Saturday, January 6, 2018

Hope springs eternal

“Hope springs eternal”
Sun.Star Davao, January 6, 2018

I see a twinkle in my friend Cheryl Leilani Mandap-Gomez’s eyes as she shares her experiences with the House of Hope Foundation for Kids with Cancer, Inc.

My involvement with a civic organization led me to know the foundation, Davao City Cancer Fund, Inc. Through the years, I have supported the House of Hope but it was only last January 2017 when I accepted the position of fundraising manager”, narrates my high school classmate.

Being her friend for more than three decades, I’ve known Cheryl to be passionate about her work and advocacies. It is always 101 percent, or nothing at all, for this determined lady. Divine intervention must have played a role in leading her to this crucial position.

“Childhood cancer is curable. However, treatment spans a number of months and even years. Therefore, a major stumbling block in treatment and cure among Filipino children is lack of access to health care institutions that can provide multispecialty care”, says Cheryl.

She explains further thatHoHF represents a coming together of people-families, advocates, communities, government and child cancer networks working to provide the best possible chances of providing holistic, multidisciplinary care for children with cancer particularly from marginalized families in Mindanao.”

Where there is hope

House of Hope Foundation for Kids with Cancer, Inc. (HoHF), formerly Davao Children’s Cancer Fund Inc., is a non-stock, nonprofit charity organization inspired by the House of Hope (HOH), which started out as an old dormitory within the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) compound.

A project in partnership with Rotary Club Waling-Waling of Davao, the HoHF building was renovated to serve as a transient home for children with cancer. Meanwhile, Kids of Hope are the children who stay at House of Hope and at the Children’s Cancer Center at the SPMC.

To date, more than 2,700 patients and 4,000 caregivers have benefited from HoHF’s clean and wholesome environment since 2007.
“HoHF has created a significant impact in the improved survival of most, and cure for some, children with cancer by promoting compliance to therapy and decreasing treatment abandonment. It has enhanced the quality of life of many children afflicted with this unfortunate disease”, according to a press statement.

Ball of Hope

As the fundraising manager, Cheryl finds ways to financially support the operations of HoHF. One of these recent activities is the Ball of Hope Dinner for a Cause which she successfully organized last month at the Grand Regal Hotel.

REVOLUTIONIZING THE CARE OF CHILD CANCER IN MINDANAO. House of Hope Foundation project director Dr. Mae Conception Dolendo

HOUSE OF HOPE'S FUNDRAISING MANAGER Cheryl Leilani Mandap-Gomez (center) with Agdao Violin Institute head Genji Jimenez and El Bonita Events owner Elinor Marcelino

In coordination with El Bonita Events and various generous suppliers and talents such as Noel Tanza (decors); Accredo Amor Productions/Ahiabon Lao (photo and video); Rex Del Rosario (emcee); Davao Event Suppliers Association; Agdao Violin Institute and University of Immaculate Conception Orchestra; Winner and Shen Asidor (vocalists); Jose Benavides/One Stop Video Marketing (LED Wall); Lyndon Banquerigo (photo booth); Ovaltine Ong; Arnold Alvarez/Siningtala Dance Theater Company; and Mark Pague (spinner), the Ball of Hope not only entertained and satisfied the guests and the Kids of Hope with delectable food, but raised much-needed funds for the HoHF.

“I am truly grateful to the event organizer, talents, suppliers and of course, the guests, who wholeheartedly and unselfishly shared their resources and time to pay tribute to and raise funds for the Kids of Hope”, enthuses Cheryl.

Hope springs eternal
Cheryl’s love and commitment for the Kids of Hope fuel her drive to work doubly hard as the fundraising manager.
“When approaching potential HoHF donors, all we actually need is an opportunity to talk to the right people and companies, and once that opportunity is given, it becomes easy when we explain the advocacy. Some of them respond. Some do not. So, we just manage our expectations”, declares the mother of two.
(Seated from left) Melencio Diaz Jr., Ces Diaz Roida Calladine, Emily Sian, Jannette Valderosa, Civil Service Commissioner Leopoldo Roberto Valderosa (Standing from left) House of Hope Foundation fundraising manager Cherly Leilani Mandap-Gomez; HoHF vice president Fatima Disomimba and HoHF project manager Dr. Mae Dolendo 

GSIS board member Anthony Sasin (second from left) and Jennifer Sasin-Floirendo (rightmost) with family and friends support the Ball of Hope.

