Posts filed under ‘Philippines’

The Filipino Sense of Community

Keith Baillie | KF19 | Philippines

Part I: Construction of a New Community

Following the Sendong typhoon, many Cagayan de Oro residents were displaced. I visited one of the resettlement villages, Xavier Ecoville.  Flood victims are still currently living in temporary wooden accommodation built by agencies like Habitat for Humanity.

Temporary housing:


But new permanent housing is being constructed, with the philosophy “We are not just building houses, we are building a community”.

Permanent housing:


Among the first facilities constructed are a church and a community hall. There are also a health and family planning center, day care and preschool facilities, and covered basketball and volleyball court. Housing is in low-rise terraces, enabling neighbors to mingle in the street.

Playground and Church:

Children’s Study Center:

Part II: Factors Driving Community Spirit

If I mention that I am visiting or eating somewhere, they always ask “Who’s with you, sir?” I ask myself “What are the factors that drive the strong Filipino sense of community?”  Here are some factors that occur to me:

  1. Strong family bonds. Filipinos typically have large families.  Working children are responsible for helping support parents and younger siblings (including their education). Children will frequently work abroad to accomplish this. Such family obligations imprint a model for shared responsibility in the broader community.
    Note: However, nowadays many Filipino couples separate and many children are born outside of marriage. Nevertheless, parents or grandparents always take care of the children if the mother cannot.
  2. Living accommodation. Single Filipinos typically live with their family until they marry and establish their own family home. Young Filipinos studying or working away from home typically live with colleagues in boarding houses, which provides a community atmosphere in place of the family home. Few Filipinos live completely alone, even when elderly.
  3. Shared religion.  (I have worked in Christian areas but suspect the same holds true in Muslim and indigenous areas.) Almost all Filipinos I have met have a strong, active Christian faith. Although most are Catholic, other denominations are integrated in non-sectarian events, like religious festivals/fiestas and office devotionals. One of the first questions Filipinos ask me is “What is your religion?”
  4. Avoidance of conflict. Filipinos rarely get angry or raise their voices. If I say something critical, a Filipino will ask “Are you mad at me, Sir?” leading me to soften my response. I do not see angry rows or fights even in drinking establishments. When I berated a young girl for pushing in front of me in a grocery line, she just remained silent. And when my motorcycle taxi nearly collided with a motorcyclist who had pulled in front of him, there were no expletives. They both just smiled and chuckled.
  5. Community service. I met a large group of students who were studying a college course in cleaning neighborhoods and planting mangroves. When they graduate, they will be unpaid volunteers. In the cooperatives I have visited, serving the community (especially the poor) is always stressed in the devotionals and board members provide their time for free.
  6. Performances and shows. Church, school, college and office events bring people together to practice for dance performances, beauty contests, sports contests, etc.
  7. Fiestas. Each municipality has an annual fiesta when community members who live away return home. There are family reunions, school reunions, church services, public entertainments, and the roaming meals where people visit a succession of homes to eat.
  8. Texting. Throughout the day, Filipinos text small talk like “Good morning!” and “Have you had your breakfast?” This is an extension of normal social interaction.
  9. Maintenance of local bonds while away. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) maintain social connections with others from their city or region – for example maids in Hong Kong or workers in the Middle East congregate on particular streets or intersections designated for their home location.

Whatever the reasons, there is no doubt that Filipinos have a strong sense of community – both with other Filipinos and (happily) in welcoming visitors from other cultures.

Afterthought: This may explain why Filipinos so readily ask foreigners for money. When they see financial inequality, it seems only right to share it. However, they don’t seem to resent the rich-poor divide within their own country enough to change it.

22 February 2013 at 17:38

Kiva One: Faces that Impacted the Lives of Kiva Fellows

By Kiva Fellows | KF19 | All Over the World

With January 2013 coming to an end, KF19 fellows are either continuing on with KF20 or returning home to various responsibilities and careers. Regardless of the next adventure or destination, one thing is common among all: KF19 fellows have been permanently changed by their placements.

What began as a joint blog post about any person, place, or event during the course of the fellowship that affected our lives, of itself turned into simply the one person who left the most impact. Afterall, Kiva’s mission is to alleviate poverty through connecting people. The fellows of KF19 have witnessed this connection over the course of the last three to four months, and nothing could have prepared us for meeting the people who would touch our lives in various ways.

KF19 presents to you Kiva One, a small collection of stories about human connections, hope, and inspiration.


