Category: Philippines

Sponsored child Ronald, 11, receives an emergency food packet from Amelia, a parent volunteer leader who was assisting families after flooding in San Mateo, Rizal, Philippines.
Aug 14 2018

Disaster report

Heavy rains bring flooding to Philippines


Intense rains caused severe flooding in and around Manila, Philippines, Aug. 10-12, impacting about 3,500 families served by Unbound in Metro Manila and the neighboring Rizal Province.

Local Unbound staff reported significant property damage and crop losses, and some homes were destroyed. At this time, the staff has reported one death, that of the mother of a sponsored girl. The child’s sponsor has been notified by our Sponsor Services team.

In times of natural disaster, Unbound contacts sponsors personally if we learn that their sponsored friends or immediate family members have been killed or seriously injured. Communications are often disrupted in the aftermath of such events, and it may take several days or longer to get pertinent information. Unbound serves more than 46,000 children, youth and elders in the Philippines.

Multiple landslides brought on by the intense rains made travel hazardous in Rizal. Malou Navio, coordinator of Unbound’s program in Antipolo, reported that one group on their way to an evacuation center was nearly caught in a landslide, but escaped uninjured.

Navio also said that groups of Unbound fathers who’ve been specially trained for disaster response have been mobilized in their communities. These “ERPAT” groups have become an invaluable part of local rescue efforts in the flood-prone Philippines.

Sponsored child Ronald, 11, receives an emergency food packet from Amelia, a parent volunteer leader who was assisting families after flooding in San Mateo, Rizal, Philippines.


Unbound staff members are also offering assistance. They’ve brought food supplies and other relief goods to evacuation centers. Some of them have also been affected by the floods.

“What adds struggle to people affected by flooding was the thick mud that goes with the floodwater and enters their homes,” said Unbound’s communication liaison in the Philippines, Tristan John Cabrera.

Lingering monsoon rains exacerbated by Tropical Storm Karding, known locally as Yagi, moved through the island of Luzon Aug. 11. Rivers in low-lying parts of the metropolitan area were quick to rise over their banks and into streets, homes and businesses.

According to Cabrera, large numbers of people in the Metro Manila area were stranded in their homes or unable to get back to them. They were reluctant to venture out because of the high risk of illnesses caused by contact with the fetid waters, but some had no choice.

“There are a lot of people stranded on sidewalks,” Cabrera said in a report Saturday. “Transportation is almost unavailable. So they just walk, trying to look for at least a tricycle or motorcycle that could bring them closer to their homes. I also observe some vehicles offering a ride for stranded people. … They don’t care if they get wet because of the rain just to reach their home right away and be with their families. I witness how people help one another during times like this.”

Because the island nation gets more than 20 severe storms a year, our programs there set aside some sponsorship funds for emergencies. The number of families affected by this emergency, however, will put a strain on those resources, and it’s likely additional funds will be needed to help families recover. The typhoon season lasts until November, though severe storms also occur at other times of the year.

What you can do

  • Donate to Disaster Response. Unbound’s Disaster Response fund provides assistance to families in the aftermath of events like the flooding in the Philippines.
  • Make sure your contact information is up to date. In times of natural disaster, Unbound notifies sponsors personally if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured, so keeping your information up to date is important.
  • Pray. The Unbound community holds all those affected and those assisting with emergency response efforts in our thoughts and prayers.
  • Check here for updates. We’ll continue to provides updates as we receive additional information following this emergency and other storms.
This photo of flooding caused by Typhoon Henry in the Philippines was taken by the mother of sponsored child.
Jul 20 2018

Philippines bulletin update: Typhoon Henry


Typhoon Henry caused severe flooding as it approached the Philippines on July 17, causing 29 families served by Unbound’s Antipolo program to seek refuge at evacuation shelters. Knee-deep waters have been reported in the area, and some homes of sponsored families have significant water and mud damage. The Unbound ERPAT Disaster and Management Team, mothers groups and local staff served porridge to sponsored families and other evacuees at one evacuation site. The ERPAT, a federation of fathers who participate in the Unbound program, is following the situation closely and is standing by to assist sponsored families if their situations worsen. In times of natural disasters and other emergencies, Unbound will notify sponsors directly if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured or otherwise seriously affected. We will continue to provide updates on the situation as we receive information from the Philippines. Unbound serves more than 46,000 children, youth and elders in the Philippines.

