It has been over two years since Secretary Dinky Soliman took over at DSWD (Department of Social Welfare & Development). I had the good fortune of meeting her through our current staff in Manila, Cris Bonoan, on a visit in June 2010. We were leading Chris Rebstock of GFN and I received a text from Cris saying we had an opportunity to meet the incoming secretary of DSWD. I jumped at the opportunity and we arranged to meet at the president’s campaign headquarters. Dinky walked in smiling, extended her hand and said, “I’m Dinky… and yes I am.” As anyone who has met her can attest, she is short. But there was nothing lacking in her energy or positive vision for her country.

Signing MOU with DSWD

We sat down and as she spoke she shared about her experience volunteering at a food bank in Boston while studying at Harvard. She shared passionately about her vision of making providing enough food for those at the margins of society. And before she left she gave us her word to continually reach out to us and work with us where possible. Lastly, she gave me her personal cell number and email address. I was astounded because I had never met someone in power who had made themself so accessible.

In the last year I have used that cell number and email address to reach out to Secretary Dinky on several occasions. She always responds to me, quickly and with her trademark signoff, “Sunflower Wishes.” How can you not like someone like this? True to her word of supporting us, she attended the inaugural dinner for the launching of Salu-Salo: Food Bank Philippines on March 27, 2012 and gave the toast. Again, her words reflected her commitment to serving those in need and her support for our efforts to bring food banking to the Philippines.

This October will mark the second signing of an MOU with DSWD. We are now updating our current MOU to include the future work of Salu-Salo: Food Bank Philippines and how we can work closer with the addition of this new entity. MOUs provide an opportunity for all related parties to understand each other’s roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Our current MOU paved the way for us to send 141 tons of aid to the Philippines between October 2011 and April 2012. But our MOU is also an opportunity for the public and other related parties to see our relationship with DSWD and understand where they might fit in bringing food banking to the Philippines. We look forward to continuing our relationship with DSWD.

Charles E. McJilton                
Chair – Second Harvest Asia