31 January 2013 at 08:00

Twelve Days of Christmas from Kiva Fellows

By Kiva Fellows | KF19 | All Over the World

A Happy Holidays to the Kiva family everywhere!  May your celebrations be filled with foods and flavor, smiling faces, natural beauty, light and memories… here are some gifts from around the world courtesy of the Kiva Fellows 19th class:

On the Twelve Days of Christmas my Kiva Fellow gave to me…

Day 1: A Turtle Heading Out to Sea!
Marion Walls | Tujijenge and Barefoot Power | Tanzania

Watching Green Turtles hatch on a beach near Mafia Island in Tanzania was magical, and heartbreaking, because they looked so vulnerable. They’re tiny little things – no bigger than the palm of my hand – so the 15m of beach is an epic journey but they scramble forward determinedly despite the obstacles.  I was thrilled to see this little guy heading out into the world!

Day 2: Two Washington War Memorials
Christina Reif | Kiva Zip (Washington D.C.) | United States


The Korean War Memorial (left): Nestled between juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea, 7ft tall statues of soldiers – wary of a suspected ambush – give the visitor a haunting feel of the a soldier’s reality.

The Vietnam Memorial (right): As I stood taking the picture I overheard the veteran say: there were 18 of us and only 9 came back. It was said matter of factly, a story told many times before, a piece of history that never loses its emotional impact.

Day 3: Three Colorado Microbrews
Rachel Davis | Kiva Zip (Denver) | United States


Here are three beers from three Colorado breweries, enjoy!

Day 4: Four Kuki Carolers
Eileen Flannigan | WSDS-Initiate | India

What are these Kuki’s most excited about this holiday?  “The caroling bus!”  This tradition only happens every two years because of the cost of renting the buses, which each family in the village (200+) contributes to all year.  On Christmas Eve the buses tour all the neighboring villages as a symbol of peace, unity and good old fashion fun!  At midnight, the elders go home and the youths visit each house in the village to “offer them a song”, which include tribal songs, classic Christmas songs and even Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe”.

When I asked them what they would like to say to Kiva lenders around the world, they joyfully said they wanted to “offer a song of thanksgiving”.   Through giggles and jolly spirits, these Kiva borrowers sing “Joy to the World”, dressed in their holiday best, which is all weaved from their own hands.   They graciously wrap me in these special threads and awake my heart with the “Christmas spirit”.

Day 5: Five Gorgeous Costa Rican Birds
Jane Imai | EDESA and FUNDECOCA | Costa Rica


What speaks of Costa Rica more than a bunch of beautiful, tropical birds? Costa Rica boasts a huge biodiversity when it comes to wildlife, including almost 900 species of birds. Here are some of ones I was able to see while I was here:

  • Blue macaw (wild, La Fortuna)
  • Scarlet macaws (wild, en route to Monteverde)
  • Violet sabrewing (wildlife refuge, La Paz Waterfall Gardens)
  • Yellow-naped parrots (free roaming pets known as Lola and Paco, San Jose)
  • Keel-billed toucan (wildlife refuge, La Paz Waterfall Gardens)

Day 6: Six Delicious Dishes from Kyrgyzstan
Abhishesh Adhikari | Bai Tushum & Partners | Kyrgyzstan


  1. Lagman: Noodle dish with beef and pepper
  2. Mante: Dumplings filled with ground beef and onions
  3. Turkish Kebab
  4. Russian style roast duck with apples
  5. Plov: Fried rice mixed with meat and carrots
  6. Traditional Kyrgyz soup with meat and potatoes

Day 7: Seven Candles for Día de las Velitas
Rose Larsen | Fundación Mario Santo Domingo (FMSD) | Colombia


Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles) is a holiday in Colombia honoring the Immaculate Conception.  Every year, on the 8th of December, at 3AM, Colombians light candles and put them in colorful lanterns outside their homes. This day is also the (unofficial) launch of the Christmas season.


Day 8: Eight Filipino Christmas Lights and Festive Faces
Keith Baillie | Roaming Mindanao | Philippines


Christmas preparations start early in the Philippines. Since November, carols are played on the radio and offices and homes have put up Christmas decorations. Groups of children roam around singing carols, hoping for a handout. Here are some pics of Dipolog’s tree lighting festival – with monsters for kids, sculpted and living angels, fireworks and popular bands.

Maayong Pasco! (Bisayan for Merry Christmas!)

Day 9: Nine Jordanian Herbs
Taline Khansa | Tamweelcom | Jordan


One of the most exciting and lively areas in Jordan is the downtown Amman “Balad” region. The streets are filled with a multitude of elements that stimulate the senses from perfumeries making custom concoctions to falafel hole-in-the-wall restaurants. My favorite places are the small shops selling bulk herbs and spices (for super cheap!), some of which I recognize and others I’ve never heard of. The merchants will often allow you to smell or taste the products and may offer some advice on use and preparation techniques.

