CLAFI Pockets National Awards in its Efforts to Boost Education Literacy and Volunteer Works

MANILA, Philippines—After receiving recognition for their educational and literacy initiatives at the National Literacy Awards (NLA) 2022 and by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) in December, Conrado & Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation, Inc. (CLAFI) finished 2022 with flying colors.

Image courtesy of CLAFI

The corporate social responsibility division of the Alcantara Group, known as CLAFI, works to improve the lives of Mindanao communities in Sarangani Province, General Santos City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Zamboanga City.

CLAFI’s Bukas Kaalaman Program: Pagbasa at Pag-unawa Para sa Kaalaman at Kinabukasan won second in NLA’s Outstanding Literacy Program along with four other Non-Government Organizations (NGO) in the country selected from 11 regional NGO entries.

The program encapsulates CLAFI’s education projects that give importance to reading as a child’s foundational literacy skill.

CLAFI President, Cecile A. Dominguez-Yujuico said the literacy projects of CLAFI respond to the literacy needs of culturally diverse communities through innovative and culture-appropriate interventions.

“One of the pressing issues that CLAFI identified is the lack of mother tongue learning materials, particularly for Blaan communities in Sarangani Province,” Dominguez-Yujuico shared. “Through the PhilAM Fund and partnership with the Department of Education, we developed the Flalok Project and co-designed mother tongue learning materials, based on Blaan folklore. These materials were complemented by mother tongue textbooks for learners and teaching guides for teachers.”

The Flalok Project revives the Blaan Art of Storytelling, and has been implemented in schools across South Central Mindanao such as Sarangani, South Cotabato, General Santos City, Koronadal City, and Sultan Kudarat. The learning method follows the Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education (MTBME) paradigm of the Department of Education.

CLAFI also implements its Summer Big Brother program (SBB), their banner literacy project that provides summer remedial reading sessions for learners in need of reading comprehension skills. This started as a collaborative project of CLAFI and the Provincial Government of Sarangani in 2007, and has also been adopted by communities in Compostela Valley, Iligan, Zamboanga, and Davao.

CLAFI Executive Director, Mr. Richlie Lyndon L. Magtulis, narrated how their literacy projects resulted in improved literacy rates of schoolchildren.

“Our SBB helped improve the reading capacity of almost 10,000 children who cannot read,” Magtulis said. “The Flalok Project, on the other hand, reinforced literacy to more than 15,000 Blaan learners with test scores of 88% in post-test from 58%.”

Image courtesy of CLAFI

Volunteerism and community engagement

CLAFI was also recognized for its education initiatives by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) during the National Volunteers Month.

The Outstanding Volunteer Award recognized CLAFI as a leader and role model that exemplified service to others through its various volunteerism works to provide equitable access to quality education and protect the environment.

To date, CLAFI helped improve the reading capacity of close to 10,000 learners, contributed to the continued learning of more than 60,000 learners despite the pandemic, developed contextualized learning resources especially for the Indigenous Peoples learners, produced the first of its kind contextualized learning material on child rights, and influenced replication of volunteer works to other education division offices in Mindanao.

Further, the organization also had environmental efforts such as improving abaca and coffee production of farmers through a USAID-funded Farmers Field School in Maasim, Sarangani Province, facilitating market referrals of the coffee and abaca produce of farmers and improving their income, providing of six (6) abaca spindle stripping machines, thereby increasing productivity and income for farmers, and rehabilitation of more than 700 hectares of the Siguil and Kablacan watersheds.

Vice Mayor Jean Delos Santos of the Municipality of Malapatan, a former CLAFI staff member and a key stakeholder in the Municipality of Malapatan, Sarangani, shared how the work of CLAFI helps develop communities.

“My heart for the communities started when I was a staff of CLAFI back then. I have seen how they work hard to help and how the communities have developed as a result,” Delos Santos shared.

“In fact, my work with CLAFI inspired me to step up through our government. Now that I am the Vice Mayor of the Municipality of Malapatan, I still bring with me the value and passion for volunteerism that CLAFI instilled in me.”

Without the consistent and steadfast support of numerous donors and sponsors, especially the Alcantara Group, a Mindanao-based group of businesses with interests in aquaculture, agriculture, real estate, and power generation, the success of CLAFI’s activities and projects would not have been possible.