Kasibulan Program of Ayala Group: A Successful Beginning
2016 was milestone year for the Sustainability Group of Ayala Corporation. Having successfully launched the group-wide program, Kasibulan, in June 2016, this was followed by three batches of volunteers from September to December of the same year, gathering a total of 58 individuals from different companies across the conglomerate.
The program currently aims to reforest and protect 13,000 hectares of land across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. This is the group’s contribution to the national re-greening project and climate change mitigation. This endeavor is also aimed to drive a change in the mindset of the Ayala Group employees towards sustainable living, and to have opportunities that will bring them together for teamwork. The program is seen also an avenue for communities to engage in green livelihood and ecopreneurship.
After looking at different possibilities to start the program, Kasibulan volunteers were brought up north the Philippines in Pagudpud to contribute in the reforestation program of North Luzon Renewables (NLR). Being a subsidiary under AC Energy, the venue was a perfect start for the program as the organizers aimed to look into the reforestation system that was put in place by the NLR team, and to explore the possibility of replicating it across the country.
With the goal of making this program different, the organizers resolved to go beyond simple tree planting but instead, the participants must go through a series of meaningful activities to help them understand the goals better. Each of the volunteers went through proper orientation to learn about the correct process of planting to ensure a higher survival rate for the seedlings. To further enhance the experience for the volunteers, they were also given the opportunity to visit and converse with the communities who benefitted from the NLR reforestation project. Such communities around the NLR area are those who gained additional livelihood by being the suppliers for seedlings grown only in their backyard. This enhanced their experience and gave them the window to see the deeper meaning of the program.
Of no small feat, the volunteers had to plant from the very beginning of the process where they, together with their respective partners form the local communities, prepared the hole for each seedling and finished it all the way until mulching – while the micro-climate challenged them with rain showers and strong winds. Despite the demanding conditions, the volunteers continued on, with each one determined to contribute as much as they can for the success of the program. The dynamic volunteers from the different companies were able to plant a full 1,534 seedlings composed of different species.
The activities proved to be of great value given the feedback of the participants. One of which is from Ronald Caringal of IMI who said: “It was an amazing experience for me. It was not my first time to do tree-planting but this is the first time that I really appreciated it. It’s really good to see that there’s a lot of people who still cares for the environment and prove that there can be progress without sacrificing and doing much damage to our mother Earth.”
Described as a “superb experience” by Christopher Dela Cruz, another volunteer from IMI, he further said that the program is “sulit ang kalyo sa kamay. Because I know I have done something good and helped the environment.”
Another volunteer from BPI, Teng Balleza, reflected that one off the best things that happened to her this 2016 was joining the Kasibulan program. She said, “I never expected that I’d learn to appreciate mother nature a lot in that short trip. The experience made me more aware about taking care of the environment and I vow to continue reducing my carbon footprint.” Seconded by Jenn Magtoto of Generika, she said, “It was a blast and a perfect activity to end my 2016, if I will still be allowed to go back, I will really go back!”
The program is all the more marked as a success because aside from the appreciation to the environment, employees from different Ayala companies were able to forge meaningful bonds through the activities. As expressed by Cris Guitering of Globe, “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be part in the Kasibulan activity and to meet other Ayala group of volunteers.” Same with Tet Santos of IMI who said, “Indeed, it was a good time to develop more camaraderie with our fellow Ayala employees.”
This 2017, Kasibulan is envisioned to go bigger and farther. AC is looking into various opportunities and partnerships that will further pave the way for the achievement of the program’s goals. Truly, being a conglomerate goes beyond creating economic value and, as is always the dream of Ayala, this program will be a legacy benefitting the country and the generations to come.