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Sycip leads other men in barong for a purpose

/ 04:01 AM December 07, 2014

‘Designer Jeannie Goulbourn said her choice of eight gentlemen to model the barong for her latest fundraiser came after a careful study of each individual’s personality.

She described them as “philanthropists,” each with advocacies that Goulbourn feels she can identify with.

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All barongs were inspired by details in the paintings of artist Charlie Co, whom Goulbourn chose to feature for Silk Cocoon’s 19th anniversary.

Washington Sycip looked at the intense green barong he was to model, turned around and asked Goulbourn’s staff, “Should I strip in front of you?”

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People who know this man so revered in business and industry will not be surprised by such flash of humor. Sycip is known for his wit and youthful charm—at 93.

Sycip did not hesitate to oblige Goulbourn because “she is doing something good for the community, and anything good for the community is good for the country.”

Sycip has chosen education as his advocacy, noting that around three million Filipinos are illiterate. The situation is a cause for concern, he said, because those who cannot read or write are at the highest risk of “selling their votes.”

Sycip remains optimistic about the country. His efforts to support the schooling of some 100,000 out-of-school youth by year’s end should be proof enough.

Ever the jester, Sycip emerged from the dressing room donning a crisp number. He raised his hands to show off the design and blurted out, “I don’t look like I’m 93, no?”

George Yang’s card reads Chairman and Founder of Golden Arches Development Corporation—also known as the firm that brought McDonald’s to the Philippines.

What most people do not know is that Yang has trained to be a tenor, a talent he realized just a few years ago while singing karaoke with friends.

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He established the Klassikal Music Foundation that scouts for poor but deserving high school graduates with a passion for classical music. The group is sponsoring 30 students enrolled in music-related fields.

Classical music, he said, deserves more attention after it “strengthened his faith in facing difficulties and challenges with a positive attitude.”

His scholars, Yang envisions, would “give joy to people and soothe them of the stresses of their daily endeavors.”

Bobbit Suntay is executive director of the Cancer Resource and Wellness (Carewell) Community, a nonprofit that offers counseling, “fun activities,” support groups and other wellness services for free to cancer patients and their loved ones.

The effort began after his late wife Jackie suffered the same condition. A pleasant experience abroad with the original Wellness Community inspired the couple to “import” the idea of providing the same support services badly needed in the Philippines.

Suntay finds a parallel between Carewell and Hopeline, as both help address depression. “Many people who are diagnosed with cancer could suffer anxiety at the very least, and depression at the very worst,” he noted.

Bringing in the concept of a wellness provider for these patients, he added, “is the most fulfilling thing. I know that in our own small, simple, humble way, we are able to give comfort, support, a sense of hope, not only for the ill but also for family members.”

EON The Stakeholder Relations Firm’s chair and CEO Junie del Mundo has a handful of charities that keep him busy supporting children’s education and providing psychosocial care for terminally ill children.

His focus now, however, is HIV prevention.

Del Mundo is thinking of a collaboration with Hopeline in addressing cases of depression among HIV-positive patients.

“It’s not a disease but a lifestyle issue that we need to be aware of and act on,” he said.

Del Mundo noted that depression “has a certain stigma attached to it, so there is really need for education… It’s really a wellness issue. I think what we need to do is educate the public about the whole spectrum, the different levels and how [one] can intervene at different levels. We can take baby steps to make people understand.”

David Guerrero, chair and chief creative officer of BBDO Guerrero Proximity Philippines, had already worked with the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) years back.

He told Inquirer Lifestyle that addressing depression is challenging, given that “it can be hard to determine where to turn for support. Most vulnerable people tend to be isolated.”

Given Hopeline’s plan to train more responders for additional hotlines, Guerrero said the most urgent move is to make people “become more aware that responders are there, spread this message with an initiative like this. Perhaps by word being spread online or through other means, we can find a way to get the word out.”

Goulbourn said Guerrero’s commitment to her cause had already resulted in the creation of a public service video to raise awareness about NGF’s efforts.

Manny Miñana is best known for organizing “Voices for Visayas,” the benefit that gathered the country’s performing artists to raise funds for victims of supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

Goulbourn said it was this initiative that encouraged her to ask the architect to model her barong.

“Jeannie has always spearheaded projects that reached out to people, particularly those suffering from depression. Her personal experience puts her in a place of authority and she knows how much help is needed,” Miñana said.

The architect recalled that Goulbourn immediately sent blankets when he asked for emergency donations after a tragic landslide hit Guinsaugon town in Southern Leyte.

“Those things you never forget, and it was a real honor when she asked me to help her with Hopeline,” Miñana said.

Goulbourn said Jim Ayala’s involvement in bringing solar lighting and sustainable rural electrification to far-flung areas is why she chose him to model for her.

Ayala is founder of Hybrid Social Solutions, Inc., a company that distributes innovative products that benefit marginalized folk in remote regions.

His involvement in other social enterprises related to bringing light to hard-to-reach towns all over the country has resulted in the recognition of his efforts by the Schwab Foundation last year.

Ayala said it is possible those living in remote areas tend to suffer depression more than those in urban areas.

“They don’t feel that people are listening, especially in areas where we work. Even the phone that could reach the Hopeline hotline probably does not work,” he said.

“The more remote the place, the more desperate they feel. You don’t feel secure. But if we bring communications and make them feel they are part of our world, they would feel more connected,” Ayala explained.

Sen. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps in advocating education reform, stressing that learning remains the “best way out of poverty and toward a good life.”

The current chair of the Senate ways and means committee is also pushing for a more equitable and progressive tax system to empower the middle class.

Among the specific reforms he is pushing is decreasing the level of individual and corporate taxes, adjustments in the 14th month pay ceiling, and inclusion of education expenses and first family home as tax deductions.

Goulbourn said Angara’s efforts to pass an anti-bullying bill when he was still congressman of Aurora province was a great boost to efforts to combat depression. Cathy C. Yamsuan

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TAGS: barong, Charlie Co, design, interior design, Jeannie Goulboun
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