Philippine Self-Help Foundation


Negros Island, Where it all Started

It was an article in the Daily Yomiuri, an English language newspaper in Japan in the summer of 1986 that first alerted the PSHF founder Richard Foster to the famine on Negros island. His first visit to the Philippines in April 1986, just after the fall of President Marcos, had left a huge impression and a deep desire to return in a volunteer capacity.

On January, 1st 1987, Richard flew into Bacolod, the provincial capital, from Manila and stayed in the Sugarland hotel. The hotel was virtually empty of guests. The city was lifeless; there were barely any foreign visitors, other than aid workers teaming up with their local counterparts to set up feeding centres for hungry children. The island was sugar dependent and the world price of sugar had slumped.

Richard visited the Bacolod provincial hospital and saw the reality of malnutrition in the expressionless faces of the children in the paediatric ward. The idea for the PSHF started in these same wards. Richard gave 4,000 pesos to Dr. Duenas to lend to two families whose children were in the malnutrition ward. These loans were to be used for livelihood and repaid to enable these same funds to be used to help other families, through a Manila based, Negrenses' NGO run by Dr. Duenas' sister. By the end of that same year, the PSHF had its own office and a coordinator, Elre Ciudad had been appointed.

Two decades on, the Bacolod office has seen many changes in personnel and management but its mission lives on to give poor people opportunities to realise their dreams.