays in the dried fish and vegetable distribution supply businesses provided the contents of some of the 53,000 food relief packages distributed by RAFI to local government units (LGUs) in Cebu and Bohol.
Ducay said she was also able to help fellow mothers by employing 20 workers to pack the buwad.
“Dako kaayo ug tabang na niorder si RAFI namo. Nagpasalamat ko kay kung wala si RAFI, wala sad gyud mi karun sa panahon ug kalisod. Agwanta lang sa ta gamay, kay naa man gyud panahon na di ta katug-an na mahitabo. Importante healthy ta ug makatabang sad pud ta sa uban (RAFI really helped us a lot by ordering goods from us. I am thankful because if it wasn’t for RAFI, we will be left with nothing in this time of crisis. The situation came unexpectedly, but we just need to hang on. What is important is that we are healthy and we are also able to help others.),” Ducay said.
Approximately 4,000 PPEs have also been sewn by RMF Nanay seamstresses and already distributed to hospitals and other organizations.
“In this time of crisis, the Aboitiz Group all the more believes in empowering affected Filipinos by offering a sustainable economic lifeline. We hope that our efforts will make a difference in helping families get back up on their feet and continue thriving in these challenging times,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer.
“Banigs” (native sleeping mats) produced by RAFI MFI Nanays were also distributed to street dwellers and over 442 stranded passengers (mostly returning Negros Oriental residents) in the port town of Samboan, Cebu.
In addition to the P195 million allotted for COVID-19-related relief operations, a total of P40.5 million was allotted for interventions focused on COVID-19 prevention, screening & treatment, bringing RAFI’s total COVID-19 response efforts to over P235.5 million to date.
These efforts include a partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Visayas for the Bayanihan COVID-19 Centers in Cebu. There are also partnerships with LGUs and various barangays to help prepare isolation areas for the COVID-19 patients; prevention initiatives including the provision of PPEs; the #HUNAW handwashing campaign; the Komunidad Kontra COVID communication campaign; and partnerships for provision of various medical supplies to DOH for its COVID-19 massive rapid testing in various LGUs.
Aboitiz food unit Pilmico Foods Corporation has donated nearly P1.5 million worth of food and medical supplies to areas including Cebu, Bacolod, Leyte, Iligan, and Cagayan de Oro. Pilmico has also distributed about 520,000 bread loaves to support COVID-19 frontliners and affected families in areas that include Cebu, Bacolod City, and Iligan City (in addition to earlier efforts in Metro Manila).