Guesthouse with a heart: visiting a social enterprise in the Philippines

Jessica, Marisol and Richard, three of Makabata Guesthouse & Cafe's Social Enterprise Youth Associates, at work. Image by Ericsson Agujar / courtesy of Bahay Tuluyan.

Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler reports from the Makabata Guesthouse & Café, a social enterprise in the Philippines, and shares his favourite accommodation picks for socially conscious travellers.

A holiday to the Philippines probably doesn’t top most people’s agendas after the recent Super Typhoon devastated parts of the country. But one of the best ways you can help the country rebuild is by travelling there: the Philippines’ economy relies on tourism, so injecting money into local communities is a great help to people on the ground.

Jessica, Marisol and Richard, three of Makabata Guesthouse & Cafe’s Social Enterprise Youth Associates, at work. Image by Ericsson Agujar / Courtesy of Bahay Tuluyan.

Many parts of the country, including Manila and all major tourism destinations, were untouched by the typhoon. And if you are planning to go, then a few nights at Makabata Guesthouse (www.makabata.org) in central Manila is money well spent. Makabata is run by well respected not-for-profit organisation Bahay Tuluyan (www.bahaytuluyan.org), and all profits go to help children living on the streets of Manila. The organisation has strong links with small groups in typhoon-affected areas and is raising money to support these people with long-term rebuilding.

Makabata Guesthouse is based in Malate, a district of old Manila and home to some famous landmarks including the Manila Yacht Club, Manila Zoo and the charming Roxas Boulevard along Manila Bay. It is also home to some of the Philippines’ poorest people with hundreds of young and old living on the street.

Exterior of Makabata Guesthouse & Cafe, Leveriza St, Malate, Manila. Image by Martin DF / Courtesy of Bahay Tuluyan.

Established in 1987, the grassroots Filipino organisation Bahay Tuluyan works to curb child abuse through services run from its centre in Malate. Thousands of children had been helped to break out of poverty, but in 2008 Bahay Tuluyan also became homeless, losing its base due to a new Manila development in 2008.

Supported by numerous individuals, schools and community groups and by the Planet Wheeler Foundationn (www.planetwheeler.org), construction of a new multi-purpose five-storey complex began in 2010. Built on land purchased by Planet Wheeler, the project was completed in late 2011. A key feature of the new building is the Makabata Guesthouse & Café, a social enterprise where young people are given on-the-job training to help them get into formal employment or education. The first of its kind in the Philippines, young people aged 15-22 entering the program are all out of school or work. In the guesthouse their training includes food and beverage service, customer service and housekeeping. After 12 months of training they are assisted to make the transition into employment or education, or to start their own small business.

A large proportion of graduates from the program have managed to go from being completely dependent on their families to becoming significant contributors. Many of them have secured formal jobs or started tertiary studies. Not only does the guesthouse provide valuable training, it also generates income to support other …read more


 

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