200 Embassy employees teamed up
with 175 Special Olympic athletes
Manila, March 18, 2013 – U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas will kick off “American CSR Day,” a first-in-the-Philippines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative involving eleven organizations, hundreds of volunteers, and close to 1,000 beneficiaries at eleven different events. American CSR Day, organized in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce, is an event in which employees of U.S.-based companies and organizations in the Philippines volunteer to give time and expertise to the local community.
Ambassador Thomas kicked off the day by joining the U.S. Embassy’s
CSR event, a “unified sports” program with Special Olympics. He also helped to serve elementary students in a school feeding program sponsored by Mead Johnson, a project done in conjunction with the NGO Kabisik ng Kalahi, the Department of Education, and the National Competitiveness Council.
Deputy Chief of Mission Brian L. Goldbeck also visited several CSR Day
events today. He joined volunteers from Bank of America in a Habitat for
Humanity project providing quality housing to families in Payatas; he
assisted in the distribution of starter kits at a livelihood project by Philip
Morris that provides vocational skills to young men; and visited a school
feeding program also supported by Philip Morris.
Several other American companies have held or will hold CSR activities
in conjunction with CSR Day. Also today, approximately 50 volunteers
from Dow Chemical built houses together with Habitat for Humanity in
Navotas. On March 19, volunteers from General Electric will hold career
orientation training for young people involved with Junior Achievement.
On March 22, around 40 IBM staff members will conduct mentoring
sessions with young women from a shelter for abused and exploited
girls called “Tahanan Sta. Luisa.” Later this month, Coca-Cola will sign
an agreement with the NGO Green Empowerment in connection with its
Agos Ram Pump project that provides potable water to water-poor
communities in mountainous areas. Proctor & Gamble held its CSR Day
event in February to accommodate the visit of Assistant Secretary of
State for Economic Affairs Jose Fernandez; its eStudyante project
provides laptop computers and technology to elementary students.
For the U.S. Embassy’s part, the entire Consular Section contributed to
CSR day by organizing a special sporting event: 200 Consular
volunteers teamed up with 175 Special Olympic athletes and caregivers
for soccer and bocce ball games - to promote inclusion and respect for
individuals with disabilities. Ambassador Thomas opened the event, and
the Embassy’s volunteers spent the afternoon mentoring adolescents
and donating over 1,000 books, blankets, and kitchen utensils to the
Department of Social Welfare and Development, and three local youth
organizations: Reach Youth Center, Don Galo Elementary School, and
Molave Youth Home.
Ambassador Thomas said, “The American Embassy is proud to join with
AmCham for this first American CSR Day in the Philippines. Throughout
the year, American companies play an active and socially responsible
role in the local community, and CSR Day highlights only a small part of
their overall contribution. Values such as volunteerism, hard work, and
good neighborliness are an important aspect of both the American and
Filipino cultures. The organizations involved in CSR Day are leading by
example by organizing activities to benefit people in need as well as the
2013 is the first year that the American Embassy and American
Chamber of Commerce have organized Corporate Social Responsibility
Day, to encourage member companies and their employees to come
together and showcase their involvement, and renew our commitment
to socially responsible business throughout the year.
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Recognation Day August 6, 2011
Twenty-two gold medals, 49 medals overall.
It was a golden harvest for the 38 extraordinary young men and women who made up the Philippine team that competed in the recently concluded Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. From June 25 to July 4, 7,500 athletes from 185 countries with various levels of intellectual disability competed in 22 Olympic-type sports.
Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports. The Special Olympics website states that “Dignity, acceptance, and a chance to reach one’s potential—these are human rights worth promoting for everyone.
In the Philippines, Special Olympics Philippines, was founded in 1978, and presently has 12,500 intellectually challenged athletes and 4,000 volunteer coaches registered in 13 regions throughout the country. Governed by a board of trustees headed by its vice chair and president, Ma. Therese J. Macapagal, Special Olympics Philippines is one of 22 members from the Asia-Pacific Region.
