ASHI or Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (A Microfinance NGO) has the vision of a community of servant leaders who pioneered and continue to innovate the principles of the Grameen Bank approach in the Philippines. Zonta believes in making the world a better place by empowering women and that is what ASHI likewise aims for. ASHI's mission is to inspire marginalized women and their families to discover their God-given dignity, enabling them to rise above poverty.

Zonta Manila 1 has collaborated with ASHI by donating 65 tablets to deserving "nanays" which they can use to better manage their small business set up from the loans they obtained from ASHI. With those tablets, our club was able to conduct an online Values Formation and Basic Financial Literacy Program in cooperation with Finex (Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines).

We were also able to conduct an online talk entitled "Alamin ang Inyong Karapatan" about laws against anti violence against women, their rights and what they can do to protect themselves.

As a further project, we plan to conduct an online Basic Bookkeeping for these nanays.

Prepared by Girlie Pe

Updated in August, 2023: Biofertilizers MYCOVAM in partnership with ZONTA Club of Manila and Dr. Nelly Aggangan of Biotech UPLB.

On the farm of Tatay Sergio Constantino the application of MYCOVAM improves the bell pepper production. Though there are some plants infected by the anthracnose but they can easily controlled them thru proper maintenance. He delivered the harvested crops to the chain of restaurants (Chowking)

While on the communal farm, bell pepper bear a lot of fruits but did not meet the size acceptable for institutional market. One of our findings is because they did not follow the correct protocol during the flowering stage especially on the proper maintenance. They supplied the harvested crops only for local markets.

For Tatay Chris Lagrimas, President of AGAP Farmers Association, using MYCOVAM improves the quality of his produced that is why aside from Spring Onions he tried to applied it to other crops in the farm. And according to him he clearly observed the good effect and benefits of this micro biofertilizers to his farm.

Updated on Nov. 11, 2022: Pres. Gisela Concepcion and Grace Basilio-Soong met with ASHI farmers at their meeting hall in Baranggay San Antonio, Kalayaan, Laguna. They met Dr. Nellie Aggangan, of UP Los Banos Biotech.  She is one of the researchers who patented Mycovam and 15 Mycorrhizal species. These are fungi that symbiotically live on the roots of most trees and plants. These bio-fertilizers help increase crop size, improve the quality of the soil, increase fruit size and production. Application is once for the lifetime of the plant because the biofertilizer is a living organism.

The purpose for the visit is for Dr. Aggangan to demonstrate to the farmers how to apply Mycovam to their crops, seeds and seedlings.

The farmers prepared lunch for the guests at their cooperative. This building, their refrigerated truck and their meeting hall were donated by the restaurants who purchase their produce such as Jolly Bee and Chow King.

They had a toilet and kitchen sink in the co-op. However, the toilet was "manual" flush and they had no running water and no lights. Therefore, guests needed to use a tabo (large cup) to wash their hands and grope their way in the dark.

It rained when they got there. Hence, the red soil was quite slippery and muddy. Temperature was cool because the town is up in the mountains and visitors could see part of Laguna Bay at some point in our drive.

They were treated to fresh coconut juice from the husk, kuhol (snails), paco (fern) salad, paco cooked in coconut milk, fresh lumpia (egg roll), roasted and fried tilapia.

The ASHI farmers meeting always start with a prayer and the ASHI pledge. The meeting also ended with the ASHI pledge.

Fifty kilos of Mycovam were going to be given to the farmers.  Twenty-five kilos were donated by Gisela Concepcion and an additional 25 kilos were donated by ASHI president, Mercedes "Marcy" Abad.

The farmers were not too enthusiastic go out to the fields for the live demonstration, probably because the ground was muddy. Dr. Aggangan just gave them instructions verbally.

Gisele, Grace and Nellie were treated to banana turon (deep-fried egg roll) after her lecture. They ended their visit with a few photo ops before heading back to Manila.

Updated 8/24/2022: ASHI President, Mercy Abad and Pres. Gisele will be visiting UPLB BIOTECH to meet with Nelly Aggangan and the BIOTECH Director whom Mercy wrote to, regarding Mykovam, other biofertilizers and biopesticides for use in a 10-hectare ASHI pilot farming area in Laguna; this includes a training component.