Friday, April 19, 2024



How do you feel about this story?


makeover to three different advocates on Mental Health, Education, and Agri! More than that, they made sure that their heroism will echo in today’s celebration, featuring Rural Rising Philippines, Avegale Acosta, and Prof. Emmanuel Raon – Santos.



First, we have, Rural Rising Philippines (RuRi), led by spouses Ace and Andie Estrada of Baguio City, a collective, non-profit grassroots effort to help distressed Filipino farmers get back on their feet and feed the nation with pride. It helps by doing “Rescue Buys” in areas where there is an over-production of fruits and vegetables, and by paying the farmers above-farm gate prices. RuRi then distributes the rescued produce to its members at below-bagsakan prices. The farmers win and so do the consumers. All fruits and vegetables that are not claimed within 48 hours are automatically donated to hungry communities in the NCR and to various community pantries. No produce goes to waste. When asked about their advocacy, Mr Estrada mentioned that “We believe that when farmers are paid the right price, they have a chance at achieving rural prosperity; that by giving members access to fresh and cheap produce, they would share what they cannot consume to the needy or perhaps create a profitable reseller business; that by channeling all unclaimed or unsold produce to residents in economically depressed communities, their lives are sustained, their souls given hope”.


Today, RuRi is working to erect vegetable tramlines in Benguet, create a water and forest conservation project in Nueva Ecija, and establish community libraries in various farmer communities. It is also working to establish a processing and packaging facility for rescued produce, and the country’s first Rescue Kitchen. When asked about his message to everyone, “We welcome offers of help in whatever form it comes if it would help the farmers and create small but impactful change in the countryside”, he ended.


Next is Avegale Acosta, MA, RPsy, RPm, Lecturer, Ateneo de Manila University; Psychologist, AteneoBulatao Center.Avy has been practicing in the field of psychology for 12 years, and has been teaching for 7 years. She provides psychotherapy for those who experienced trauma, anxiety, grief, and other mental health concerns. She also worked with communities by co-developing and implementing resilience and community-based drug recovery interventions.During this time where an estimate of 3.6 million Filipinos are facing mental health issues (DOH) and with limited mental health professionals, she spent most of her time providing psychosocial support to those experiencing mental health distress, teaching and mentoring future psychologists, and training individuals from schools and organizations to provide psychological first aid for those in distress.


We asked Avy about mental health and this is what she has to say, “Ang mental health issues ay isang invisible epidemic. Maaaringhindinatinmakitaagad ang sintomasnito. May mgataonatinatagoito. Pero hindinatinalamnamaraminapalasilangpinagdadaanannaproblema o maaaringnakaranas ng traumatic events o maaaringnabuburnoutna.Madalasisinasawalangbahalarinnatin ang ating mental health hanggangsadumating ang arawnamaaaringsasabognalangito, o walanatayongmotibasyon o ganangmabuhay, o nagkakasakitnatayo”. According toAvy, “ang pagsuportasa mental health ay hindilamangtrabaho ng professionals. If we can educate more people how to prioritize and take care of their mental health and how to respond to people in distress, we can prevent many mental health distress from escalating to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance use, etc”, she ended.



Finally, we have Prof. Emmanuel Raon – Santos of PUP, Manila. Sir Ems as his students fondly call him, has been teaching since 2008. But in 2015, he decided to pursue a path outside the academe and flew to Dubai. The odds turned in his favor and he successfully got a lucrative job in the corporate arena. During the pandemic, he decided to stay in the Philippines. When we asked why, he shared:


I had many chances of coming back in the UAE. Pero nakitakoyungmgakaibigankong nurses at doctors, lumalabantalagasila para sabansanatin. Naramdamankonabilangisang Filipino at guro that I should do my part as well, most especially saganitong pitch dark moments natin. Maraming educational institutions ang nangailangan ng mgaguronakayangsumabaksa virtual classes. Kaya, I decided na mag-stay muna.”


He also expressed to us that the pandemic is not just a battle meant to be fought by medical professionals.


Eh yung pandemic eh hindilangitolaban ng mga medical professionals e. Laban ito ng lahat. Laban ng bawatPinoy! Education must continue lalung-lalonasaganitongpagkakataon. There are no small roles saganitonguri ng giyera. Bawatisasaatin ay essential. Pinipilikonamagcontributesaalamkongparaan.”


Ace, Andie, Avy, and Ems are from different sectors, but all of them are heroes! Their advocacies are timely and essential to our post Pandemic world. May the stories shared today inspire the hero amongst all of us. Happy National Heroes Day!