Jun 16 2018

Celebrating heroic dads

Happy Father's Day from Unbound

Louie in the Philippines takes part in his local Unbound parents group.

For many, our dads are our first heroes. Whether it’s squishing spiders or lifting us up high on their shoulders, dads sometimes seem like they can do anything.

As we grow older, our dads become more human than superhero, but that doesn’t make us want to celebrate them any less. There are myriad examples of heroic dads within Unbound, whether their heroism is more on an everyday basis in their role as fathers or in more extreme situations such as natural disasters.
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Jun 13 2018

Philippines update after Typhoon Domeng


On June 10, tropical depression Domeng developed into a typhoon as it approached the Philippines. While the most destructive parts of the storm have moved beyond the Philippine islands, the storm was followed by monsoon rains, which have the capability to cause severe flooding and landslides. Roads in some areas of the northern Philippines were impassable, and the mobility of families served by Unbound’s Legazpi program and areas of the Antipolo program has been impacted by the flooding. In times of natural disasters and other emergencies, Unbound will notify sponsors directly if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured or otherwise seriously affected. We will continue to provide updates on the situation as we receive information from the Philippines. Unbound serves more than 46,000 children, youth and elders in the Philippines.

Crisanta directs traffic for the City of Tabaco,located near Mount Mayon in the Philippines.
Apr 14 2018

It takes courage

Three determined women show what it means to lead

The Unbound world is full of people gathering up their courage and taking risks in order to find success. Our sponsored friends and their families give us amazing examples of how we can all be at our best for each other. The following stories are about three women from the Unbound world who exemplify this strength and teach us what it means to be courageous.

The courage to be honest

Yomira, left, teaches Unbound scholarship students Gisela and Anjely about the record system used by the Lima office in Peru. The students work in the office to fulfill community service requirements of the scholarship program.

Yomira, 22, is a former sponsored child who is now a full-time Unbound staff member in Lima.

Growing up in a small community outside of Lima, Peru, Yomira and her peers were confronted with drugs, gangs, prostitution and alcoholism. Relying on the values of her strong family and a healthy sense of self-esteem, Yomira was able to avoid these pitfalls. She channeled her energy into dance, where she performed with a group at schools and public events.

Difficulties did come, however, when Yomira became pregnant at a young age. Since she had established good communication with her Unbound sponsor, she decided to share the news with her.

“At first, I thought, ‘I’ve lost everything.’ My parents were upset with me, and I thought she [my sponsor] was not going to continue being my sponsor; I really did not know what to do,” Yomira said. “But she wrote me and told me that she was going to continue supporting me.
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Ash cloud from Mount Mayon, Philippines.
Jan 23 2018

Families in Philippines anxiously wait as Mayon Volcano threatens to erupt


On Wednesday, the Mayon Volcano on the island of Luzon in the Philippines continued to spew lava and ash, signifying that a major eruption may be imminent.

“Almost every five hours, Mayon Volcano is erupting with lava fountains and spewing mushroom-like ashes,” said Unbound staff member Klaire Perez. “The ashes are being carried by the wind to the southern part of Albay [province]. Yesterday, I was home and I had experience of one of the worst ashfalls. It suddenly went dark and it literally started raining ashes. It’s a bit scary, but it’s more scary for communities just below Mayon Volcano.”