The nine bulk herbs in this picture are: Two kinds of sage, Melissa, Rosemary, Artemisia, Rose, Guava Leaves, Marjoram, and Hibiscus… Happy Holidays from the Middle East!

Day 10: Ten Bags-a-Brimming With Honduran Coffee
Wesley Schrock | Roaming Fellow | Honduras


Kiva borrower Miguel, a coffee farmer from Trojes in Honduras, stands in front of a wet processing station.  In the lower left-hand corner note his ten bags of pulped, fermented, and dried coffee beans ready for roasting.

Day 11: Eleven Indian Ingredients and Spices
Irene Fung | People’s Forum and Mahashakti Foundation | India


Having spent close to three months in India, I must say I have not had one bad meal.  The food is always flavorful and delicious.  While working at Mahashakti, I have been fortunate to have lunch with the staff every day, prepared by the office caretaker, Radha Kanta, or just Rahda for short.  Since many of the staff travel from branch to branch at a regular basis, they stay at the office overnight.  Radha prepares meals for the traveling staff and me.

One day I learned to make a traditional Odisha dish – Simba Rai – from the following ingredients (pictured from left to right): Garlic, Turmeric, Radha in action, Ginger, Masala paste and powder, Green Chili, Potatoes, Green beans (Simba), Chili powder, Mustard seeds, Tomatoes, Shallots, and we’re ready to eat!

Day 12: Twelve Bright African Futures
Holly Sarkissian | Alidé in Benin and WAGES in Togo


The smiling faces of twelve bright futures for the children of Kiva borrowers in Togo and Benin!




20 December 2012 at 08:00

Lost in Translation

Compiled by Philip Issa | KF17 | Palestine

We’ve all had these moments: Trying to impress a native speaker with our ability to speak their language, we compose an elegant sentence in our minds, open our mouths, and… proceed to swallow our feet whole. Indeed, we Kiva Fellows have had no shortage of these moments – we’ve twisted and tortured whole phrases so that they come out no better suited than to embarrass and offend.

So here are a few stories of us Fellows shattering our carefully constructed, professional identities with a spectacular “whoops!”

Continue Reading 16 May 2012 at 09:00 5 comments

Sweet Deliciousness

Compiled by Michael Slattery | KF17 | Togo

Despite the often upbeat tone of fellows’ posting on the blog, I’ll be the first to admit that the position entails some universal hardships.  There is the occasional social isolation that leaves you Saturday night at home with a book and bottle of the local plonk, despite apparently leading a life of swinging exoticism and sun-drenched adventure.  There’s is a lot of driving around, waiting, driving some more, and then getting told some tall tales by people who look at you like you’re definitely one of those foreign imbeciles that regularly swallows half-truths and thoroughly enjoys the taste.

Kiva Fellow Carrie Nguyen, Peru, delivers on delicious: ceviche made of jungle fish, marinated in lime juice and sliced onions, served with yucca and chifles (banana chips). Cost, around ten soles, or USD $3.50

I’ve also come home and spent a good hour picking black soot out of my ears and my nose, then showered and found the water around my feet an unhealthy, industrial smelling, swirl of charcoal.  (I also associate the smell of burning plastic with Africa, most often first thing in the morning, as dutiful sweepers light fire to the last day’s fallen leaves and dropped plastic bags.)

Not to be outdone, Kiva Fellow Jen Truong, Cambodia, sticks up for the homeland with some fresh crab stir-fried with Kampot peppers straight from the garden, for three happy diners (or one author). Price USD $ 7.50

Fortunately, there’s food.  Blessed food.  Balm to the solitary and bruised soul; and even if the full stomach isn’t spiritual salvation, it is a way to warm the heart, as many a romanticized grandmother may have advised uncomprehending grand-daughters.  Kiva Fellow Chris Paci has pointed out that I can eat a lot of food in a given day, which is more or less true, so I thought to spread the love and identify who among my colleagues are the true foodies.

Straight from the Bosphorous to your chest–err, hips–Kiva Fellow Kim Strathearn, Turkey, gives us Sekerpare, semolina sponge cakes soaked in syrup and hazelnut, presented with chopped pistachios and a sprig of mint. The author says, send him to Turkey, Kiva, and let him rot his teeth.

Kiva Fellow Jamie Greenthal, the Philippines, says, take that land lubbers: fresh sea scallops shucked and served raw on the half-shell, pulled from the Philippine sea, on Calituban Island. Price, free. Because Jamie is a pirate. Arrrgh! And takes what he wants! (Actually, the scallops were a welcome gift from borrowers in recognition of his arrival, but hey, who said stories had to be true? Estimated price in a restaurant, USD $5 to 7).

