Photo:  Manny  Paquiao  and Jonathon Bentley Stevens.

Video:  Sabangan project. 

"Plant The Trees And Light The Villages"

Our current project is in Sabangan, Sarangari, Mindanao in the Philippines. It was given the Go-signal by Manny Paquiao, World champion boxer, during the launch of his Pacman Programs for the Poor Foundation at Pacman Farm in Malungon, Sarangani Province in early 2011. The project site is the traditional ancestral lands of the Blaan and Tagakaulo tribes with history dating back to 500BC. This area was selected as it was impoverished, being a land-locked municipality where the inhabitants live deep in the mountains, without traditional fishing as a livelihood income source.


Manny Paquiao supports the need for programs which give not only employment opportunity to the upland lumads but programs which generate a sustained income for the inhabitants of Sarangani Province, to bring a halt to the production of Charcoal as a major source of livelihood in the area.


JBS said; “Manny Paquiao is a true champion of the people, not only in boxing but in realizing that as an individual he can use his fame to help his people and their project to gain international recognition”.


Since the launch the project launched a reforestation program to rehabilitate the decimated Sarangani Rain Forest, in Malungon, Sarangani province, Philippines.

In 2013, understanding the plight of thousands of families still using kerosene bottle lighting, which is a known carcinogen, the project was re-named  “Plant The Trees And Light The Villages”   a strategy to encourage the indigenous people, to accelerate the re-planting of the Sarangani Rain Forest with the reward of free home solar kits to every family that plants 500 or more trees in the Project.  


The since the launch of the project, over half a million trees have been planted and almost 500 remote native houses now have solar lights  

Project Managing Partner Mr. Jonathon Bentley-Stevens said, “We have been undertaking Agro-Forestry projects to assist the indigenous tribes in Mindanao since 1994, but this is clearly the most successful project to-date. We have really connected with the indigenous people in each of the seven villages, who now earn money from potting seeds, growing seedlings in the nurseries, transporting mature seedlings to the mountain tops, then planting and weeding”.   

He continued, “ The lasting benefit of the solar lights is a direct saving of around $10.00 per family per month on kerosene, formerly used for lighting, which had to be carried for up to 40 kilometers to the remote mountain villages. With this saving, the planting families are now responding by building community sheds for tribal gatherings, day care centers and kindergarten, using their own funds earned in the Geoaxioma partnered project. The lights also have USB ports for charging phones once Tier1 provides communications coverage. 


Project sites are in Tagbungan, Kadala Dalaan, Sitio Candice, Patulang, Patulang Centro,  Sabangan, each of the 7 existing nurseries have seedling capacities of between 30,000 to 70,000 growing trees at anytime.

The project is now more than half way to its target of one million trees, and a bronze plaque has been installed commemorating the milestone. achieved.

Over the years our projects for Indigenous groups have included the following:


Corn plantations in Pagadian, Zamboanga,

  • Native Limestone quarrying in Cadbadbaran;

  • Corn plantations in Talakag, Misamis Oriental, including the gift of a P250,000.00 International Harvester tractor and plow to Datu Mamatikan, Chief of the Manobo Tribe. The tractor was presented in a ceremony in Cagayan De Oro City which included as guest Hon. Nur Misuary, then Governor of ARMM, and members of the DENR;

  • Reforestation on 1,350 hectares for the Banwa-on Manobo tribe in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur;

  • Native Mushroom farming project in Digos;

  • Completion of a 2,000 hectare IFMA project for the Manobo Natives in Lucac, Agusan Del Sur.

  • Completion of a 1,000 hectare IFMA project in San Luis, Agusan del Sur.

  • Nursery rehabilitation and livelihood IFMA project for the 830 workers displaced by the closure of the Lianga Bay Logging Company, which left 860 workers destitute.

This project was proposed by Governor Antonio Azarcon, who visited JBS repeatedly in his office in Butuan to earnestly request the intervention by BHIC in the Lianga Bay rehabilitation project.


Though the project involved rehabilitating the old Georgia Pacific Plywood Mill, JBS approved the project on humanitarian grounds, and kick started it with a P4 million cash grant in lieu of back salaries to the 860 workers which were not paid when Georgia Pacific Logging Company left the Philippines..


There was no bank anywhere near Lianga Bay, so for security reasons JBS chartered a private plane from Cebu and flew to Butuan to pick up the P4 million in cash, then on to Lianga bay, landing on the old airstrip to deliver the “Cash for Christmas” to workers who had not been paid in 3 years.   A further P11 million was invested in rehabilitation, however the Government implemented a log ban which prohibited the mill from getting an operating license. However the workers formed a co-operative and became DENR licensed for a sustainable operation on a small portion of the concession, hand in hand with nursery operation and replanting program.

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