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Antabay Buhay: “Gifted to Give to Defend Human Dignity”

Arise Philippines Coordinator Sr Cecilia Espenilla OP outlines the Antabay Buhay project following its October launch. The project is set to provide livelihood support, ethical recruitment services and a youth training and awareness programme to the target community in Dagupan City for two full years. This to alleviate poverty, encourage solidarity and create community-wide resilience to human trafficking, including labour trafficking and child sexual exploitation, which frequent impoverished communities in the Philippines.

“Antabay Buhay” is the local name we gave to the Arise Project in the Philippines. This is a project that Arise is supporting for the coming two years, launched in October 2021 and concluding in September 2023. The main goal of the project, our mission, is to prevent the rising incidence of human trafficking, especially amongst poor community members and children.

“Antabay” in Pangasinan means “to guide” and by doing so “to nurture and support” the other. ‘One cannot guide unless one walks with and feels for the other’ (Fr. Barats). “Buhay” means life. So together, Antabay Buhay means to create a community that will provide support for one another, to make a better life for all.

Who are the beneficiaries of the project? The Antabay Buhay project provides livelihood support to 40 families over two years. It also serves as a physical venue for community members to access ethical recruitment services, especially for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This will be achieved through computer and internet access and through the Work-Skills Connect program, created by Voice of the Free and supported by Arise. Training will be provided to the youth, starting with the children of the beneficiaries of the livelihood project and Work-Skills Connect, to help them realise their potential as agents of change. They will be included in the Voice of the Free’s iFight project for youth against trafficking.

Finally, the Antabay Buhay Community will be provided with values education and formation. This will help to enhance their understanding of the value of every human being as equally deserving of rights and dignity. We will also promote the value of industry - that there is dignity in work. Antabay Buhay members will be encouraged to work together and assist one another so that, as a community, they will successfully achieve their goals.

For their livelihood project, the Antabay Buhay Community has already identified the following economic ventures:

  • Establishing and running sari-sari stores (small type of store)

  • Backyard fishing and selling of fresh fish

  • Growing and selling of fruits and vegetables

  • Making and selling home-made snacks and meals

  • Selling of street food using a push cart

  • “Ukay ukay” - selling of second-hand goods, like clothing, bags and shoes

Now, we are looking forward to seeing the Antabay Buhay community rise from poverty and move forward to a new life with great hope for the future. We hope to see them standing on their own, valuing their life, effort, work and commitment. This opportunity from Arise will give community members, including children, the tools to protect themselves from different forms of exploitation. I am grateful to be a part of Arise, the supporter of Antabay Buhay livelihood project in Dagupan City, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines.

Article by Arise Philippines Coordinator, Sr Cecilia Espenilla OP

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