Kiva Fellow David Gorgani, the Dominican Republic, shows us how island living really works. Please support his application for Survivor: Paul Bocuse’s Kitchen.

End result of the Young Man and the Sea: fresh fried fish with tostones (fried plantains). Price USD $8-10 depending on the size of the fish.

Intermezzo: time for a cold one to wash down the previous delicious meals. Kiva Fellow Jen Truong, Cambodia, refreshes us with sugar cane and orange juice. Price USD $0.50.

Kiva Fellow Devon Fisher, Kenya, brings us some coastal Swahili delight from Mombasa: fresh fried fish. Say it all together: samaki hii ni utamu sana! (Kiswahili for this fish is delicious!) Price, delicious.

Kiva Fellow Micaela Browning, Mozambique, keeps the fish theme alive with xima (a paste made with casava flour) and little delicious fishes. Price, delicious. (Micaela, by the bye, pays her student fees by hand modeling).

Kiva Fellow Jen Truong, Cambodia, does the delicious hat trick and three-peat all at once: fried fish, fried chicken served in unusual but delicious fashion, and stir-fried morning glory with a side mango salad. Price, USD $10 for all three.

Kiva Fellow Adria Orr, Samoa, destroys the seafood delicious fest with the ultimate in deliciousness: the roast suckling pig…for the office lunch “feast” to welcome new loan officers into the fold. Price, pirate discount. Island love is high.

Kiva Fellow Ryan Cummings, Liberia, gets us back to rice country with his typical lunch at the office: served with a piece of chicken and eggplant. Simple yet elegant delicious. And not a roast suckling pig.

Kiva Fellow Philip Issa, Palestine, paves the way to increased rice delicious sophistication: Eggplant Msaq’a (مسقعة باذنجان), which is eggplant and beef in a tomato sauce, garnished with pine nuts. Not featured is the accompanying yogurt.

Getting in his ten cents of deliciousness, the author shows today`s lunch: a hither never seen before dry fufu desi (sauce) made of fried fish and some kind of vegetable. Price 800 FCFA or USD $1.60.  Savour the deliciousness in life.

As ever, my thanks and recognition to the other fellows.

Michael Slattery (KF17) is serving as a Kiva Fellow with WAGES in Lomé, Togo. He’s pretty sure that one day he will have a coronary bypass and a large stock holding in an antacid producer.   Find a borrower in Togo and lend today!

4 May 2012 at 12:08 2 comments

Update From The Field: Client Visits In Bethlehem, A New Partnership In Cameroon + A Peek Into A Loan Officer’s World

Compiled by Allison Moomey | KF16 & KF17 | Bénin 

KF17 fellows have now made their way into the field, which means new workplaces, new countries, and new cultures for us all. Even more importantly it means fascinating new blog posts from every corner of the globe for you. Check out this week’s posts and join fellows as they observe microfinance in action Palestine, share about a great new partner in Cameroon, visit a village bank in Peru, and adjust to life in Togo. Then continue reading to learn about a cricket-raising business in Indonesia, microsavings in Mozambique, Senegalese politics, an apartment search in Mongolia, and a loan officer training in the Philippines.

Continue Reading 27 February 2012 at 02:56 5 comments

And the Winner Is…………

By Jill Hall, KF16, Philippines

“And the winner is……..ppprrrrrmmmmmmm” (drum roll). Now, if you are anything like me, the image in your head is of some famous actress or actor fumbling with a large envelope, complaining about how is it hard to open. Luckily, for this post, we are going skip the envelope and talk about a winner who is a little closer to home for this Kiva Fellow. The winner I am talking about is CCT’s very own, Andresa Javines, who is Citi Bank’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” (MOTY) for Mindanao, Philippines.

Continue Reading 14 December 2011 at 07:00 3 comments

Update from the Field: Adapting for Borrowers by Borrowers, Microinsurance +SKFL

Compiled by Jim Burke, KF16, Nicaragua

A Warm Welcome! Manana offers the best from her garden. By DJ Forza, Georgia

This week’s Fellows Blog focuses on adaptability: Adapting microinsurance to poor households in Indonesia, an MFI in Turkey adapts to the needs of women entrepreneurs, a multifaceted borrower in Nepal adapts to market pressures, and a Kiva Fellow adapts to changing expectations. In a continuation of The Stuff Kiva Fellows Like series we hear how different fellows have adapted to their lives abroad by ‘crashing parties’ and ‘going to the Bazaar’. We hear about how practitioners are adapting finance and microinsurance products to their borrowers. Equally nimble we hear from a few borrowers and how they have expertly adapted to market pressures and changing circumstance. Microfinance is a dynamic industry by nature and like DJ or Binu or Maya Enterprise for Micro Finance, ensuring success means staying flexible and welcoming new opportunities born out of challenges. (more…)

