Christmas came early for the Philippines Norway Business Council (PNBC) as it held its annual Christmas Luncheon last December 12, 2018. With the usual venue I’m Angus Steakhouse bursting with attendees (65-strong as per record), the occasion was graced by the presence of representatives from member Norwegian and Filipino business entities and family members/spouses. Norwegian Ambassador Bjorn Jahnsen was also present together with key staffs from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila.

As in the previous years, the Christmas luncheon had a CSR theme, and a speaker was invited for this purpose. PNBC President Capt. Ivar Thomasli gave the opening remarks. CSR TWG Head Rodolfo T. Azanza Jr. introduced the speaker, Mrs. Ermelinda Bahatan from an NGO called Cababuyan Women’s Initiative Group based in Barangay Cababuyan, Municipality of Hingyon in the Province of Ifugao in mountainous Northern Philippines. Mrs. Bahatan as a member of the Indigenous Peoples of Ifugao is leading a group of women who had been widowed by the landslides caused by Typhoon Ompong (the men of the village work in small-scale mines).

The village community of Cababuyan had been a recipient of some projects that were initiated by Nils and Ronny of the “Handlingensmenn”/Men of Action of NRK1 TV fame. A village library has been built there by Nils and Ronny early in the year, and more recently they came back to kick off a soap-making livelihood program for the widows. for both trips to the country for these initiatives, Norconsult AS in Norway provided support.

A shipment of soap (trademarked as Terraces Bubbles) has been ordered for delivery to Norway by Nils and Ronny, and PNBC Member Norconsult Philippines also ordered 500 soaps for its Christmas giveaways.

After Mrs. Bahatan’s presentation, PNBC Vice President Helge Oliversen of GTravel stood up and coaxed, charmed and cajoled everybody to buy the soap samples that were brought by our guests from Ifugao, including Ambassador Jahnsen who was quite enthusiastic to get hold of a few of the products.

PNBC also announced that that it is donating Php50,000 for the purchase of children’s books to fill up the village library. The Council’s CSR focus is towards education, believing that it is the key to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!