MARAWI, PHILIPPINES – When war fell on Marawi, the city wasn't the only thing left ravaged. Close to 400,000 Filipinos were displaced from their homes by the 5 month siege that lasted from May to October 2017. Fleeing to safety, they abandoned their property, their sources of livelihood.
Marawi suffered more than PHP 17 billion in damaged infrastructure, private properties and economic activities during the course of the war. Many were on the brink of hopelessness, not knowing how to rebuild from the ashes. Evacuees struggled in temporary shelters and refugee sites with no electricity.
The darkness around the city did not just make the situation difficult and unsafe, but also perpetuated fear in the evacuees who were unsure of what the next days would bring, or what the next steps they’d take for rehabilitation are.
In September of 2017, PepsiCo and Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc. (PCPPI) in partnership with MyShelter Foundation's Liter of Light immediately went to work to provide the community with sustainable sources of light. The Pepsi Philippines team has been in partnership with MyShelter Foundation since 2011. Since then the team has been responding to every national disaster that hits, the most recent effort helping rehabilitate the communities struck by typhoon Yolanda.
"We have been partners with My Shelter Foundation throughout the years," said PCPPI President, Samudra Bhattacharya. "Our united desire to help rebuild the city and give the survivors from Marawi hope was what drove us to initiate this project.
The early response prompted the government to tap the Pepsi Philippines team as one of the private institutions to aid in the rebuilding of Marawi working with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation to further their reach.
To get more hands into the project, the team also engaged their brand ambassadors Daniel Padilla, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, National University volleybelle Jaja Santiago, and Magic 89.9 radio jocks Tin Gamboa (DJ Suzy), Anthony James Bueno (Tony Toni), and Eric Virata (Slick Rick) to help build Solar gasera lights in October 2017 for delivery to Marawi. Each gasera light is made of LED bulbs wired to miniature solar panels using a copper board. It houses rechargeable batteries similar to those found in computers.
To date, the Pepsi Philippines team with the help of Marawi community leaders have distributed 1,000 solar gasera lamps and installed 200 street lights in the city and the temporary shelters.
"The lights help make the people feel safe," said Bhattacharya. "But apart from that, it helps uplift their spirits. This, we believe, is a step to rebuilding their lives. With this project, we replace the darkness around them with a light of hope."