She points out that there are countless ways one can do to support the HoHF. You can “Be a child sponsor; any financial need of the child in the course of his treatment will be in your account; Pledge to be a regular (monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual) donor; Give a one-time donation; Celebrate special occasions at HOH, like birthdays, anniversaries, and thanksgiving; Be a coin bearer. Coin banks will be placed in your establishments; Support by buying HOH merchandise; and Tell your friends about this advocacy”.

“I urge you to join us as we revolutionize the care of child cancer in Mindanao”, concludes Cheryl.

House of Hope Foundation for Kids with Cancer, Inc. is located at House of Hope, Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) Compound, J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City with telephone number (082)2247366. For more information, please check the Kids of Hope website at or like them on their Facebook page at

Special thanks to Accredo Amor Productions/Ahiabon Lao for the Ball of Hope photos.

Monday, December 18, 2017

An Enchanted Evening of Dance

“An Enchanted Evening of Dance”
Sun.Star Davao, December 18, 2017

Migrants from Manila at the turn of the century, Architect Cecile Dioquino-Hidalgo had to live a life of a newly-wed mother with her baby in tow, transplanted to the then remote place of Mintal, when her husband Francis became the Campus Architect of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao.

Back then, taking care of the house as well as their only child Noe became her priority as she became a full-time mother, mentor and adviser to her unica hija.

However, the call of the arts was never far away. Davao, as a melting pot of not only different cultures but arts as well, found Cecile teaching in Lu Chin Bon (LCB) Performing Arts Center, bringing professional ballet instruction, and directing talents from babies to advanced classes.

“My ballet training started with Nida Onglengco and Sony Lopez Gonzales. I then stayed with Pinky Mendoza-Puno of the New Manila Ballet Centre for the longest time. I also took special classes with guest teachers such as Maniya Barredo, Tina Santos Whal, and William Morgan and eventually taught for the UP Extension Ballet Program as well as the New Manila Ballet Center”, Cecile reveals.

After her stint at LCB, Teacher Cecile ardently taught Theater Arts and Acting and directed shows for Musikademy before setting up her very own I-Sayaw Dance Studio in 2013.

“I-Sayaw started out with a handful of students and with the assistance of supportive parents, mounted and celebrated its very first Christmas recital. Three summer recitals later, the school proudly continues to be one of Davao’s leaders in ballet, hip-hop and tap”, says Teacher Cecile.

With Teacher Cecile’s high quality of training for its students, it is no wonder why I-Sayaw has successfully fielded finalists in the 1st and 2nd CCP National Ballet Competition as well as training students who want to join the Makiling High School for the Arts.

Recently, I-Sayaw staged its first major ballet production, “An Enchanted Evening of Dance”, inspired by the classic tale of “Beauty and the Beast”, at the Davao Christian High School Auditorium.

“My daughter Noe and I gathered and edited the music for every student and class. I even choreographed dances in my mind and slept waving my arms in the air seemingly lost in a ballroom filled with dancers”, Teacher Cecile smiles.

The passionate teacher approached every aspect of the production with gusto. Because she finished choreography way before showtime, the cast had ample preparation to perfect the dances, impressing the appreciative audience during the show.

Skillfully portraying the Beast was Joshua Sabit with Erika Almaden as the beautiful Belle. On the other hand, supporting the cast was Teacher Cecile’s husband, Francis, as Maurice, and guest dancer Toffer Alegado as Gaston. Meanwhile, Architect Michaelangelo Ebro Dakudao gladly obliged to be the engaging narrator of the show.

Ably backing up the cast were other captivating characters namely Pamela Almaden as the White and Red Rose; Paul Quiachon as Lumierre; Anya Mercader as Plumette; Sofia Inigo as the Enchantress; Annie Seo as Mrs. Potts; Iyah Cruz as Madame Garderobe; Yonex Damiel as Le Fou; Pierre Guilles as Cogsworth; PR Labirua as Philippe; Asia Trono as the fork; Mary Tongcua, Julianne Simbulan, Jastine Barnuevo and Reanna Parrucho as Chip.

“Of course, the enchantment will never be complete without showcasing the kids’ dancing which surely complemented the scenes and added to the show’s over-all flavor”, Teacher Cecile enthuses.

These included the Babies Ballet dancing as Cupcakes and Birds; Beginners Ballet 1A as Saucers and Children Villagers; Beginners Ballet 1B as Dolls, Wines, Bottles, and Ribbons; Ballet 2 as Feather Dusters and Children Villagers; as well as Adult Ballet performing as Adult Villagers; and Tap 1 and 2, as Wolves and Villagers.

Together, these remarkable performers excellently came up with a spellbinding show delighting families, friends, and the show’s beneficiary, the House of Hope Foundation for Kids with Cancer, Inc. As promised, it was, indeed, an enchanted evening of dance!