28 November 2011 at 01:01 5 comments

Stuff Kiva Fellows Like #10-17

Compiled by Jim Burke, KF16, Nicaragua

We are Kiva Fellows. This is the stuff we like. Here is an insider (often critical, or satirical but always true!) view of what it means to be a Kiva Fellow and promote access to financial services around the world. From party crashing to bazaars to street food, these are the things we like and thrive on. Check out Stuff Kiva Fellows Like (SKFL) #1-9!

#10 Street Food

Mariela Cedeño, KF16, Cochabamba, Bolivia

I’m not really sure why, but there is something inherently appealing to a Kiva Fellow’s being about food that is prepared, cooked, and sold on the streets. Perhaps it’s the dubiously hygienic food preparation, the alternative cooking apparatus used to bring food to fire, or it’s ready availability and our relative laziness…wait, no, it’s actually our need to literally ‘taste’ the local culture. In our fits of street food deliriousness we are open and ready to taste all that our surroundings have to offer, however, we often find that the local fare may not quietly find a home in our stomachs. Thankfully, before leaving to our local assignments, our travel nurses reminded us that in times of intestinal woe, Cipro and other like antibiotics will be our best friend. They sometimes are, but because we are well versed in the dangers of overusing antibiotics and are haunted by nightmares of creating giant super bacteria that start kidnapping local women and children, we use them sparingly and wisely. (more…)

25 November 2011 at 16:00 6 comments

Update from the Field: New Products in Microfinance, Over-Indebtedness + Transparency

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

This week on the Kiva fellows blog, start out by learning about three new microfinance products – microinsurance in Indonesia, higher education loans in the Philippines and green and water loans in Kenya. Continue on to Nepal to admire the handiwork of artisan borrowers. Make your way to Ecuador to find out more about the risk of indebtedness. Share the fellows’ personal experiences with the recent elections in Nicaragua and rush hour traffic in Uganda. Finish by taking a critical look at transparency in microfinance and Kiva’s responsibility with regards to transparency.

Continue Reading 15 November 2011 at 06:44 3 comments

Study Now, Pay Now: Funding Higher Education in the Philippines

by: Jill Hall, KF16, Philippines

The higher education loan was an exciting idea because it had the potential to provide access to financial backing to those who wanted to pursue further education but were often limited by the lack of availability of funding in their country. The higher education loans hold much potential but it also introduces a whole other set of potentially troubling issues.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Maricar Santiago, CCT with the Visions of Hope division, to discuss the the details of the “Study Now, Pay Now” education loan product.

Continue Reading 12 November 2011 at 18:08 5 comments

Update from the Field: Expanding the Reach of Microfinance, Downsizing Development + Why We Kiva

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

This week, you have no fewer than 14 new articles to choose from on the Kiva fellows blog: Let the fellows take you along on borrower visits across the world. Learn how Kiva field partners expand the reach of microfinance in Rwanda, fill the microfinance donut hole in Sierra Leone and improve social performance in Uganda. Find out what poverty is like in urban Tajikistan and rural Burkina Faso. Get inspired by one of the creative ways to bring renewable energy to the developing world in the form of a soccer ball. And finally, watch a video of “Why We Kiva” to get a glimpse of why Kiva fellows jump at the opportunity to be thrown half way around the world to work with Kiva’s many local field partners.

Continue Reading 31 October 2011 at 02:49 5 comments

Girlie’s Peanut Butter: Borrower Verification in the Philippines

By: Jill Hall, Manila,Philippines

As I stepped out in the oppressive humidity of a Manila morning, my spirit was excited and ready to leave the protection of CCT head office’s wonderful air conditioning because this was the day I got to do another borrower verification.This day’s journey is particularly exciting because the reward at the end of the two-hour bus side in Metro Manila traffic, is Caloocan City, a place where nature begins to meet houses and instead of high rises and smog you plunge in to lush green hills and palm trees. It is there that I will find the lady that makes peanut butter.

Continue Reading 23 October 2011 at 21:54 6 comments

Work is cancelled: Typhoon Day

“To Luzon (Head office, NCR, C.Luzon, Rizal, Laguna-Cavite, Batangas) staff: Due to heavy rains and strong winds brought by Storm Pedring, management advised to stay at home. Work is suspended today. Kindly monitor our communities if help is needed. Ingat mga kapatid. God’s protection be upon us all!”

