Filipinos are known for their bayanihan spirit — coming together to achieve a goal. These three individuals have rallied their families, friends and strangers to help out people in need. Read on to find out how to contribute to their cause or be inspired to make a difference in your own community.
Muriel Vega Perez, SharetheLovePH
Professional makeup artist Muriel Vega Perez has been very busy the past few months. The group that he founded, SharetheLovePH, has been providing assistance to those in need — from frontliners to poor communities — as the pandemic stretches on.
As a trained nurse, Muriel knew how much of an impact Covid would have on our health care workers, so SharetheLovePH started raising funds to buy medical-grade personal protective equipment; to date, they have given these out to around 65 hospitals around the country. They have also distributed basic goods like rice and canned goods to nearly 6,000 families, donated 35 bikes to those in need and provided hygiene kits, drinking water and snacks to locally stranded individuals. “We also helped families from the recent fire in Mandaluyong and Quezon City. I believe this is too much — pandemic, fire and losing your source of living,” adds Muriel.
SharetheLovePH started when Muriel gathered friends together and encouraged them to do something more meaningful with their free time and extra money. Over the years, they’ve worked with various charitable institutions, participated in disaster relief and even went to Marawi to help those affected by the siege. All this is made possible by the kindness of family, friends, friends of friends, strangers and celebrity clients. Muriel has also leveraged his social media following and even sold some of his own belongings, all for SharetheLovePH.
“Our simple cause won’t grow without the support of good-hearted and God-guided people,” says Muriel. “As I always say, let us be human and we will know the right thing to do. Let us share even that little overflow from our cup because you will never know how much that little has actually a huge impact [on] someone in need.”
Novia David Zapata, Art Solace Manila
After her father was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, graphic designer/illustrator/muralist/art teacher Novia David Zapata decided to put up a Facebook page where she could sell some of her old artworks to earn extra money. She named it Art Solace Manila, “which means to find comfort in art in a time of great distress or sadness,” she explains.
The fundraiser was a success but sadly, her dad passed away within a few weeks. She later decided to use the remaining funds for their wardmates, who had become their friends when her dad was confined. Since then, Art Solace Manila has continued to aid cancer patients by helping them find blood donors and financial aid. They have also expanded their reach to include the marginalized sector, bringing awareness to the plight of the Aetas, farmers and fisherfolk, among others.
Novia raises funds by creating artwork for sale on the Art Solace Manila page. “But this process is not sustainable, so we started doing things like mural-for-a-cause, where a percentage of the professional fee goes to the funds of Art Solace Manila,” she says. They’ve also done workshops, joined bazaars and partnered with various organizations like Eco Humans Inc., Artcetero, Soulful Mornings and Cabalen Ultimate. Her friends Kevin Sampang, Tracy Hizon and Jenna Felix volunteer alongside her and help keep Art Solace Manila up and running.
“I’m still amazed [at] how this small-scale fundraising program grew in almost six years,” says Novia, who believes in the quote “no amount of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” She adds, “When helping, you only need your heart, because time, provision and grace to do the work will follow.”
Charles De Guzman, The Bond Paper Project
While the transition from a classroom setting to online distance learning is stressful for students and parents, it’s also a big challenge for teachers, especially those in the public-school sector. As a public-school teacher himself, Charles De Guzman understands the struggle.
“I saw a lot of posts on my social media accounts from my public-school friends, teacher friends, asking for help,” he says. “A lot of them were asking for…school supplies, particularly bond papers and ink printers or inks. So, I asked myself, ‘How can I help?’”
Charles decided to focus on getting donations for bond papers as they would be easier to procure than printers. “Most of the schools, particularly in the province, that do not have good internet connection will actually utilize learning modules. So [the teachers] have to print [these] out,” he explains.
He thus set out to gather donations for bond papers for the public elementary schools in his hometown of Angat, Bulacan. “My mother was a public-school teacher in Angat so I’m really attached to the place,” he says. Since launching the project on July 17th, Charles has been able to surpass his target of distributing 10 boxes of bond paper to each of the 14 public elementary schools in Angat. Given the overwhelming response, he was able to donate 32 boxes to the four local public high schools as well.
Charles is still open to more donations to help teachers in other schools in Bulacan. “The primary goal is to ease…somehow the burden because teachers should focus on preparing the lessons, making the lessons and at the same time focus on their professional development,” he says.