Teacher to tribal kids, Mindanao peace group win Aboitiz awards

The awards, named after the business family from Cebu, recognize individuals and institutions for bringing about positive change in their communities


CEBU CITY, Philippines – A teacher to tribal children and a foundation established by former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels are the newest recipients of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Incorporation (RAFI) Triennial Awards for their “philanthropic, humanitarian, and holistic efforts” for society.

The foundation announced the winners on Friday, August 14 – almost two decades since it first launched the awards in 1996.

Teacher to T’Boli children Anita Castillon won the Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual, while Kadtabanga Foundation for Peace and Development Advocates won the Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution in a ceremony held here.

Anita Castillon, 62, has been an educator to the Tboli children in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato for years. There, she established 3 indigenous peoples (IP) schools, where students can enroll at a minimal cost of P20 per month, provided that their parents maintain their own garden where they can plant root crops.

She helps the IP community through nutrition and livelihood training programs, so the community can keep sending the children to school. 

Meanwhile, Kadtabanga Foundation for Peace and Development Advocates is a 14-year old organization established by former MNLF rebels who surrendered their arms in 1996, when the group signed a final peace agreement with the Ramos administration.

The foundation serves 36 municipalities in Maguindanao, promoting peace-building and development-oriented activities with a vision to transform war-torn areas to Peace and Development Communities “characterized by progress and lasting peace.”

On its 6th run, RAFI has chosen as finalists 3 individuals and 5 institutions from the Visayas and Mindanao. The other finalists are:

Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual:

  • Carmelo Diola
  • Agusan Del Norte 1st District Representative Lawrence Fortun

Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution:

  • Western Samar Development Foundation 
  • Sibog Katawhan Alang sa Paglambo (SIKAP)
  • Cantaan Centennial Multi-Purpose Cooperative
  • Balay Mindanaw Foundation

Both Castillon and the Kadtabanga Foundation each received a trophy and P484,000. The other finalists received a trophy and P121,000 each. – Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler.com