Mandaue Chamber of Commerce project finalist in Italy world congress

caption: Editha Bonghanoy found P600 among trash at the Umapad dumpsite in Mandaue City. The amount enabled her to start a food business.

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Women in Need, Now Entrepreneurs and Rolemodels or WINNERS made it as a finalist to the 9th World Chambers Congress in Torino, Italy picked from 79 applications of 39 countries.

In an electronic correspondence, Alexandra Jercaianu, project officer of International Chambers of Commerce – World Chambers Federation in Paris, France congratulated the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry as WINNERS has been “selected as a finalist in the Best Non-Conventional Project category.”

A record number of 79 applications from 39 countries were received for the 2015 World Chambers Competition and that the full list of finalists in the said category are: Stavanger Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Norway), Chamber of Commerce of Zaragoza (Spain), Calgary Chamber of Commerce (Canada), and Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Philippines).

According to WINNERS project chairperson Ms. Carmel de Pio-Salvador, the chamber will be joining other finalists in front of WCF’s panel of international judges for a live presentation at the 9th World Chambers Congress from June 10 to 12, 2015 whereby a Q&A session will tackle the innovative nature of the project, the impact of the project on the chamber and or the business community; measurable outcomes (financial, business and job creation, participation rates, membership recruitment, people involvement); the relevance of the program in the target category, as well as potential for the project to be successfully adopted by other chambers of commerce throughout the world.

The “Search for WINNERS” was launched on July 26, 2011 at the Benedicto College Campus in Mandaue City. Now on its fifth season, the project is MCCI’s quest for model women micro-entrepreneurs from Mandaue City who are supporting their families and are struggling to rise from abject poverty through their business ventures. Their stories of perseverance and creativity, integrity and strength of character are to inspire other women to be empowered, says de Pio-Salvador.

Community development leaders validate the competence of these micro-entrepreneurs to represent barangays of Mandaue City. The finalists go through Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Training, Basic Banking, Formulation or Structuring of Business Plans, Personality Development, as well as Sponsors Tour wherein they gather more insights and perspectives in other traders’ business ventures.

“It is our goal to make the program a national advocacy. Women entrepreneurs today make up more than 50 percent of the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises, thus they should be given a place in national development,” de Pio-Salvador shared.

Editha Bonghanoy, for example, is scavenger turned entrepreneur.

Bonghanoy, a vendor from Barangay Umapad, lives near the city’s dumpsite. She used to survive on segregating trash that can be sold at junkshops, a way of life she, sort of, inherited from her mother. One day, while performing the backbreaking task of scavenging, she pulled out of the dump an envelop containing P600 (six hundred pesos) or roughly 14 US dollars (based on US$1 = P43 exchange), as of this writing.

Bonghanoy decided to leave scavenging behind by investing the money in a startup business. She started frying chicken parts like neck and feet which became a hit in the neighborhood. The crispy chicken business provided for her family decent meals, an opportunity to send her grandchildren to school, thereby nurturing hope that the blessing breaks the cycle of poverty in her family.###

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Special parenting

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

Caption: Interior designer//special parent Malu Tiongson-Ortiz pens “Embracing God’s Purpose for My Special Child.”

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — All her life, interior designer Maria Lorraine “Malu” Tiongson-Ortiz always wanted to have a baby girl.

Clarissa Lorraine, or Clarisse, came into her life in 1987. But she’s different!

The moment Malu learned that Clarisse has Down Syndrome, all kinds of emotions welled up at once. “I was happy and excited over her birth, but I also felt anxious, angry, despairing, guilt-ridden and ashamed. Perhaps, most of all, I experienced a terrible fear of the future,” she shared in her book “Embracing God’s Purpose for My Special Child” published by OMF Literature, Inc.

In the said book used as a reference tool in her “Special Parenting” talk in line with the culmination of PWD (Persons with Disability) Month end of July, at the Ayala Center Cebu The Gallery, Malu mentioned on how happy and excited she was over the birth of Clarisse, her third child. But she also wondered how she would cope for the rest of her life with such overwhelming burden. “I wondered if there would ever be laughter again or whether the happier side of life had been lost forever. I wished I could feel joy, but the pain was too strong,” she disclosed.