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has set the threat level at 4, the second highest, and more than 56,000 people living in the area have now been evacuated, according to news reports. As of Friday, the evacuees included at least 193 families served by Unbound’s program in Legazpi, coordinator Angie Bermas said. But with the widening of the evacuation zone to a 5-mile radius over the weekend, the number has likely increased.

The volcano is in the Albay province in the Bicol region, in the east-central part of the island. Flights in and out of Legazpi have been canceled, and schools throughout the province are closed.
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Jan 13 2018

Our house dances with the wind

Realities of Poverty series: The life of a squatter family

This is the first in a series of stories focusing on the challenges of finding adequate, affordable housing in the economically developing world. It originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of our print publication Living Unbound.

An image of a squatter village in Metro Manila, Philippines.

Sponsored child An-An and her family live in this flood-prone squatter village. The high-rise buildings of Manila loom nearby but are, in some ways, a world apart.


The United Nations estimates that at least one in eight people living on Earth today resides in a slum. A high percentage of those are squatters, dwelling without permission or legal protection on land they don’t own. Left with little or no choice, some erect makeshift housing on public properties, some occupy abandoned buildings and some inhabit any space they can find. Most live in extreme poverty and are, for all practical purposes, ignored by their local governments.

Calvary Hill is a street that winds along the banks of the fetid Ermitaño Creek in the heart of metropolitan Manila. This is a squatter village and, as the name suggests, it’s a place of hardship. A row of ramshackle dwellings stacked two, three and sometimes four or more stories high stretches around the creek bend and out of view, like a house of cards made from a thousand crumpled, mismatched decks.
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An elderly woman stands outside her home.
Dec 23 2017

A simple Christmas wish

Sponsored elder, Unbound staffer share Christmas joy

An elderly woman stands outside her home.

Sponsored elder Salvacion stands outside her home in Zambaoanga, Philippines.


Throughout the year, Unbound’s communications liaisons interview dozens of people to help us share the stories of the people we serve. Sometimes, they meet someone who inspires them in unexpected ways. That’s what happened to Tristan John Cabrera, who is based out of an Unbound office in Quezon City, Philippines, when he visited 84-year-old sponsored elder Salvacion in Zamboanga. Salvacion has been sponsored by Stephanie from Louisiana for almost 16 years.

“Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me.” (Psalm 71:9)

On a recent visit to our program in Zamboanga, in the southern part of our country, I felt so touched by a particular elder from there. Her name is Salvacion, or “Lola (Grandma) Salvacion,” as they call her. Many residents of Zamboanga, including Salvacion, speak a Spanish-based language called Chavacano. Visiting the city, I heard, “Bienvenidos de Zamboanga,” which means welcome to Zamboanga. I don’t understand much of the Chavacano language, but since some residents also speak Filipino, which I speak, we can still communicate.

Here in the Philippines, we are very caring toward our grandparents. We take care of them no matter how hard it is, most especially if the elder is bedridden or unable to walk anymore. I remember my “Lola” (grandmother) who took care of me when I was a child while my parents were working. I wasn’t able to take care of her when she was really weak because of her age, as I was only 7 years old. I wished I was old enough at that time to give my Lola all the best care that I could give.

Salvacion lives in a small home made up of scrap materials that might collapse anytime. The pathway going to her house is flooded with thick mud, and I myself was actually hesitant to walk on it. She just wears her old boots and washes them out as she goes back and forth.

According to her neighbor, who also happens to be a sponsored elder, Lola Salvacion is a strong woman. She lives independently. She doesn’t bother her neighbors just to ask for food or drinking water. They just check on her every morning to see if she is still OK, and sometimes they give her food.

It must be really hard for Lola Salvacion to live alone in the area, especially considering her age. At 84, she can still walk, but you can see she is already struggling. Her voice is husky and dry, with teary eyes. I notice her back is already bending as she stands and walks. But seeing her without anyone who could hold her hands while walking is very painful for me. Everyone with me is looking at her as she walks in the mud, thinking she might fall.

