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Davao Light wins ASEAN Award for fostering economic stability for the differently-abled

Songs of gratitude. 18 SAKADAB members rendered songs during the turnover ceremony of their new production facility at the Gawad Kalinga community in Tugbok, Davao City. The cooperative members are also skilled in handicraft making, baking, and sewing.

IN A GAWAD Kalinga community in Los Amigos, Tugbok District, Davao City, a group of differently-abled individuals are reaping the economic benefits of their livelihood projects assisted by the power firm Davao Light and Power Company.

Marisol Labasano, president of the Samahan ng may iba’t-ibang Kakayahan sa Dabaw (SAKADAB), said the livelihood assistance they received in the form of equipment and supplies for their bakery business and their dressmaking and sewing services, helped pull them out of poverty.

Labasano said the 19-member organization, credits Davao Light for their improved financial status since the company helped them move to the area in 2012.

“A big change in our lives happened when we were provided with livelihood training and given bakery equipment that enabled us to start our pastry and bread business. Just recently, we received sewing machines that will be part of our handicrafts business,” Labasano said.

They have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but the group is optimistic of better days ahead as the local economy recovers and markets for their products open. What is important, Labasano said is that “we have work everyday and we continue to profit from the bakery and handicraft which we sell to the city.”

Davao Light, along with the Aboitiz Group’s social development arm Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Aboitiz Foundation), has been supporting SAKADAB since 2012, starting when Aboitiz employees with other groups and organizations helped build their houses in the Gawad Kalinga community.


Davao Light’s critical assistance to SAKADAB earned for itself the Philippine private sector award in the 6th ASEAN Rural Development and Poverty Eradication Leadership Awards (RDPELA) for the corporate social responsibility programs it conducted with various partners to help enhance the living standards and the quality of life of people within its service area.

Accomplished champions of corporate social responsibility. (L-R) Singapore Minister for Social & Family Development and AMRDPE Chair Masagos Zulkifli (1st) and ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn (4th) hand the ASEAN RDPELA recognition to Davao Light, represented by Reputation Enhancement Department Head Fermin Edillon (2nd) and Community Relations Specialist Sherilyn Puno-Lariosa (3rd).

The RDPELA is a regular biennial activity of the Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication intended to recognize, encourage, and promote community development and anti-poverty initiatives in the ASEAN member states.

The RDPELA recognized Davao Light’s efforts in helping local cooperatives and associations like Samahan ng may iba’t-ibang Kakayahan sa Dabaw (SAKADAB), as well as establishing technical vocational facilities for the Philippine Department of Education via Project e.Lab.

“We believe that enabling dignified, sustainable livelihoods and providing education and upskilling opportunities open up more doors for our kababayans to get out of poverty,” said Davao Light President and COO Rodger S. Velasco. “Since the Davao region’s poverty incidence is still quite high at 11.9% in 2021, we hope to do our own fair share in getting that number down through our corporate social responsibility initiatives with our partners.”

Since then, they have been recipients of livelihood materials, equipment, and training meant to build the capability of its differently-abled members and ensure the sustainability of the cooperative.

Help was most critical during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when the members of the consumer cooperative bore the brunt of putting food on the table for their respective families amidst great economic uncertainty. Davao Light and Aboitiz Foundation provided support to SAKADAB’s bakeshop business via the donation of baking materials.

The distribution utility also took the initiative to upskill SAKADAB members in dressmaking to add to the cooperative’s income-generating projects. As a result, several members received their national certification or NC II in dressmaking from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) after having passed a National Competency Assessment. This deems them ready for work or employment in that endeavor. 

SAKADAB also received a sewing business package worth P300,000, which included four sewing machines, as well as other tools, materials, and supplies. 

Most recently, the group was gifted with a fully renovated production facility at the Gawad Kalinga community in Tugbok, Davao City, complete with better lighting, a ventilation system, and additional office equipment for product marketing. The facility will serve as the cooperative’s work and production area for its handicrafts and sewing businesses.

“We are very grateful and we appreciate all the things that you have done just to make our lives comfortable and [our livelihoods] sustainable… using our talents and skills so that in the future, we can stand on our own,” said SAKADAB President Marisol Labasano.


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