Down syndrome (DS) is named after the English doctor, John Langdon Down. In 1866, it was said, that he defined features of the condition. Down syndrome is the term used today in preference to older – degrading – labels such as Mongolism, Mongoloid, or Mongol. These are now unacceptable and misleading, Malu stressed.

In 1959, the French physician Jerome Lejeune identified DS as a chromosomal anomaly. Cells of individuals with DS, he observed, have 47 chromosomes present instead of the usual 46. It was later determined that an extra partial or complete 21st chromosome results in the characteristics associated with DS.

Clarisse was born multi-handicapped, Malu revealed. As a child with DS, she was diagnosed to have moderate to severe mental retardation due to her inability to hear. Her left ear is “severely to profoundly deaf” while her right ear is “moderately to severely deaf.” Because of this, she is unable to speak.

“My daughter was also born with a left leg that is two inches shorter than her right leg, so her hip hurts when walking for a long time,” Malu added. “In fact, her muscles and ligaments on her left foot have stiffened permanently in a tiptoe position. Clarissa’s mood swings and occasional bursts of rage were due to a mood disorder.”

Then Malu turned to the main topic of the talk: The Financial Challenge in raising a child with special needs. She understands very well that there is no way to avoid tests and future bills. “Giving birth in the US cost a lot of money to start with. I’m thankful to my husband Claro and my father-in-law. But I couldn’t help from worrying about the future bills we would have to pay for all our daughter’s tests. Having a special child is financially draining,” she pointed out.

While parents of ‘normal’ kids only need to pay the hospital bills, doctors’ fees, immunizations, etc., Clarisse had to regularly see her pediatrician, an endocrinologist, an orthopedic doctor, an eye/ear/nose/throat specialist, a dermatologist, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and a physical therapist. Malu and her husband Claro also needed to set aside a substantial amount for Clarisse’s yearly blood works, electrocardiogram test, hearing tests, thyroid test, corrective shoes, and weekly purchase of anti-seizure medicine for her mood disorder, as well as ointments for her allergies. Highly sophisticated hearing aids for both ears came later on.

Good thing that Malu and Claro are able to establish a deeper relationship with their Creator. They served the Lord at Christ’s Commission Fellowship. Malu’s doubts melted away in the process. She has learned to trust and rely heavily on the Lord for the family’s needs. “I believe God allows the conception of a special child for a special reason. He wants us to know that regardless of how difficult our situation is, He can give us the grace and provisions to meet their needs,” she shared in affirmation to what God has promised, through the Book of Matthew, when He commanded that we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, so all things can be given to us as well.

Malu assured “special parents” and their caregivers/guardians that when God gave us our special child, He knew that it will entail a lot of medical expenses and personal sacrifices. “The Bible has 2,350 verses relating to money, for the Lord knows that money matters. I believe God allows difficult financial circumstances for us parents with special children for three basic reasons: to accomplish His purpose for our lives and the lives of our special child; to develop and mold our character that we may become the parents we were meant to be; to discipline us and to build our faith,” she accentuated, adding specific goals such as being able to help other parents, learn to have compassion for others, put order in our priorities, learn to count our blessings, and draw us ever closer to our merciful God.

Further, Malu writes confidently, anchoring on Biblical perspective, that no special child is an accident; that each young life is entrusted to parents by a loving God who has special purposes for each one. She enriches the pages of her book with powerful stories shared by parents of other special children, as well as encouragement, practical help, and solid facts for parents and friends of special families.

The insightful talk capped with the assurance that it is only through our Savior Jesus Christ that we can have the “strength to carry on even when we feel things are not happening the way they should.”

Malu’s talk also serves as a call to continue upholding dignity, respect and inclusiveness of PWDs. The 253-page book is now available in Cebu. It has contact numbers of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. and other means to reach the author.(First published in The FREEMAN Lifestyle, 2014)