Great love, patience
Macapagal, who accompanied the delegation to Athens, was beaming with pride at the accomplishments of the Philippine team. “This only goes to show that when parents, teachers, communities and local government pull together, anything is possible. It takes great love, patience and support to achieve what these young people and their families have done,” she said.
Macapagal, who is married to former Olympian and current president of the Philippine Olympians Association, Arturo Macapagal, is the mother of Andrei, now 45, who was born with autism.
The gold medalists come from diverse backgrounds.
Just call me ‘Magiting’
One of the more senior ones is Magiting Gonzales who won three gold medals in the Powerlifting event. The 33-year-old library assistant at the National Youth Commission was born with autism but has an awesome memory for the smallest of details, birthdates specially. True to his name, his mother says, Magiting was never one to back down from difficulties. At his high school graduation from OB Montessori in Greenhills years ago, his batchmates gave him a standing ovation.
Louie John John Decolongon, 22, also garnered three gold medals in three separate divisions in the Powerlifting event. Louie, who was born with mild retardation, hails from Iloilo where his talent in powerlifting was discovered one day when his neighbors noticed that the teener was able to lift sacks of rice singlehandedly over his head. He lives in a small shack with his widowed father and says that if he ever wins any prize money, he would use it to buy a carabao so that their work on the farm would be made much easier.
In the gymnastics category, the lone athlete was La Union native Melanie Valdez, 17, who was also born with mild mental retardation. She brought home two golds for the Philippines.
Liza May Dayon, who competed in the Bocce event (a sport similar to bowling but played on natural soil or asphalt) is from Cadiz City. She was born with mild mental retardation and has had to contend with seizures for most of her life. Liza won two gold medals.
It takes a village
Macapagal said that funding for the team came from various sources. “I was very grateful that many of their local governments were quite supportive of their athletes. The mayors of Cadiz City and La Union were fully supportive of the athletes who came from their province. Even corporations pitched in to help. Companies like Toyota Iloilo and La Union helped fund the trip and the training that was needed.” The NCR delegates, Macapagal said, found the money for their uniforms and jackets and also sought help of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
SO Athlete Leadership Training Program
ATHLETE LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
Special Olympics Philippines (SOP) recently held its Athlete Leadership Program (ALP) Global Messenger - Beginner Course at El Cielito Inn in Makati to provide speech training and presentation skills to intellectually disabled athletes representing the movement. Alps train athletes to serve in meaningful leadership roles other than, or in addition to sports. They offer athletes an opportunity to participate as partners in all aspects of Special Olympics movement in the Philippines. Seen in photo with the participants are SOP National Executive Director Alex Babst (far right, back), SOP President Ma. Therese J. Macapagal, Vice President Suzette Babst, SOP Director and ALP's coordinator Cristina Cañizares - Gacuma and Asia Pacific program.
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A SPECIAL ‘O’ SUPPORTER
BLESSINGS come in bundles for Special Olympics Philippines (SOP).
Barely two weeks after successful launching of the Philippine participation to the 12th World Special Olympics with sports legend Nadia Comaneci, another Special Olympics personality makes a surprise visit to the country.
Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, chairman of the SO International, was in the country to promote his advocacy for the intellectually disabled to join some two million athletes from around the globe with the help of the country’s political, sports and business leaders and media.
Shriver is the brother in law of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and nephew of the late US President John F. Kennedy.
During his brief stay, Shriver got an audience with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and other government leaders. He conferred with Steve Hontiveros, secretary-general of the Philippines Olympic Committee and concurrent Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) president.
Shriver also presented to media some of the athletes who will represent the country in the World Games in Shanghai, China, scheduled from September 28 to October 10. He was also briefed by SOP officials of the development in the country’s Special Olympics programs.
Shriver played in a special fun game tournament featuring some special athletes, national team members, SOP officials, members of media and sponsors. The event was organized by the Special Athletes Bowling Association headed by lawyer Gani Zulueta, Damaso Cruz Jr., Soledad Ng, Irene Silos and Cristy Gacuma.
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