x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Collecting ring-pulls to make a difference in the Philippines

Rowena Lapus-Torres, who has lived in Dubai for 14 years, is collecting ring-pulls from aluminium cans for an international charity drive to aid some of the poorest families in the Philippines.

Myrna Rebulanan-Anderson, let, and Rowena Lapus-Torres with her baby boy pick up ring pull tabs.
Myrna Rebulanan-Anderson, let, and Rowena Lapus-Torres with her baby boy pick up ring pull tabs.

DUBAI // Rowena Lapus-Torres visits Al Mamzar beach park every Friday, but not to enjoy the sun and the sea along with the families gathered there.

Her eyes are fixed on the ground as she hunts in the sand for tiny pieces of discarded metal.

Ms Lapus-Torres, 38, a legal secretary who has lived in Dubai for 14 years, is collecting ring-pulls from aluminium cans for an international charity drive to aid some of the poorest families in the Philippines.

"It's so easy to collect them because you can see them everywhere in Dubai," she said.

Ms Lapus-Torres, her husband, Tom, 40, sister, Leslie, 29, and colleagues at the law firm where she works have so far collected about 1,400 pull tabs.

These will be sent to families living in Manila's slums, including at the Smokey Mountain rubbish dump, who make them into handbags, purses, jewellery and accessories.

A percentage of the profit from the sale of these items helps to provide these families with a living wage.

Ms Lapus-Torres and other volunteers are taking part in a campaign launched by Lightform, a non-profit group accredited by the Philippine consulate in Dubai.

Like the Recycle for a Cause campaign launched by Abu Dhabi Cause Connect in November last year, the pull tabs are being collected for the Philippine Community Fund (PCF), which runs the project to help poor families in the Philippines.

"It's for a worthy cause," said Myrna Rebulanan-Anderson, the president of Lightform. "So we decided to launch our own project in Dubai on June 8."

Lightform will send the pull tabs to the PCF in November and will honour those who have collected the most at a clean-up drive it is organising in the same month.

Grace Princesa, the Philippine ambassador to the UAE, urged members of the Filipino community to join in after the collection drive was launched in Abu Dhabi.

Individuals, community groups and sporting clubs have jumped at the chance to help out those in need in their homeland.

So far, Abu Dhabi Cause Connect has collected more than 450,000 pull tabs with the help of more than 55 groups who have placed collection boxes in restaurants, cafes, hotels and other outlets in the capital.

It has also collected 3,000 plastic bags which will also be sent to the Philippines to be made into various products.

rruiz@thenational.ae