The view from my window. Manila Bay is typically completely stagnant water which is why the waves crashing over the break wall were alarming.

This was the text message I received at 6:24 am on Tuesday, September27th, 2011. I had already been up about an hour due to the sleepy realization that my room was distinctly more humid than my wonderful air conditioner allows for during my hours of sleep.  Puzzled, I got out of bed to turn on my lights and identify the problem but the lights did not turn on. This information, in combination with a few other factors, helped me put the pieces of the puzzle together.  There was heavy rain as I fell asleep, there were screaming winds outside my window and small puddles on the floor of my apartment.  Monday’s rumors were true, Typhoon Pedring (international name Nesat) had come to visit Manila and the island of Luzon.

I had already seen what a few hours of rain in Manila could do to the streets and traffic here, so needless to say I was relieved when I got the text message cancelling work. Just the day before, a colleague had been telling me how his normal two hour commute (due to traffic and not physical distance) had become four hours due a minor rain shower, Monday morning. Knowing this, I could only imagine what havoc a typhoon could bring to the arteries and veins that feed into the heart of Manila and it’s surrounding areas.

So what does one do with a “Typhoon Day” from work? Having had snow days growing up with cold and snowy winters in Wisconsin (USA), I reviewed the activities I did then. Sledding? No, there were floods outside. Drink hot chocolate? No, I had no heat or power. Watch movies or work on Kiva tasks? No, my computer was dead and the Internet lab has no power.  Obviously, I was new at this typhoon thing and the day unfolded  with the following activities: sleeping, sopping up flooding in my 34th story apartment, releasing the foot of water on my balcony over the edge, walking the 34 flights of stairs twice to retrieve non-refrigerated food from the candlelit 7 11, and reading an entire 100 page book.  At one point I did leave the building to attempt an escape to Starbucks two blocks away but quickly realized that between the thigh high flooding and massive winds, that  a.Starbucks was probably closed, like all other establishments for blocks and b. this escape plan had some major flaws like the road being covered in water up to my hips.

The shallow end of the flooding on my street

The exciting conclusion to my story with the typhoon happened late on Tuesday night. Not only had the strong winds and rain subsided, but the power came back on. I had also managed to drain most of the water out of my apartment and I was reconnected to the world via the Internet.  The only problem is that with all natural disasters, the story does not end there for a large portion of the people of Luzon. I came to the office on Wednesday to discover much of the city was still without power, much of the large street dwelling population here had been displaced to aid centers and that 400 of CCT’s borrowers had suffered great damage or loss to their homes and businesses. (For more information on the typhoon, you can check out this article from BBC News.)

So with this, or any natural disaster, what is the role of microfinance or our local NGO’s or MFI’s?  My first hand experience that I can share with you is through the benefits that I have seen through my placement at CCT.  Microfinance institutions have a unique relationship as they have access to borrowers in low income and remote areas. As the Philippines is a highly developed microfinance market, many of the MFI’s have begun to offer comprehensive services to their borrowers that can include aid and relief during natural disasters.  Also CCT’s portfolio includes borrowers with small businesses and agricultural business, which could be severely affected by the typhoon if their inventory was washed away, or crops destroyed. Already, two days later, I just received a report on the status of CCT’s partners and the ways in which those affected received aid.  CCT staff was ready and on call to assist their region of borrowers.  The following quote was from a 2010 report given by CCT President, Ruth Callanta about their response and plan for other disasters.

D. Responding to Disasters.During Typhoon Ondoy, CCT set in motion a disaster response effort that included relief, medical missions, and rehabilitation of the shelter and businesses of affected community partners and staff. This response, begun within 24 hours of the flood’s arrival, was possible because of a ready infrastructure of staff and volunteers at the community, barangay, municipal, provincial, regional, andnational levels.”

The small business owners in the area that I like have appeared to bounce back fairly quickly as the small pedi-cab (bicycle cabs) are transporting people through puddles and the street food cellars were out as soon as the flooding had diminished.  Others, though, will need to take more time to recover as homes and business were lost. Luckily CCT is there to help them identify their losses and get reconnected to the services to help them recover.

Pedi-cab driver offering his services during the typhoon. The street was so flooded he had to walk the cab through the flooding.

