Philippines: a humanitarian journey full of emotions, meetings and new projects

Our President Margherita Maffeis-Natale, and Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Ticino, went again this year with her husband from 1st to 17th January 2020 to the Philippines; this year with a special mission, namely to consolidate our newly founded twin association Culture Ticino Network and Philippines Association, based in Paombong, and to start with our local committee the important project “Sustainable Development in Paombong”. Below is the story of her journey:

“I’m glad to tell you about my fourth humanitarian trip to the Philippines, which took place this January 2020. We left on December 31, 2019, celebrating with positive emotions, and in various places around the world, the end and beginning of the year. After a long journey of 24 hours, on January 1 my husband and me arrived at Manila airport, where we were warmly welcomed by Jennefer Espinosa (our local representative) and accompanied, with another 2.5 hours of travel, to our hotel located in the Bulacan Region. After a day of adaptation to the Jetlag and after recovering our strength we start our humanitarian mission.

On January 3rd we held the first meeting in the hotel with the committee members of the newly founded Culture Ticino Network and Philippines Association based in Paombong. The first topics discussed were the projects to be carried out for the most needy and the organization of our Spyri award ceremony that would be held the following 14th of January.
In the following days I held several meetings also aimed at establishing the legal basis on which to finish the accreditation of our new association.









On January 7th I met in the morning the parish priest of Paombong, the Rev.Fr. Anacleto C. Ignazio, and Francis Bartolome, vice chairman of the parish council, with whom we began to discuss various future projects to help those most in need in Paombong.






Subsequently I wanted to see the validity and progress of the educational project, launched by our Culture Ticino Network Association in Ticino in January 2019, at the “Central Elementary School” in Paombong, being able to see with pleasure the functionality and positive involvement of the students.

During our visit I delivered another new Laptop LABDOO, in addition to the other four provided during the last year; on all the 5 devices provided is installed an educational software able to help the training and learning of the students.
The project is having a lot of success and our Association wants to provide other educational laptops to the school in the future. A heartfelt thank you for the valuable collaboration also goes to the headmaster of the school Marquez T. Cartel and the teacher Ms Janet Principale.


On January 8th I met in Manila Ms. Susan “Toots” Ople, president of the Blase F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute Foundation in Manila, to which we will give our Spyri award. It was also a valuable opportunity to inform her about our humanitarian projects for the most needy in Paombong. On the same day, also in Manila, I held other meetings.

On January 10th I had the opportunity to meet the Swiss Ambassador, Alain Gaschen, in Manila. It was a very positive meeting with the desire to help the most needy in the Philippines.

On January 13th, the day began with an event with catastrophic consequences for all of us, but especially for the population of the towns near Manila: the eruption of the volcano Taal. This catastrophe has allowed us to understand even better how these people are living in constant danger, due to both poverty and possible natural disasters. The ashes of the volcano have reached a few kilometers from our hotel and saddened us all. However, I have noticed that despite everything, these people have not lost the solidarity and courage that distinguishes them. The Government immediately took action to inform and help the people who had to evacuate the affected area. Many local people and associations also met in the following days in community centres to cook and help those who had to leave their houses. Immediately afterwards, the Manila airport was also closed, putting our return back home at risk.








On January 14th the award ceremony for our Spyri Award was held in a room of our hotel. The Spyri Award is a recognition of the Culture Ticino Network Association that rewards a person who has distinguished himself for peace and solidarity. In 2019 it was awarded Ms. Susan Ople, who was unable to join us on November 16th 2019 to receive it in person during the ninth edition of our World Forum for Peace.
Ms. Ople received the Spyri Award for the help her foundation has provided and still provides to exploited and abused Filipino workers around the World.

On January 15th finally comes the news that our return flight has been confirmed.








On January 16th the constitutive meeting of the Culture Ticino Network and Philippines Association took place, where all the roles were defined and the will to create a multifunctional centre in which to carry out training activities was expressed. The evening took place with joy and a great desire to realize important projects for the most needy in Paombong and in the Bulacan Region. Among the first projects scheduled for 2020 are the distribution of 31 scholarships lasting 2 years to the most needy students; a medical mission (free visits and surgery for the most needy) in collaboration with the parish of Paombong and the St. Luke Medical Center Foundation; the creation of training programs for cooks (Tesda program) and the implementation of the “Sustainable Development” project in Paombong.


On January 17th we leave for Switzerland, leaving us always the nostalgia of this wonderful country and the people we met, but also with the certainty in our hearts that we now have a valid local committee that will work with our Association in Ticino to implement humanitarian projects for the most needy of the region, and to have strengthened the bridge between Ticino and the Philippines!

Mabuhay Culture Ticino Network and Philippines Association in Paombong and Culture Ticino Network in Switzerland. God bless us all!


You can stay informed about all the news of Culture Ticino Network and Philippines Association by following the dedicated Facebook page: