Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.



Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
Innovating Lasting Solutions to End Modern Slavery
Inside this issue:
I am an Honor Student:
Survivor Stories
Tumbang Preso: A Film
Like No Other
VF Wins Custody Battle
Against Traffickers
Rallying the Faithful: CBCP 10
and VF fight trafficking
Rescued by an iFIGHTer: A
Survivor Story
Build Better: Addressing
TIP Vulnerabilities in Post
Disaster Areas
Fighting for Fishermen
and OFWs
Mrs. Fighter: Fights Grease 7
and Human Trafficking
Yeng Constantino: I am an
Emergent Vulnerabilities
to Human Trafficking
Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
2014 Accomplishment Report
Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
Page 2
Who we are
Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VF) is a globally celebrated NGO in the Philippines innovating
solutions to end modern slavery. VF envisions a
society where people are free, protected, and
empowered to explore opportunities without the
risk of exploitation and slavery.
With over 20
years of experience, VF is a hybrid organization that fuses
social entrepreneurship, social
innovation, and
social mobilization to effect social change.
Appointed by the President of the Republic of the
Philippines, VF serves as Representative to the
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, a highlevel inter-agency body constituted by Law to
oversee the formulation and implementation of
the Philippine’s anti-human trafficking policies
and programs. Similarly, VF also serves as member of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal
Where we are
Visayan Forum operates 4 main regional hubs across the country - in
Metro Manila (serving Luzon and the
National Capital Region); Bacolod
City and Dumaguete City (serving
Western, Central and Eastern
Visayas); Zamboanga City (serving
Western Mindanao, and ARMM); and
General Santos City (serving Central
and Northern Mindanao). With a
strong partnership and volunteer
mobilization strategy, VF is able to
expand its service reach to almost
the entire country.
Licensed and accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development,
VF provides residential care and community-based programs and services for
women and children in difficult circumstances. It builds and empowers social
movements to sustain the momentum of
the fight against modern slavery. VF
prides itself for being a knowledge center
on human trafficking and modern slavery
in the Philippines, especially in terms of
innovative practices.
The VF Team is composed of highly passionate and compassionate people who
have dedicated their lives to the service of
the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable. We believe that our work is our
2014 Accomplishment Report
Page 3
What We Do
We Prevent
We reduce vulnerabilities of
families and
children by rais- Community leaders conduct regular parenting
ing their aware- sessions, awareness seminars, and counseling
ness, creating
community-watch mechanisms, and countering socio-cultural beliefs that perpetuate trafficking. In the long-term, we provide economic advancement opportunities through
social entrepreneurship initiatives and mainstreaming efforts to anti-poverty programs.
We know that if we build a network of dynamic and self-initiating community watch
groups with preventive mechanisms, then together we create new opportunities toward
stronger family and community defense
against human trafficking and other forms of
We Protect
We protect vulnerable people
on the move,
victims, and
survivors of exVF’s pro-active victim identification and
halfway house mechanism in major ports and ploitation by
airports aborts trafficking as it happens, and
protects vulnerable people on the move.
them in transit points and destination areas.
We operate long-term shelters and halfway
houses to provide “U-Turn” services that protect, heal, reintegrate, and transform victims
from a position of vulnerability to empowerment. We institutionalize direct interventions.
We believe that if we protect and transform
the lives of victims, survivors, and vulnerable
persons then, partners and ordinary individuals will be informed and inspired to intensify
the fight through stronger prosecution, better protection and quality services, wider advocacy and more prevention programs.
We Empower
We mobilize
and empower
people, especially the youth, Students who join the iFIGHT Movement, are
trained, equipped, and empowered to fight
with the suphuman trafficking and modern slavery
port of nontraditional partners such as churches, schools, local government, private sector and other volunteer
groups to create and sustain advocacy, referral and capacity-building networks in source
and destination areas.
We believe that if we have an empowered
youth serving as iFIGHTers, then we will end
human trafficking and modern slavery in this
We Influence
We inform and
influence policymaking, program developRe-launch of the Manila Harbor Task Force
ment and service
through solutions-based research, capacitybuilding programs, and mainstreaming.
We know that if we build a strong evidence
base, and develop innovative practices to address systems and structures that perpetuate
human trafficking and slavery, then we and
our stakeholders can innovate and scale up
best practices, institutionalize policy reforms, and support programs for sustainable
social change.
Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
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Major Accomplishments: The Centers of Hope
545 Rescued from Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery
In 2014, through its Centers of Hope,
Visayan Forum has rescued and protected
545 women and children from human trafficking and modern slavery.
Its Halfway Houses and partner Task Forces
at the Manila North Harbor, Ninoy Aquino
International Airport and the Zamboanga
City Port have reached out to and protected
1,707 vulnerable persons from potentially
dangerous conditions of migration and exploitative or abusive employment.
The rescued women and children received
holistic and transformative services including psychosocial therapy and healing, life
and enterprise skills building, educational
support, and legal and medical assistance.
Harbor Anti-Trafficking Help Desk Re-launched
To intensify the fight against
human trafficking, the Manila
Harbor Task Force Against Human Trafficking (MHTFAT), on
May 30, 2014 re-launched the
Anti-trafficking Help Desk at
the new North Harbor Passengers’ Terminal.
The Help Desk will pro-actively
identify possible human trafficking victims, intercept, and
rescue them, and facilitate the
provision of welfare and after-
VF wins custody battle with trafficker
In a seemingly desperate act to
influence his victim to recant,
an accused in a Trafficking in
Persons case urged the family
of a survivor under VF’s care to
challenge VF for her custody.
credibility, alleging that it is a
“dubious organization” using
victims simply to raise funds.
Three separate civil cases
were filed in different courts,
citing the same reasons.
To justify their claim, the petitioners’ tried to destroy VF’s
In a decision penned on 2014,
the Court disavowed the alle-
care services. It will also provide
protective information for vulnerable people on the move.
To complement the launch, the
Task Force convened on June 13,
2014 to develop its Strategic
Plan and lay-out guidelines and
agreements to intensify collaborative operations of the Task
Force. VF serves as Secretariat of
the Task Force.
The Task Force has since reinvigorated its efforts to intercept
and abort trafficking in transit.
gations against VF and ruled
that it was in the “child’s best
interest” to stay under VF’s
care, in consonance with manifestations from the Inter Agency
Council Against Trafficking and
the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The survivor now continues to
received protective and healing
care services from VF.
2014 Accomplishment Report
“I am an Honor Student”-More
Page 5
than surviving, survivors’ thrive
Maria and Anna were trafficked into
online sexual exploitation at the
age of 8. The acts they were made
to perform in front of a webcamera
are too unspeakable to write. Men
from different parts of the world
raped them through the internet.
When they were rescued, they
can barely communicate, having little education. Now at the
age of 15, Maria is in Grade 4
while Anna is in 2nd year High
School. They are both at the
top of their classes.
Both come from big families who
couldn’t provide enough food on
the table, let alone money for
school. Dreaming of being able to
go to school and helping alleviate
their families’ conditions, Anna and
Maria were easily lured to take the
“job” they were offered. They were
paid $2 per day.
Maria and Anna are not the
only achievers, they are joined
by Gine, Ace, Rina, and Beth.
At the Center of Hope, they
lead group activities, assist
fellow survivors in learning
new skills, and usher them
through the healing process.
Major Accomplishments: The iFIGHT Movement
35,000 Filipino youth made aware
In just one year, iFIGHT Movement has
successfully raised the awareness on
human trafficking of over 35,000
young people and worked with over 65
schools across the country. iFIGHT
Chapters are now being formed in
these areas to sustain the movement
and continue the advocacy.
The iFIGHT Chapter in Lyceum of the
Philippines University launched an inschool campaign on issues related to
human trafficking in August 2014. The
Chapters in Siena College of Taytay
and Eusebio High School have drafted
their strategic plan; and in Christian
Colleges of Southeast Asia the chapter
has been formalized and registered as
an official school organization, complete with constitution and by-laws.
In 2015, iFIGHT will reach out to 200
new schools, and 100,000 students.
With the challenge of sharing their
learning on human trafficking to ten
friends, iFIGHT will reach out to 2.1
Million young people in 2015.
Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
Major Accomplishments: The iFIGHT Movement
Yeng Constantino: I am an iFIGHTer
Philippines’ Pop Rock Princess,
Yeng Constantino has joined the
fight against human trafficking
and modern slavery.
Now an iFIGHT Ambassador,
Yeng seeks to intensify actions to
end modern slavery by using her
social capital in raising awareness
among the youth, especially her
followers. Anchored by a strong
Christian faith, Yeng believes that
this is her prayer and mission.
Yeng, has visited Visayan Forum’s Center of Hope many times
to understand the issue better by
forging a loving relationship with
Other celebrity Ambassadors for
iFIGHT are TV Personalities and
Models Tricia Centenera and Lani
Pillinger; and Former Party-list
Representative and Journalist Kim
Mayor Jun Ynares and over 100 schools
iFIGHT Ambassador and Antipolo city Mayor Jun Ynares,
in an effort to enlist his constituents in the fight against
human trafficking, called for the formulation of a local
policy rewarding a sizable amount to citizens who report
information that leads to the successful apprehension of
traffickers and cybersex den operators in his city.
Believing in iFIGHT’s vision, Mayor Jun also asked all
public schools in the city to adopt iFIGHT, and encouraged private schools to do the same.
The Mayor also had over 300 of his key officials and
government personnel, law enforcers, and service providers undergo a training on combating human trafficking,. The training became an avenue to create a unified
action plan for the city which will soon be implemented.
Mayor Jun Ynares poses with Cecilia and Leif Coorlim of CNN Freedom Project
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2014 Accomplishment Report
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Rescued by an iFIGHTer
Born to a farmer, Cora, though Salutatorian in High School, was never able
to finish her education and instead resorted to working as a Domestic
Worker in Manila in order to send
money home and help her family.
For a year, Rina endured abuse by her
employers, to the extent that she became dependent on pain relievers. She
was deprived of food for long periods,
forced to work for long hours, and
kept locked inside the house. The
trauma impaired Cora’s mental health.
One day, Rina, her fellow domestic worker escaped the
household and reported Cora’s plight to a Barangay official
who attended an iFIGHT event and was in possession of an
iFIGHT hotline card. They reported the case to iFIGHT. Immediately, iFIGHT coordinated with local authorities and
rescued Cora. She is now receiving treatment for her mental illness.
Major Accomplishments: The Ventures for Freedom
Mrs. Fighter: fights human trafficking, and grease
To build family and community resiliency
against modern slavery, Visayan Forum
continues to innovate community based
prevention programs.
Our latest venture, to increase economic
capacities, is “Mrs. Fighter” - a line of
household essentials produced by members of the Bantay Komunidad. The franchise business model enables families to
own and operate a dishwashing liquid refilling station to respond to both market
demand and purchasing power. A portion
of the earnings are shared with the Bantay
Komunidad operations in order to sustain
interventions that prevent and protect children from being trafficked into slavery,
abused or exploited.
Mrs Fighter was launched on February 10,
2015 at the BK Center in Pandacan, Manila.
Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
Major Accomplishments: The Ventures for Freedom
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The iFIGHT Band: A survivor’s craft
As part of survivor healing, transformation and
enterprise skills building programs, Visayan
Forum trained and enabled survivors at the VF
Center of Hope in crafting iFIGHT Movement
and Advocacy bands.
Over 4,000 bands have been sold in schools
and communities where iFIGHT has been
launched. Students who have bought bands
share a sense of pride and joy in knowing that
they are able to help survivors through their
purchase since proceeds are given to survivors
for them to save and use upon reintegration.
To galvanise their enterprising skills, survivors
undergo a series of trainings that develop their
capacities in conceptualizing, building, and
managing small to medium enterprises. To
complement entrepreneurial skills, Financial
Literacy Trainings are also conducted.
CCT Partnership
VF and the country’s foremost
faith-based community and micro
-enterprise development group—
the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) are now working
together to curb modern slavery
at the community level.
CCT on combating human trafficking at the community level.
VF already trained forty-five CCT
community organizers and pastors in General Santos City. The
CCT National team will receive
the same training in 2015.
VF and CCT will fuse efforts to
prevent trafficking at the grassroots by capitalizing on each
other’s strengths—VF in operationalizing
groups, and CCT on economic
and values transformation interventions.
Both envision the creation of
communities across the country
that are able to protect and prevent human trafficking by addressing root causes at the fam-
CCT will extend its community
savings and micro-enterprise programs to VF’s community watch
groups (Bantay Komunidad) in
Pandacan, Manila and Bacolod
City. In exchange, VF will train
ily and community levels.
CCT is an organized Christian response against poverty and social injustice. It
serves urban and rural poor
communities throughout
the Philippines, in pursuit
of its desire to see changed
lives, strong families, and
transformed communities.
CCT Pastors and Community Organizers
during a training on combating
human trafficking in General Santos City
2014 Accomplishment Report
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Major Accomplishments: The Policy Center
Surfacing Emergent Vulnerabilities
On November 26-27, 2014, VF
held the 2nd Civil Society Summit on Combating Trafficking
in Persons in Davao City. Gathering over 140 social innovators, law enforcers, and service
providers from various organizations across the country, VF
elevated the discourse on modern slavery in the Philippines.
VF surfaced emergent threats
and vulnerabilities to human
overseas Filipino workers to
trafficking, and new forms of
further abuse, of domestic
workers abused by their employers, and of young women
Highlighted were increased
vulnerabilities in post-disaster and children in online sexual
exploitation and sex-tourism.
and armed conflict areas, of
Cecil Oebanda, VF President
internally displaced persons
also highlighted the threats
(especially women and children) in urban poor and reset- posed by the accelerated
ASEAN integration considering
tlement areas, of men and
boys to forced and abusive la- our porous borders, the reperbor in the agriculture and fish- cussions of the Arab spring
revolution on the safety of
ing industries, of distressed
In partnership with Walk Free, a global anti-slavery
organization, VF launched 3 campaigns to protect
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and Fishermen.
VF called on the Philippine government to stop the exploitation of OFWs in Kuwait by suspending Recruitment Agencies implicated in the 2013 Sex-For-Flight
scandal where several Embassy officials exploited distressed OFWs. VF also called for the establishment of
safer shelters in Philippine missions in Bahrain, Singapore, and Taiwan by deploying Social Welfare Officers
to serve OFWs. By end of 2014, 7 recruitment agencies have been shut down, and the proposal for safer
shelters have been taken into consideration by the
country’s social welfare and foreign affairs agencies.
The 3rd campaign calls for a policy ensuring just compensation and protection from slave-like conditions
for fishermen in the deep-sea fishing industry, where
the profit-sharing method of wage payment and lifethreatening conditions of work have placed fishermen
in forced labor situations.
OFWs in the Middle East, and gaps
in policy harmonization especially
in terms of social protection such
as in domestic work.
By end of the Summit, a national
agenda on the key measures—
advocacy, protection, and prosecution was developed. Interestingly, almost all agencies recommended iFIGHT as a strategic solution and committed to engaging
in a regional iFIGHT caravan.
Fighting for Fishermen and OFWs
Major Events and Milestones
Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
Rallying the Faithful
Over 500 Catholic religious and lay leaders
from all over the Philippines gathered at the
University of Asia and the Pacific on February
26-27, 2014 for a training on combating trafficking in persons organized by different offices and commissions of the Catholic Bishops
Conference of the Philippines and VF.
This training gave birth to the Let’s Move as a
cohesive endeavor by various archdioceses
and religious congregations across the country. Several Let’s Move trainings for religious
and lay leaders on the ground were conducted
in Palawan Province, Bukidnon Province, and
the Zamboanga Peninsula. Religious congregations such as the Daughters of St. Paul and Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena have
also intensified anti-trafficking advocacies after the Let’s Move National Assembly.
The Big Screen on Slavery
Making its debut in the
big screen on October 8,
2014, Tumbang Preso, a
full-length feature based
on the life of victims of
human trafficking forced
into labor in a canning
factory, received an “A”
grade from the Cinema
Evaluation Board (CEB).
The Board cited it as a
“well-directed film that is
touchingly disturbing.”
According to the CEB “the
film succeeds in portraying the horrors of human
trafficking and is a commendable effort for a new
director who seemingly
has something important
to say about social issues
and who has the courage
to say it.”
CEB further praised the
film, “It is scarier than a
horror film! It is so realistic
that it frightens as well as
wakes up the viewers” and
“it touches our consciousness in all moral levels.”
The movie is directed by
Kip Oebanda, Visayan Forum’s Development Consultant.
The movie will soon be on
tour across the country as
part of an awareness raising program on human
trafficking. The Production
House will make the film
available to groups who
would like to hold a special
Page 10
2014 Accomplishment
Better: Trafficking
Free School After Haiyan
In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) wreaked
havoc in the Philippines, especially
in the Visayas region. Destroying
crops and infrastructure, killing
thousands, and displacing hundreds of thousands more, trafficking became an inevitable threat.
Months after the typhoon struck,
VF intercepted and rescued a
group of minors who were recruited to work in Manila. The
young girls and boys felt the need
to quit school and pursue jobs in
the Metro after losing loved ones
and livelihood because of the Typhoon. They felt the need to help
provide for their families because
the situation was too dire.
To address the increased vulnerabilities of affected women and
children, VF partnered on-theground organizations to provide
much-needed relief and rehabilitation efforts in line with antitrafficking goals.
VF helped rebuild the massively
destroyed Giporlos National
Trade School in Eastern Samar. VF
also provided equipment such as
sewing machines and cooking
tools in order to continue providing relevant training to the students and to keep them in
school. VF is still helping rebuild
the school’s computer room.
VF also helped provide psychosocial services to students who have
experienced trauma.
Furthermore, VF will be conducting anti-trafficking awareness
seminars for the students and
their families and will soon be
activating iFIGHT Chapters in the
Page 11
Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
Major International Engagements
On invitation of partners, Cecilia raised awareness on human
trafficking in different cities in Australia, effectively forming an
iFIGHT Core Group in each city. She also graced the launching of
Salvation Army and Walk Free’s campaign for the ratification of
ILO 189 or Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention.
Australia, September
As Board Member of the World Children’s Prize (WCP), Cecilia
graced the awarding ceremonies in Sweden, on invitation of Her
Majesty, Queen Sylvia, where Nobel Peace Prize Awardee Malala
Yousafzai was named the 2014 World Children’s Prize Awardee.
Together with her were Mae, a survivor cared for by VF and who
serves as Child Juror for WCP, and Ernest, iFIGHT Coordinator,
who attended WCP’s training on advocacy.
Sweden, October
On invitation from the Global Freedom Network and the Holy
See, Cecilia witnessed the historical signing of the manifesto to
end modern slavery by the leaders of the world’s largest faiths.
Modern slavery is a core issue that the Vatican has been tackling
in recent years. An unprecedented endeavor, the Pope and Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian leaders, pledged to
fight modern slavery together.
The Vatican, December
Invited by the Stanford University, Cecilia served as Resource
Person in a Lecture on human trafficking and modern slavery as
a global human rights and development challenge. She spoke to
groups of professionals, development workers, and academics
at the University. The lecture solidifies a new international network of experts on human trafficking.
California, April
World Engagement Institute, a Chicago—based international
training and development organization, and the Adamson University partnered with VF in conducting a 4-day intensive course
on human trafficking and modern slavery for professionals in
various fields - including academe. VF developed the training
curriculum, provided Experts Resource Persons, and organized
an on-site immersion at its Halfway House.
World Engagement Institute, May
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2014 Accomplishment Report
Awards and Citations
Page 13
St. Vincent de Paul Award
In October 2014, the Adamson University, celebrating its 75th Founding Anniversary held the 3rd
St. Vincent de Paul National Awards in Manila. The Awards is a “search for people and/or organizations whose projects reflect the concept and framework of systemic change, recognizing and
honoring them for their service to the poor” in celebration of St. Vincent de Paul, the universal patron of all charitable works.
Adamson conferred Visayan Forum with a Plaque of Honor at the Awarding Ceremonies. VF was
recognized for its Center of Hope Program citing that VF’s work and collaborative efforts have
created a “system of helping the poor meet their basic human needs and assisting them to
change unjust structures that keep them in poverty after the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul who,
in his lifetime, bore witness to and showed example of the love and services of the poor and the
Mother of Systemic Innovation
United Kingdom - based non-profit organization, Family Innovation Zone has named Ma. Cecilia Flores—Oebanda as
“Mother of Systemic Innovation”.
Citing Cecilia’s success in engaging multi-sectoral partners,
including government and corporate entities in the fight to end human trafficking and modern
slavery, as well as in lobbying for local and international policies, Family Innovation Zone concludes that she has given rise to institutional and systemic change in the country.
Based on in-depth research, the Mothers of Innovation is a list of mothers all over the world who
have innovated solutions to address various social issues. The publication profiled and named over
twenty mothers in different countries, with Cecilia being the only Filipina.
Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.
Innovating Lasting Solutions to End Modern Slavery
No. 18, 12th Avenue
Brgy. Socorro, Cubao
Quezon City
1109 Philippines
Phone: (02) 709 0711
Fax: (02) 421 - 9423
E-mail: [email protected]
What to Look Forward To in 2015
Centers of Hope
100 Survivors protected, healed and reintegrated
1,000 intercepted, rescued, and repatriated
18,900 people on the move provided with protective information
young women and men empowered and equipped to fight human trafficking
2.1 Million
youth made aware of human trafficking
Ventures for Freedom
28 empowered and engaged communities
10,000 empowered and resilient community members
Policy Advocacy and Resource Center
International Policies
National Legislation
Local Ordinances
Capacity Building Trainings
New Information