This week Kiva started sharing the stories of lenders worldwide who talk about “Why I Kiva”. As I have listened to the stories of Kiva borrowers in the field and now heard from numerous Kiva lenders about why they are involved with Kiva. I have also been reflecting on the same question and in light of the events of this week, I just realized how much I like being a part of the movement to level the playing field. When a tornado, snowstorm, or flood hits us in the developed world, we do not worry if our money is safe in our savings or if our bank will provide us access to the capital to work on restoring our business or livelihoods.  We also assume that we have the right to services that will come for us, if the community is destroyed and we are not safe.  It is inspiring to be on the ground working with an organization that is providing capital and resources to the local microfinance institutions who have relationships established with these borrowers as well as the access to assist them through these uncontrollable disasters. Join us in this movement and share with us why you Kiva?.

Jill Hall is part of Kiva Fellows 16th class, working with Center for Community Transformation (CCT) in the Philippines.  Please support CCT borrowers by reading about their stories and making a loan today. Be a part of the movement of Kiva and join CCT’s lending team.

2 October 2011 at 07:43 6 comments

Updates from the Field: Roads, Remittances + the “Little Paris” of Togo

Last week our internationally-scattered Kiva Fellows introduced us to some of the men and women that compose the sixty countries in which Kiva works. From the woman in Cameroon who represents the strength of her nation; to the Phillipino men that must migrate from their country to make a living; to the young men and women of Uganda who show us a glimpse of raw entrepreneurialism and hope. We also see how a nation’s people are brought together, whether by a common and incredible credit culture in Nicaragua, or by the dream for Togolese roads to one day connect people, markets, and credit throughout the country. From roads to remittances, Fellows learn there is more to microfinance than world markets and interest rates, and that human factors are tipping the scales of success for microfinance in all corners of the world.

Continue Reading 27 June 2011 at 02:00 7 comments

Long Distance Relationships: Remittances in the Philippines

By Allie Cook, KF15, Philippines

There are currently an estimated 10 million Filipinos currently working abroad, about one-tenth of the population. They are called Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. OFWs generally see their families, including children, once a year. ASKI, the microfinance institution (MFI) where I am currently based, is working on an innovative initiative to support OFWs.

Continue Reading 21 June 2011 at 20:00 7 comments

Update from the Field: Earth Day, Celebrations + Exceeding Expectations

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky

Kiva Fellows observed Earth Day by sharing projects initiated by their partner microfinance institutions and host countries and by celebrating’s first batch of “Green Loans”. The upbeat mood also extended to anniversary parties at MFIs in Jordan and Armenia, enthusiastic endorsements to travel to Colombia, and reporting on a great opportunity for Kiva clients in Mongolia. Fellows also visited with borrowers in the Philippines, South Africa, and Armenia, and took us on a typical commute in Mexico City. All in all, a very busy week as members of KF14 wind down their time in the field.

Continue Reading 25 April 2011 at 02:45 4 comments

Time, Love, Money & Energy

By Kaajal Laungani, KF12 Philippines

During our discussion, Mike mentioned something that I had thought a lot about prior to applying to the Kiva Fellows Program – the concept of being satisfied and feeling grateful. When he would ask his audiences if they had enough time, money, love or energy, most would flatly respond with a NO. I had observed similar sentiments through my interactions with people back home in California.

When I returned to Bohol, I thought it would be interesting to see how Kiva clients responded to the same questions. Before you read on, think about how you would respond to the following questions: Do you have enough time? love? money? energy?

Continue Reading 19 April 2011 at 03:00 4 comments

Island life – is it really as glamorous as it sounds?

By Kaajal Laungani, KF12 Philippines

It was a typical bright and sunny morning as I walked down the Talibon Pier towards the tiny boat that would take me island hopping for the day. I was greeted by six smiling loan officers already seated inside the boat; they watched as I maneuvered myself down steep sloping rocks, balanced on a beam to cross the water, and finally jumped onto the boat that would take me on an incredible forty-five minute ride through the Philippine Sea…

After a few stops and many laughs, we arrived at Nocnocan Island – a tiny island that is only accessible by boat. We pulled up on the shore and walked through a maze of homes and shops, the alleys approximately three and a half feet wide. At the cluster meeting house, where the CEVI borrowers gather on a weekly basis, I was able to learn about island life and how the microfinance loans were making an impact on the Nocnocan community.

Continue Reading 10 February 2011 at 06:10 1 comment

Video blog: The heart of Kiva

Mindblank! Recently I have been at a loss for words, and haven’t felt so compelled to share anything on the blog. Instead I decided to focus my efforts on producing a video of my time in the field as a Kiva fellow. One of the most amazing parts of being a Kiva fellow is the beautiful meetings you have with microfinance clients. In these sessions you have the opportunity to chat with borrowers about anything and everything. At the end of an interview we all commonly ask borrowers what are their hopes and dreams for the future.

