“I am not invisible on the internet and have been found by numerous people since PBB started. I have been contacted by fans asking “can I send gifts, can I send money, what can I do to help?” and I answer that “he has a very small condo, he works every day, has almost no time off, he honestly needs and wants nothing other than sleep and time with friends at the moment". Then I tell them, “but we are going to start a foundation soon to help underprivileged and vulnerable children. There is no need to help, he is already so grateful for your support, but if you REALLY want to send something, then please just support the foundation when we announce it.” Then everyone says “tell me as soon as you can, we really want to help”.
But when it comes to money, how can you be sure that you can trust us? Well, not long after Edward entered PBB, I started hearing the words “love team”, “MayWard”, and “fandom”. This was a new world for me. Why would anyone be interested in my son and his family? Then my mum died. I entered the house, told Edward, saw myself with him the next day on the evening broadcast of PBB. Two days later I was a “VIP guest” in the PBB house and met Maymay for the first time. Shortly after that I was in the audience for one of the first Saturday night evictions. When I walked into the room, there was a murmur. I heard “Daddy Kevin” for the first time. Fans of different housemates waved and whispered their condolences. I felt humbled and continue to feel humbled ever since by the interest in me and my family.
Edward never entered PBB to become a showbiz star. He entered to push himself out of his comfort zone, to do the best he could and to learn as much as he could. And the best way to do that was to at least TRY to stay in all the way to the end. Throughout the nomination phase, I saw fans across the world sending money to people they did not know to pay for sim cards and tarps etc. and I thought, "wow! there is so much risk for misunderstanding there". Edward, Maymay and the MayWard movement have been supported so much by people they have never met, sending their hard-earned money to people they did not know to express their support. To all of you across the world – a sincere and heartfelt thank you. When you send money to people you don’t know, because your heart tells you to, and then you hope they will use it in a way you would use it, there is always a risk of misunderstanding. With ELM there is no such risk – if you entrust your donations to ELM, then Maymay, Laura, Edward and I will make sure they are safe and accounted for and you can know what they were used for. That is why at the moment we are only accepting donations by bank transfer, even if it reduces the amount of money we can receive.
There are things happening in the world today which I do not like and I think most people do not like.
The only way I can see to make the world a better place in the future is to ensure that children across the world learn good, clean, positive family values. The ELM Foundation is determined to make the difference!
I know Edward, I know Laura and I know Maymay and I know what good people they are. I have a wish for the MayWard community, but also for everyone who comes together to support the ELM foundation – that in this world of conflict, we, as a community, will be seen as ambassadors for respect and gratitude – the best example to kids across the world!! Because children are our future and only if we show them the right values will they know and LIVE the right values in the years ahead.
ELM's vision is “that the day will come when every child can grow up in a safe environment, with dignity and access to basic education”. But I personally have a second vision. Through PBB and the success and popularity of MayWard, I have become aware of the incredible support of Filipino communities in many countries across the world and in many cases people from these countries have actually contacted me personally. Every country in the world seems to have its own Filipino community and, to be honest, almost every country seems to have a MayWard fandom of some sort.
The fact that I travel to the Philippines over and over again inevitably means I regularly get asked “it’s really dangerous over there, isn’t it?” Whatever the country, the foreign press always picks up on the things that are bad, rarely on the so many more things that are good. So what most people who have never visited the Philippines learn about through documentaries are typhoons, earthquakes, child abuse, drugs, murders and perhaps still a famous lady’s big collection of shoes! They look surprised when I say I have been coming here for over 20 years and have never felt safer than I do today. To me, the expression “developing country” is no longer true, if it ever was, because Filipinos have values, particularly family values, which much of the world can learn a lot from. But still this is a term used by many about a country which has become very dear to my heart.
So my vision for the ELM Tree Foundation 2.0 is – that with the support of the Filipino communities across the world, we will be able to help children not only in the Philippines, but also in those communities, locally, thereby this raising the profile of the Philippines and of each and every Filipino abroad.