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Charity group ICM raises US$2 million for Philippines’ poorest

09 November 2018

By Mirella M. Deocadiz

With a point and flourish, professional auctioneer, Joff van Reenen, closed the bidding for a hotly contested item, dinner for 8 with Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo for $150,000, (Php1.02million) at the International Care Ministries’ annual banquet on Oct. 24.

Impressive as the final bid price was, the action did not end there. Hours after the event closed, two losing bidders offered to match the amount for the rare dining privilege, and the VP, a known pro-poor advocate, immediately obliged. Her three dinners, totaling HK$450,000 (Php3.06 million), became one of the top ticket items at the fundraiser.

Auctioneer Joff van Reenen coaxing a guest to bid more for dinner with Vice President Leni Robredo.
But this was just the tip of the iceberg. At the end of its five-hour banquet at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, ICM managed to raise a whopping HK$15.9 million (US$2.1million or Php108.75million.

A jubilant David Sutherland, ICM’s chairman of the board, said in an email the day after that the record amount raised was enough to fund 25% of the NGO’s yearly operation across 23 provinces in Central and Southern Philippines.

David Sutherland, ICM’s chairman of the board, with the contestants in the “Stepping Free” dance contest.
But as in previous years, the largest donations of the evening came during the much-awaited “Moment of Giving.” With van Reenen leading the charge, 112 individuals raised their number paddles in a frenzy for outright donations ranging from HK$8,000 (PHP54,700) all the way up to a lone wolf pledging HK$800,000 (PHP 5.47m).

One young lady drew gasps at her table when she raised her number card for a HK$400,000 (Php2.73 million) donation, then followed it up with another HK$40,000 (Php273,000)
This part of the evening was particularly striking as the donors were not going home with anything tangible. Rather, their pledges were outright donations to ICM’s various programs to help poor communities in Visayas and Mindanao.

Another big moneymaker for the night was the silent auction, which raised a total of HK$1.7 million from donated pieces from individuals, hotels and resorts, and corporations. Altogether, the 115 lots were divided into three groups, one being auctioned over the appetizer, another during the main course, and the last over dessert.
Competition was fierce for some of the items, which had all been displayed at the foyer ahead of the dinner, the better for the guests to appreciate them. Among the highest winning bids were HK47,000 for Ramon G. Orlina’s glass sculpture, “Loveliness of Autumn”; and Justin “Tiny” Nuyda’s “Search Mindscape: It’s A Blue Day” which went for a cool HK$44,000.

Others were sold for relatively smaller, though no less impressive amounts, like Maryrose Gisbert’s “Tindera” which was sold for HK13,500 and Seb Chua’s “Emerald Wave” which went for HK$12,000.

The other Filipino artists who donated pieces sold at the auction included Pete Jimenez, Jaime Gubaton, Gerrico Blanco, Norlie Meimban, Aner Sebastian, Ferdie Cacnio, Hermes Alegre, Fred “Cana” Valencia and Salvador “Buds” Convocar.
Aside from artwork, the lots also included accessories from Arnel Papa, Ann Ong, Marjorie Renner, and Ana Rocha among others; as well as exotic vacation getaways to Portugal, France, Oman, South Africa, and the Philippines.

Also included was a dinner with American pastor Tim Keller at New York’s Jean-Georges’ restaurant which, after 55 bids, went for a cool HK$76,000; as well as tickets to the Ellen DeGeneres show which went for HK$22,000.

While these sums were eye-popping, they didn’t distract from the clear focus of the evening: the impact of ICM’s work in the Philippines.

The young emcees of the night (and members of ICM’s children’s choir), Mary Jane, Nica, and Rizzel were all smiles as they addressed the room and spoke of their deep appreciation for the NGO’s support.

The “Sugar Cane Warriors”, winners of ICM’s dance competition, “Stepping Free”, not only expressed their gratitude, but also decided to give 10% of their winnings from the competition to a savings group for their ICM community.

And finally, Alexis, a six-year-old boy who successfully received hand/foot surgery offered handprints to every donor to ICM’s Medical Mercy Fund which provides medical treatment and support.
Their stories were enough to convince everyone that ICM’s programs had the power to transform lives, and provide hope for the future.

Founded in 1992 by a Hong Kong-based Singaporean interior designer, Sharon Tang, ICM delivers support, training, and resources that allow their participants to progress out of poverty.

The NGO which targets Filipinos living on 50 US cents a day, operates 9 regional bases in Visayas and Mindanao: Palawan, Panay, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bohol, Zamboanga Del Norte, Koronadal, andGeneral Santos.

On its 25th year last year, the NGO reached its one millionth family member through its main Transform program. With continued support, ICM hopes to keep going until no child has to live in ultra poverty.

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