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    Jing Castañeda On Gina Lopez, Bantay Bata 163, And ABS-CBN Ball 2019

    Bantay Bata 163 Program Director Jing Castañeda reflects on her beloved boss, Gina Lopez, and her hopes and dreams for the child welfare program

    As ABS-CBN celebrates 65 years of being in service to the Filipino, it is bringing together its biggest and brightest stars at the ABS-CBN Ball 2019 this Saturday to benefit Bantay Bata 163’s Bantay Edukasyon program. The Ball isn’t just about who is dressed best, which actress went with which actor, or what photograph from the night earned the most likes. The Ball, most of all, is part of an effort to make sure that every child in the country is loved, cared for, and protected.


    It cannot be denied that at the heart of Bantay Bata is its beloved founder, Gina Lopez. Even after her passing, her spirit and her energy still permeate the organization, her colleagues and the children whose lives she’s touched still keep her close to them. One of these is Jing Castañeda, the organization’s Program Director. “Gina never failed to amaze me,” she tells Metro.Style. “She always chose the hard path to take rather than travel the easy routes.  She has all the means to the easy way, but Gina did otherwise.”


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    “She was always thinking about strategies and ways to keep the child safe. She believed that it was the nation’s duty to fight for every Filipino child. All of her advocacies and all of her programs were rooted for with love—her love for every child and her desire to give them a better world. Whatever she did, she worked with love in her heart and the people around her began believing it too. Whatever plans and dreams she had in her mind, love was her first and foremost ingredient. It’s why her advocacies have remained to be the most trusted organization for child protection and welfare.”

     

    “Her love for the children and her desire to protect and nurture them was the seed that started all the advocacies such as Bantay Kalikasan. She wanted to give every Filipino child a healthy environment to live in. She used to say, ‘I don’t think one can talk about a child without talking about love and I don’t think you can talk about the child without talking about the future.’”


    “During the Bantay Bata anniversary, I witnessed how Gina talked to the house parents and social workers, encouraging them to take care of the children under their supervision. She truly believed that every single person is her partner to change. She always reminded the people around her and even me that we should all serve with love in our hearts.” 


    Bantay Bata always made sure of that. 


    The organization perhaps would never have remained in service for this long if not for the love that its volunteers possess, or the passion and drive that its founder had instilled in the hearts of everyone there, working to make sure every Filipino child is protected. “It takes a village to raise a child,” Jing says, and that is taken quite literally, as the organization re-opened the Children’s Village in Bulacan just last year, also thanks in part due to the benefactors and donations received from the ABS-CBN Ball 2018, an endeavor she is very grateful for.


    “Through media visibility and publicity such as the ABS-CBN Ball, we encourage people to talk to each other and create dialogue,” Jing points out. After all, organizations such as Bantay Bata could never thrive or prosper without external help. Passion and love, while very crucial to the process, can only do so much. She adds, “Reaching out to the grassroots requires the cooperation and involvement of other sectors."


    “It is imperative for Bantay Bata to improve and strengthen its partnerships with private individuals and corporations, civil society organizations, NGOs, allied government agencies, local governments, barangays, and other stakeholders. This will then ensure greater program sustainability and act as a multiplier that will amplify the effectivity of Bantay Bata’s efforts. With more hands and hearts at work, the more can be achieved in the service of the Filipino child.”



    With the younger generation’s desire to make a difference in this world—and in the country especially—the future of philanthropy is bright, and Jing is more than hopeful. “Young people nowadays are very active, want to get involved, and make a difference,” she says. “There is also the power of social media—they volunteer for the causes they believe in. They channel positive energies. And the involvement of these young people are something Bantay Bata can take advantage of.”


    Jing’s hopes and dreams for the organization are simple. “For one, I want our Kapamilya to embody our tagline for the next twenty years—protect more, love more,” she says. “My main goal is to restore hope and ignite the children’s passion to strive, no matter how hard, and to achieve what they are aiming for—to help them dream again and to help them find their passion. The second is to make Bantay Bata everyone’s organization.” 


    “Although the Bantay Bata organization started as Gina Lopez’s vision,” Jing adds, “I dream that all sectors, and even other media networks, would also embrace Bantay Bata. Lastly, through every Filipino’s support, I hope that in the future, their advocacy will be everyone else’s too—one family, one child at a time.”


    For more updates and to catch the ABS-CBN Ball’s red carpet coverage, check out our live updates and live streaming below.


    Viewers outside the Philippines may stream via TFC Online by clicking here.





    Photos courtesy of ABS-CBN Foundation / Bantay Bata 163