BAIPHIL’s HANDOG PAG-ASA Tulong sa Katutubo ng Mt. Purro Nature Reserve
Text and photos by Agnes Santos & Sally Magat Pursuant to its advocacy in Education, the Bankers Institute of the Philippines, Inc. (BAIPHIL) SPC Handog Pag-asa channeled funds to the community of at least 100 households living in Mt. Purro, Calawis, in Antipolo. Participating in an outreach project dubbed “Tulong sa Katutubo”, BAIPHIL donated 15 high powered modems to facilitate the students’ online studies and at the same time aid the parents in marketing their livelihood products online, a two-pronged approach to serve the needs of the poor and uplift the life of the indigenous Dumagat tribe. At the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain ranges in Calawis, Antipolo is the Mount Purrro Nature Reserve. The area comprises of 16 hectares cleared and developed by Ka Toto Malvar, a direct descendant of Gen. Miguel Malvar. It is an eco park and a nature reserve. Ka Toto’s desire to develop such a nature reserve was driven by his mother’s constant teaching to him that one must plant trees to sustain the environment. Thus, starting in 1988, Ka Toto began clearing the area which is a part of the 26,000 hectares Marikina Watershed. The reserve is distinct for its advocacy of a lifestyle of Stewardship. Simplicity and Sharing. Moreover, it highlights GOD, Nature, and People as the true members of personal and community development. The reserve has the ambitious goal of rehabilitating the Upper Marikina Watershed. It also wants to empower the community living within the area. Today, the reserve is a model community and has become a social enterprise providing alternative and non-destructive form of livelihood to those otherwise engaged in environmentally damaging practice. Ka Toto adopted a grassroots strategy for reforestation and watershed rehabilitation. The upland communities vocational and livelihood needs were prioritized before they were ultimately engaged as partners in bringing back the glory of the forest. The children are provided scholarships for their education. Their parents are engaged in livelihood mainly in the production of plant-based goods. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the community had difficulties in adapting to the online learning system because of lack of devices and logistics. At the same time, they needed food for survival. The Rotary Club of Mutya ng Pasig, a long-time benefactor responded by donating food and school supplies, while BAIPHIL Handog Pag-asa provided assistance in the procurement of high powered wi-fi facilities so that the children can continue with their education. BAIPhil is one of the Sponsors supporting Rawmags Social Entrepreneurship Program.