11.04.10, Soda Sunday, 22:33

Latest ear candy: 80’s music and/or recent music that sounds like from the 80s. Thanks, Alan Wilkis, Yeasayer,  Atlas Sound and Mika. Latest vacation: Family’s excruciating road trip + roro ride to Southern Leyte. Latest vow: Stop eating red meat and drinking soda for 3 weeks. Guess how successful I was? Latest plugs: Traveling Bonfires-Philippines‘s summer productions in Baguio City and Quezon City. Kita kits ha!

Dear Niwee,

I am so glad to hear news of Filipino companies being more socially responsible and eco-friendly. For the past few months, I’ve been raving about Human Heart Nature (if not here, most likely on my Facebook, plurk and Twitter pages); its organic products are super effective, unbelievably affordable and pro-Filipino.

Just when I was looking for other Filipino brands with equally burning enthusiasm to help out our poor fellowmen, I got invited to visit Binalot Fiesta Foods’ Dangal at Hanapbuhay para sa Nayon (DAHON) Program Community in Nagcarlan, Laguna. This project initially started with their massive need for banana leaves to use for their rapidly growing market. Imagine this: the company needs about 3 deliveries of banana leaves per week yet the traders in the wet market charge up to 4 times its actual price. Worse, some sellers would include stacks of old newspaper underneath the banana leaves. Pinoys talaga! The last straw was the devastating aftermath of typhoon Milenyo – the tag price skyrocketed.

To address this demand for banana leaves (shelf life: 4 days only), they went looking for suppliers in the provinces. Luckily, they asked the right bystander whose grandmother happens to be selling banana leaves. To their surprise, the company needed thousands of banana leaves. The next thing they knew, Binalot’s CEO, Mr. Rommel Juan, established the mentioned program, allowing 31 families in Nagcarlan to have economic means and taking their children to a nearby pre-school center while they exchange stories at work. Parents get to earn a living for their family without taking the OFW route. Everybody wins!

Speaking of winning, this program earned nods from local and international award-giving bodies alike such as UPS as an out-of-the-box business solution in 2007 and Anvil Merit in 2008. 

Today, the management is developing another community in Zambales, hoping to provide jobs for the Aetas. Very impressive!

It is inspiring how the company wishes to set an eco-friendly example. Still, some concerns like take-out drinks and search for suppliers of free-range chicken, etc. need to be taken care of. Good thing my best friend wrote a guide on going organic in the metro. Maybe this could help for the latter. To minimize the use of plastic cups, perhaps they can urge their clients to bring their own mugs. Would this work?

Meet the bloggers and the children of DAHON employees with the Binalot CEO, Mr. Rommel Juan. Photo lifted from Simply Rins. Can you find me?