Continue Reading 6 February 2011 at 22:07 6 comments

Clients’ Perspectives

By Kaajal Laungani, KF12 Philippines

We developed interview guides/modules based on the CERISE SPI tool – creating questions and group exercises related to the following topics: products and services, policies, over-indebtedness, staff relations, feedback and communication, client benefits, community development and child well-being. Over a span of four days, our team was able to collect data and feedback from client groups to gain a better understanding of how CEVI is perceived by those it aims to serve.

Continue Reading 5 February 2011 at 12:00

Lasting Impressions of Microfinance

By Joanne Gan, KF12 (Indonesia) and KF13 (Philippines)

If you asked me what I have learned about microfinance during my Kiva Fellowship, I wouldn’t know where to start. I have learned that running a social business comes with its share of challenges. I have learned that technology will pave new ways for the future of microfinance. I have learned that the best microfinance organizations have their clients at the heart of all their activities. I could go on and on about my impressions of microfinance from the last six months…but in my final blog post, I will spare you. Instead, below I share with you my 5 favorite images (from the 1,667 photos I’ve taken here) of microfinance at work.

Continue Reading 27 January 2011 at 16:42 3 comments

Party Time for Borrowers

By Joanne Gan, KF13, Philippines

Since arriving in the Philippines in early November, just in time for the holiday season, I have been to my fair share of parties. None of them, however, quite compare to the event I attended this past weekend in Cauayan, as the Project Dungganon branch office here celebrated its annual Foundation Day.

Continue Reading 24 January 2011 at 17:28 1 comment

Wealth Management and Savings for the Poor

By Joanne Gan, KF13, Philippines

Dream big. Do you want to pay for your daughter’s university education? Do you want to throw a celebration for your son’s wedding? Do you want to make significant improvements to your house? Even if you are poor, these dreams can be possible through financial planning.

Continue Reading 14 January 2011 at 01:18 2 comments

A Farm for the Poorest of the Poor

In our first week as Kiva trainees we were taught that microloans are not intended for the very poorest of the poor. Microfinance institutions target the unbankable poor, those who can benefit from a loan for an income-generating activity. There is another level of poverty below that, those who need emergency help for basic human needs. Many MFIs develop alternative services for this segment of the population. At CCT, one of Kiva’s partners in the Philippines, they have started a sustainable farm for street dwellers: Kaibigan (“Friend”) Village. (more…)

18 December 2010 at 15:00 1 comment

Falling in love with the Philippines…One song at a time

By Joanne Gan, KF13, Philippines

Singing and videoke are a large part of the Filipino culture, as I have discovered over the past month and a half while working here. In my first week at the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), I was taken out by staff members to a nearby lounge – and being my first time there (as with all new patrons), was invited on to the stage to sing with the live band. Let’s just say my rendition of “California Gurls” does not quite compare to Katy Perry’s.

Since that first week, some of my most memorable experiences have involved videoke and singing, and I’d like to share a few of them here…

Continue Reading 17 December 2010 at 18:01 4 comments

Holiday Shopping

Today, in the wee hours of the morning, American shoppers queued up outside their favorite stores, waiting anxiously to get the holiday season’s best deals. As Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the USA, and is one of the most highly-trafficked days of the year for U.S. malls….I also found myself at the mall this Friday…though this mall was in the Philippines.

Clients' products on display at the store NWTF has set up at the mall in Bacolod City


26 November 2010 at 11:28 1 comment

A Microfinance Classroom in the Philippines

In the U.S., there is a great deal of concern about hidden fees from financial service providers. “Read the fine print!” we are warned, because this is where fees and special conditions hide.

In a small village in Antique Province in the Philippines, I witnessed an entirely different approach. (more…)

24 November 2010 at 08:00 2 comments

Text to Repay

At a busy center[1] meeting, a woman waits, among 50 other women, for her turn to meet with her loan officer and make a weekly loan repayment. In a different village in the Philippines, one woman collects repayments from her 50 other center members, then travels the distance to the nearest commercial center to make the weekly repayment for the entire group at a bank. Now, imagine a scenario where a borrower can simply go to a retailer in her village and make her loan repayment by text message. Sound interesting?

In a rural area served by NWTF – where mobile banking could prove a useful solution for borrowers (more…)

23 November 2010 at 01:53 4 comments

Solb! 21 Centers, 21 Meals, 1 Day in Antique

“Solb” or “solve” is Filipino slang for “problem solved,” and typically said upon finishing a big meal. My problem (hunger) is solved, and I am full.

Was I ever solb last Friday…


18 November 2010 at 15:00 1 comment

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