Joshua Fajardo and Rommel Estabaya (2nd and 3rd from right) with fellow pillow artists (from right) Karylle Escoto, Jason Mendoza and Koryne Pangilinan during a shoot for Gina Lopez’s ‘G Diaries’Here is another successful and sustainable CSR project story, this time from Bantay Kalikasan of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. (ALKFI). The project has not only impacted the lives of its 35 members, but their items have also helped their customers have a pleasant sleep knowing that the pillowcases they bought are helping make lives better.The idea for this article was inspired by Bantay Kalikasan head Jen Santos whose son uses the attractive and colorful pillowcases sold by the members.
Sometime in 2016. An eco-youth club called Seeds of Dreams was launched at the Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp in Sorsogon province.
According to Mik Dizon, the Bantay Kalikasan site specialist overseeing Sorsogon, their camp community partner adopted Seeds of Dreams as their “giveback” activity to the youth.
The project gathers children to teach them about the environment through such activities as art, music, games and movies.
“Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp has been very supportive of this through the provision of a safe area for the kids to play and learn, and free meals in every session,” says Dizon. “And to create a more sustainable way to give back to the ecoyouth club, a social enterprise was created with environmental advocacy at its core.”
Through Bantay Kalikasan site specialist Joy Endraca, the mothers of the eco-youth club members were organized to become Seeds of Hope. At the core of the project is a drive to change the mind-set and behavior of the household in managing their waste and eventually reducing the waste they generate.
This is how they do it. First, the household assesses the trash they are producing, and sees that segregation and composting are the initial natural steps they should undertake.
From the segregated waste, the single-use plastic foil wrappers, for example, are given new life or upcycled to become pillows. Each pillow is derived from a converted 1.5 kilos of singleuse plastic foil waste transformed into functional art by the artists.
Volunteer mothers wash and cut the plastic into strips and use these as fillers for the pillows. The local volunteer artists then hand-paint the canvas pillowcase in support of this green initiative. These artists eventually become members of Seeds of Dreams as regular pillow painters.
The pillowcase artists
Joshua Fajardo first learned about the projects of ALKFI’s Bantay Kalikasan through their television programs.
“I got to know more about Bantay Kalikasan when an artist introduced me to Ate Joy Endraca, who explained the vision/ mission of the pillow project. I joined the project because of my gift of painting and I enjoyed doing my share for environmental care,” says Fajardo in Filipino.
Fajardo, who finished his degree in agricultural technology, finds the project quite challenging as it helps him manage his time and provides environmental discipline.
“Being an artist and role model helps enlighten the minds of my community and makes a difference in their perception,” he adds.
For Rommel Estabaya, it was also through television that he learned of Bantay Kalikasan and Endraca, who introduced him to site specialist Dizon. It became Estabaya’s dream to be part of the project; he pursued it by managing his time between being a pillow painter and student. He also made sure that he knew what his priorities were.
With five siblings, Estabaya is currently taking up a course in technology, major in architectural drafting, at Sorsogon State University. His father is a tricycle driver and his stepmother is a housekeeper.
“Being an artist in the Seeds of Dreams project has been a big help to my studies and also to my papa,” explains Estabaya. “I do not ask money anymore from my papa to support my studies. And with the ‘loving nature’ content of my painting, I hope to inspire others through my art pillow pieces.”
Joan Pura, Seeds of Hope team leader, became involved with the project because of her children who joined the Seeds of Dreams Eco-Youth Club organized by Endraca.
“We were enjoined to be responsible environmentalists especially when it comes to throwing our garbage, as taught to us by Seeds of Hope. Here, we as mothers were taught that it is good to dream in spite of our poverty and to follow our dream. Together with our dreaming is making sure that our surroundings are always clean, especially our rivers. My children’s eyes were opened regarding the importance of clean rivers and surroundings,” Pura shares.
The project started with no money. But with the members’ persistence in collecting trash by the seaside and segregating the plastic, they were able to slowly earn.
Pura’s income from cutting and stripping plastic helped to augment her fishermanhusband’s irregular income and provide for their two children.
“Even if I am just an elementary school graduate, I realize that I can still be a teacher and influence others with my environmental advocacy. I believe that even if I did not have enough education, I can teach others based on my experience. I am not ashamed to speak before an audience because I know that each of us can do something to help and be part of the solution regarding the waste problem,” Pura says. (Story/Photos by: By Dulce Festin-Baybay)
Seeds of Hope president Joan Pura