We share photos of the show by Rey Alba, Bryan Tenorio and Cheongha Sam Yoon.

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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Human Nature blooms in GenSan

“Human Nature blooms in GenSan”
Sun.Star Davao, Dec. 2, 2017
Human Nature, the country’s largest genuinely natural personal care, cosmetics and home care brand recently opened its doors in General Santos City. 

The General Santos branch is the fourth Human Nature branch in Mindanao. Other Human Nature branches in Mindanao are located in Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

The new branch is a partnership among Human Nature Davao branch operators Rene and Sylvia Rieta; Joey and Joy Mempin; and Richard and Monique Villanueva.

Human Nature GenSan partners (from left) Architects Rene and Sylvia Rieta; Joy Mempin; Jineter Mesa; Jocelyn Mesa-Tablante; and Monique and Richard Villanueva
Their search for contacts who shared the same passion for the Philippines, the poor and the environment led them to Jineter Mesa, whose sister Jocelyn Mesa-Tablante, was one of the top-performing Human Nature advocates in GenSan. The initial connection paved the way for a branch in GenSan to become a reality.

Today, beauty lovers in GenSan can avail of the complete range of Human Nature products conveniently, enjoying a whole spectrum of nature’s green goodness at the spanking new store.

The well-loved, genuinely natural products available at the store include the brand’s classic Sunflower Beauty Oil, which boasts of 23 Miracles for the Face and Body and Bug Shield Oil and Lotion, which are DEET-free insect repellents.

On the other hand, Human Nature’s bestselling prestige beauty oils Overnight Elixir and Pure Rosehip Oil as well as a host of all-natural products for face, hair, and body will also be available at the store.

In addition, this December, all Human Nature Christmas Bundles come with a Human Nature Christmas Box and a P200 gift card that customers can use in their next purchase worth at least P1,000.

What’s more, the new location will likewise serve as a hub for the host of social enterprise brands carried by Human Nature which has currently 21 social enterprise brands under its wing.

Among these brands are Bayani Brew, a brilliant concoction of the nanays at Gawad Kalinga's Enchanted Farm which raises the income of agrarian reform beneficiaries; Dr. Gerry’s Coco Nectar, which helps farmers in Mauban, Quezon earn 10 times more than what they used to make from copra; and Precious Herbal Pillows, which directly helps a sewing community in San Nicolas, Bulacan by giving workers an income that is four times higher than the usual piece rate.  

Human Nature wants to strengthen the ability of their partner social enterprises to transition to larger retailers. The company hopes that through its efforts, social entrepreneurship model will become the gold standard in doing business rather than the exception.

Human Nature General Santos is located at Door 6-7, Phase 3, ECA Buildings, National Highway, Barangay City Heights, General Santos City. For more information, please call 0919 595 7072 or 0925 373 9104. To find a Human Nature branch near you, please log on to


Human Nature Davao says Thank You with Song

This year, Human Nature Davao brings live Christmas music to the Plaza del Carmen gardens along Loyola St., Bo. Obrero, D.C. with “Hymns: 4 Nights of Christmas Music”.  

HUMAN NATURE DAVAO PARTNERS Archt. Sylvia Rieta, Joy Mempin and Monique Villanueva at “Hymns: 4 Nights of Christmas Music”. The musical show is Human Nature Davao’s way of saying thank you to its friends and customers for their loyal support to the brand’s Pro-Poor, Pro-Philippines and Pro-Environment advocacy.
For four Saturdays which began last November 18, various performers entertained the shoppers of Human Nature Davao and Plaza del Carmen with endearing Christmas carols, ballads, and a touch of dance music on the side.

The musical series opened with Davao City’s renowned St. Joseph’s Choral Ensemble’s catchy Christmas carols. On November 25, guests were treated to an acoustic rendition of favorite Christmas tunes and hits from the 80s and 90s from the award-winning Muses Acoustic Band.

On December 2, watch the Gawad Kalinga SAKADAB Choir, a PWD community that has serenaded and brought tears to no less than President Rodrigo R. Duterte, as their group hits the high notes, inspiring the audience with their story of faith and determination.

And, finally, on December 9, a Filipino musical series is never complete without a sing-along.  Alfonso “Ponsing” Fernandez provides the flawless keyboard accompaniment on Hymns’ open-mike night with Human Nature’s family and friends. 

“Hymns: 4 Nights of Christmas Music” is Human Nature Davao’s way of saying thank you to its friends and customers for their loyal support to the brand’s Pro-Poor, Pro-Philippines and Pro-Environment advocacy.

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