More soccer balls for Sulu

Rappler launches its 2000 Balls for Peace campaign page to gather more support for the children of Sulu

Carlos Santamaria
Published 6:03 PM, July 13, 2012
Updated 8:17 PM, July 13, 2012

MORE BALLS. Major Cabanlet, BGen Valdez and Manny Pangilinan (in the center) during the turnover ceremony on Friday, July 13.

MORE BALLS. Major Cabanlet, BGen Valdez and Manny Pangilinan (in the center) during the turnover ceremony on Friday, July 13.

MANILA, Philippines - After a cry for help, the truly generous follow through on their pledge to give what they can to those in need.

One Meralco Foundation and MVP Foundation on Friday, July 13, donated 500 balls to the Football for Peace program being carried out by the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) in the war-torn island of Sulu. The balls were pledged last week to Major Stephen Cabanlet who led the initiative in Sulu.

It coincided with Rappler's launching of its 2000 Balls for Peace campaign page on Friday.

Meralco Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan himself turned over the balls to Cabanlet and PMC Deputy Commandant BGen Remegio Valdez during a ceremony that also marked Pangilinan's 66th birthday.

"We would like for this program to be sustained in the long term, as our other programs like scholarships for the children of widows of fallen soldiers and medical missions," Pangilinan told Rappler at the event.

Campaign getting more popular

After Rappler broke the story about Cabanlet's program for the kids of Sulu, the PMC leadership pledged its full support for the initiative. While the Marines have the manpower and logistics, however, they have no funds to continue the project themselves.

"We should look for a credible partner in the areas where we are having this activity…to address the sustainment part of this campaign," Valdez said.

Valdez added that "the campaign is gaining headway, but it is still a new campaign" and that they have a long way to go.

"Our observation is that (the program) is getting popular and is getting the support of the local population. The kids that we are targeting in the areas, they really love sports. We introduced football and their acceptance is very high," Valdez said.

"We are giving more effort so that more children will be encouraged to join," he added. They hope to eventually encourage more kids to study as well. (Read: Football: Stepping stone to education)

More donations and pledges

The same day that they received the 500 balls from the One Meralco Foundation and the MVP Foundation, Cabanlet was also notified of the delivery of 98 used balls from the Younghusband Football Academy, which coordinated their donation with the office of Sen Pia Cayetano.

Cabanlet told Rappler he got the good news in the middle of a meeting with officials of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), the latest institution to signify interest in helping the children of Sulu.

PFF President Mariano Araneta pledged to hand over another 200 balls to the project, which could expand to other disadvantaged communities in Palawan, Sultan Kudarat and Tawi-Tawi if it attracts more supporters and donors.

On Thursday, July 12, members of the Rappler team delivered an initial set of 28 balls from donors, 18 of them collected by multimedia reporter Natashya Gutierrez, who started her own campaign on Facebook to get 25 balls for her 25th birthday.

Rappler has launched its "Balls for Peace" campaign, which hopes to collect 2,000 balls by the end of August. -

[Those interested in providing assistance to the program may contact PMC Special Services Officer Major Stephen L. Cabanlet at the Philippine Marine Corps Headquarters, Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. Call/text +63 906 564 2765 or email]