Everyone is saying, “Ingat ingat nay,” or “Careful, Mother.”

I am holding my camera because I want to show people how strong she is through the pictures and videos.

As we go along in my interview, I ask her if she has one wish for Christmas, what would it be? She said it would be to eat chicken, either adobo chicken (a Filipino specialty with meat marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and other seasonings) or fried chicken. Do you know what comes to my mind? (And I know if you are in my position, you will do the same thing.) I decided to treat her to lunch, together with the program staff and our driver. It’s a surprise for her.


We visited a food chain serving fried chicken. Lola Salvacion looks so happy seeing where we are heading (going to Jolibee, a popular restaurant in the Philippines). We ordered what she likes with fries and a soft drink. I decided to pack my food and give it to her. She accepted it and told me that she will just eat it tomorrow. She also packed the remaining foods that she had and she said, “I can reserve these foods and eat it when I get hungry.”

After we ate, she confidently smiled at me. She said, “’Thank you very much,’ and I said, “’No, no, no, I must be the one to say thank you. You are really inspiring, you touched my heart, and I know your sponsor and the others will be happy to see your story.’”

Sometimes there’s no need to ask too many questions because the answer is already there in your eyes. The way I look at her, I remember my grandmother and how she would do everything to take care of me while my parents were at work. Lola Salvacion’s situation, living alone, is not common here in the Philippines. We really take care of our grandparents. We do everything we can to assist them until the end.

I know Lola Salvacion she has already found a family through Unbound. Love of neighbor, love coming from staff and parent leaders, her sponsor and love coming from within. That’s what makes Lola Salvacion keep on going strong in whatever challenges she encounters.

Let’s give love to our grandparents. They are also the reason why we are here in this world. They made a lot of history to secure our future right now.

Give love to the grandparents of the world. Sponsor an elder today.

Sep 4 2017

Building up potential

Former Zamboanga scholar shares lessons learned from Unbound

Former Unbound scholar Helen wears her police uniform with pride.


In the United States, Labor Day is meant to celebrate the contributions of workers toward the success and prosperity of the country. It’s a day to rest and say thanks for all their hard work.

Unbound communities are also full of hard workers, from moms and social workers to group leaders and scholars. According to former Unbound scholar Helen from the Philippines, being part of the scholar program even helped instill a stronger work ethic in her and her fellow scholars.

Helen is the second youngest of four siblings. While she was never sponsored through Unbound like her sister Rose was, Helen did take part in the Unbound program for two years when she became one of the service scholars for the office in Zamboanga, Philippines.
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Image of a woman in Uganda shoveling compost.
Jul 1 2017

Parents increase benefits using the power of community

Groups in Uganda, Philippines provide support and encouragement

Image of a woman in Uganda shoveling compost.

Maxensia shovels compost made from pig manure produced on her farm in Uganda. She uses it to fertilize her coffee plants. Maxensia’s son, Lawrence, 21, is sponsored by Albert in Washington.

Maxensia, a widowed mother of eight, tends to her coffee plants in a village in Uganda. Nearby, 11 pigs sunbathe in a sty built of rough wood.

At age 50, Maxensia has become an entrepreneur. Her pig farm is growing, and she also runs a small coffee farm.

After her husband died 17 years ago, Maxensia struggled to provide for her children’s basic needs. Her son, Lawrence, was sponsored in 2006, and she joined the Unbound support group for parents of sponsored children. Through the group, she got a boost toward economic self-sufficiency.

“I have gained a lot by being a member of the group,” Maxensia said. “I have been empowered to improve my life and that of my family.”

In Uganda, like in many other countries where Unbound works, parent groups serve as the foundation of the sponsorship program for children. When a child is sponsored, parents or guardians join the local group. They receive training from Unbound staff, save money by making small contributions to the group savings and gain access to loans. In parent groups, the impact of sponsorship is multiplied through the power of community.

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