Restoring the Rice Terraces

Apr 22, 2017

The success of the first Driven to Serve Awards has hopefully created awareness on how corporate social responsibility projects have done much to the upliftment of many Filipino communities. The Driven To Serve Awards is the latest project of the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists (SPMJ), a tight group of motoring journalists from print, online and television formed in 2004. The current members are Pinky Colmenares (Exec. Editor of Manila Bulletin and now president of SPMJ), Belle Alba (Pres. And Editor-in-Chief, Gadgets Magazine), Jenny Pineda (VP -Sunshine TV), Inigo Roces (Motoring Editor, Manila Bulletin), Vince Pornelos (editor-in-chief, and Exec. Editor, C! Magazine), Robbie Consunji, off-road editor and columnist, Top Gear Philippines), Marnie Manicad (Pres/CEO of MMPI, producer of Turbo Zone), Brent Co (co-founder/editorial assistant,, Eric Tipan (columnist, motoring section of Manila Bulletin and host, ABS-CBN TV Sports+Action and radio Jam 88.3), Ron de los Reyes (producer/host, Auto Review, host Aksyon Sports), Ira V. Panganiban (publisher, Autocar and Wheels Philippines), and Ulysses Ang (columnist, Philippine Star, blogger, CarGuide.PH, and TV host for Wheels and senior contributing writer for STV's Auto Focus). This writer is SPMJ's Founding Chairman.

The Ceremonial Hall of theMarriott Ballroom, Resorts World Manila Complex was the venue for this first ever Driven To Serve Awards. It turns out that Resorts World's own CSR flagship project, the Pinoy Ultimate Jeepney which aims to promote Philippine tourism has been a big boon to Pasay City's neighboring communities and aspiring local artists since 2012, as shared with us by Resorts World's Chief Integrated Marketing Officer, Martin Paz. Filipino artistry is showcased in the full scale jeepneys that are the virtual canvasses of these Pinoy artists. These colourful, very Pinoy jeepneys ply the Pasay route to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Resorts World provided the venue and the sumptuous buffet (thank you!!).

Many other CSR projects remain un-trumpeted, and this is what inspired me to come up with the concept of the Driven To Serve Awards. When we invited the local car manufacturers and importers to participate in this program, we were amazed that they have been doing their share in uplifting the lives of Filipino communities for ten, fifteen years already, many of them working in the community where they are. Others are driven by the desire to serve, not necessarily in the community where they are in but always in pursuit of noble ideals that will benefit the Filipino people in general.

One of these is Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) which has chosen a far-flung area as its beneficiary. Mitsubishi embarked on the Batad Restoration as their CSR project, choosing to give back in terms of protecting the environment and, in effect helping out the immediate community as well. The Batad Rice Terraces is a major tourist attraction in Ifugao, but only the fit and the adventurous care to take the 10-hour bus or car ride from Metro Manila to Banaue. From Banaue, it would take you another hour's rough ride to the mountain. The trip doesn't end there. One has to take a 90-minute trek to reach Batad. Then, after a rigorous twelve and a half hours of travel, the trekker can begin to marvel at what the Ifugao people, generations of them, have done over time. They carved a whole mountain to create the incredible rice terraces, and these deserve to be preserved by the next generation, and the next.

The Batad Project of MMPC got people to volunteer and donate resources to restore the UNESCO-listed heritage site, reviving the age-old bayanihan value.

You probably know that since 2001, the Batad rice terraces in Ifugao Province has been in the list of endangered heritage sites of UNESCO. Early in 2012, Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corporation (MMPC) raised the call to help out in restoring the rice terraces to its old glory, and MMPC employees and some members of media heeded the call and motored to the mountain province. We watched the video in awe: the volunteers were passing each stone hand-to-hand until the stone rested in its final place to form the walls of the rice terraces. There was a lowlander, a photographer named John Chua who had sounded the call earlier for volunteerism in this enormous task of restoration because he himself had fallen in love with the Ifugao way of life, and MMPC responded with its own call for more volunteers. The enormous task of restoring the Batad Rice Terraces was made possible with a lot of hands working together in harmony.

After the task, it was time for MMPC to leave but not after leaving behind equipment to help the locals in the continuous task of rehabilitating the rice terraces because, being a handiwork of nature, it was always subject to nature's varying moods. In fact, it was the series of typhoons in 2011 that did the Batad Rice Terraces in, after years and years of slow deterioration.

The feather on MMPC's cap came in June 2012 when the UNESCO officially removed the Batad Rice Terraces from the UNESCO list of endangered heritage sites. Their CSR project was a big success

MMPC did not stop there. In 2015, or three years after the affirmation of the success of their CSR project, the company went back to Batad for a visit. With the rice terraces in good condition, they trained their sight on the Batad Elementary School which was in dire need of support. MMPC donated materials for the school renovation, school supplies and teaching aids for the faculty and students. These teaching aids include an iPad, big TV and educational video materials. It looks like Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corporation has adopted the Batad community, and the Ifugao people are blessed for having been chosen as their beneficiary.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines' Batad Restoration project has earned them the Silver Award from SPMJ's Driven to Serve CSR Awards.

It is really nothing short of awesome to see all these CSR projects on the screen, as we did when the judges deliberated on the winning projects. I shall be telling you more about these projects in future columns, but allow me to thank the hardworking judges of Driven to Serve:Ms. Millie Dizon of SM Retail, Mr. Rodrigo Franco, CEO of Metro Pacific Tollways, Msgr. Pedro Quitorio of CBCP, Dr. Cristina Padolina, President of Centro Escolar University, Mr. Sergio Ortiz-Luis, honorary chairman and Treasurer of PCCI and President of Philexport, and Mr. Edgardo Lacson, chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines. Thank you also to the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers in the Philippines (CAMPI), to Petron, Vista Land andResorts World Manila for their support to SPMJ's Driven to Serve CSR Awards.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino .

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About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)