MANILA, Philippines - The Filipina founder of a non-government organization of domestic helpers and women became the first Asian recipient of an international social entrepreneurship award.
Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, President of the Visayan Forum Foundation was awarded by the Skoll Foundation on April 27 in England as the first Asian to receive the Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
Present during the awarding was former US President Jimmy Carter.
The Foundation said Oebanda "will join the growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven solutions for tackling the world’s most urgent social and economic challenges."
Maribel Buenaobra, Managing Program Officer at The Asia Foundation, nominated Oebanda for her valuable contribution to addressing gender-based violence, particularly human trafficking, in the Philippines.
"Since 2002, we have had a fruitful partnership with Visayan Forum Foundation to support the operations of their halfway houses in the ports of Manila and Davao City. The multi-sectoral partnership they created in the port areas, particularly the effective collaboration among the Philippine Ports Authority, shipping companies, Visayan Forum Foundation, port police and port workers, was cited by the US Department of State as a best practice in their 2005 Trafficking Report," Buenaobra explained.
Last week, Oebanda was honored at a gathering at the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza by the Asia Foundation to recognize her "innovative and successful efforts, after a highly competitive international search."
Oebanda hails from Bacolod City in Negros Occidental and has spent most of her life as a freedom fighter and worked with the urban poor, peasants, sugar plantation workers, women, youth and children.
Because of her struggle, she became a political prisoner for four years under the Marcos dictatorship. She was released from detention as a result of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. Immediately after her release, she started working on the blueprint for the Visayan Forum Foundation.
A recipient of the 2005 Anti-Slavery Award by Anti-Slavery International—the world’s oldest human rights organization—she was recognized by the UK government as one of the Modern-Day Abolitionists in the celebration of the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in March 2007. - GMANews.TV