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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

RAFI: Cultivating Culture, Nurturing Communities

In the heart of Cebu, where history intertwines with contemporary expression, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) stands as a beacon of cultural preservation and community empowerment.

Celebrating Culture, Empowering Communities: RAFI's 'Saulog' exhibit at The Kabilin Center merges artistic expression with a commitment to economic well-being. | Photo: Carlos B. Velasco

As it unveils its inaugural offering for the year, the "Saulog: Encounter, Pilgrimage, Transformation" exhibit at The Kabilin Center (TKC), RAFI reaffirms its commitment to enhancing the economic well-being of communities while celebrating the rich tapestry of Filipino heritage.

"Saulog," which is the Visayan term for celebrate, is not merely a fashion art display; it is a profound exploration of the Filipino journey of Christianity, spanning from the baptism of 1521 to the vibrant faith of contemporary times.

Award-winning designer and visual artist Steve de Leon masterfully captures this narrative using a blend of imagination, creativity, and technique honed through years of work in theater, film production, and fashion.

De Leon's avant-gardist aesthetic breathes life into historical and religious accounts through mixed media wall-bound tapestries, altar-like installations, and sculptural ensembles.

These pieces, adorned with fabrics handcrafted by indigenous communities from the Cordilleras and Mindanao, including piña, tinalak, hablon, banana fiber, and cañamoso, serve as a testament to the diverse cultural heritage of the Philippines.

The result is a harmonious ensemble of scenes and characters that not only delve into the religious history of the nation but also offer poignant insights into Cebuano spirituality and social issues.

Through "Saulog," TKC emerges as Cebu's cultural hub, fostering artistic expression and promoting the conservation of local culture and heritage alongside institutions like the Casa Gorordo Museum and the annual Gabii sa Kabilin.

Beyond the realm of art and culture, RAFI remains steadfast in its mission to uplift lives across the Visayas and Mindanao.

Since its establishment in 1966, RAFI has served as an architect of participation, fostering partnerships and coalitions to bring about positive change. At the core of its endeavors are three main program domains: Economic, Social, and Physical.

Under the Economic domain, RAFI spearheads initiatives aimed at improving the economic well-being of communities.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

One such program is the RAFI Micro-finance, Inc. (RAFI MFI) Program, which provides micro-finance services to underprivileged entrepreneurs. With a branch network spanning 278 locations nationwide, RAFI MFI has empowered countless individuals, releasing loans amounting to P8.250B in 2021 alone.

As RAFI continues to pave the way for growth and development in the region, its dedication to preserving culture and fostering community remains unwavering.

Through initiatives like "Saulog" and the RAFI Micro-finance Program, RAFI exemplifies a holistic approach to sustainable development, where economic progress and cultural preservation intertwine to create a brighter future for all.


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