The Marsman Drysdale Foundation,Inc.(MDFI) was established on March 17, 1967 to administer and manage the assets left in trust under the last will and testament of Mrs. Mary Marsman and devote its income to scientific, educational and charitable purposes. Through the years, MDFI has faithfully complied with its mandate, expanding its projects from scholarships and donations to genuine community development work including heath care, livelihood and cooperative development, values formation and environmental protection.
The commitment to social responsibility began in the early years of the Marsman’s mining operations in the Cordillera Region, where Mrs. Mary Marsman built schools and provided health care for the miners’ children. Since then, the welfare of Marsman workers and their dependents has been an essential concern of the Group.
The Foundation’s educational scholarships and professorial chairs have benefited numerous talented and deserving Filipinos. Educational grants are given for studies in business, agriculture, pharmacology, theology, journalism and tourism. Since 1999, MDFI has awarded more than 1000 grants and scholarships to MDG employees and their dependents ranging from high school to masteral degrees.At one time, MDFI adopted the Angelicum College-model of non-formal education for prospective scholars who have not finished high school. This program was implemented in four experimental areas and MDG employees take part in this project by tutoring students. An average of 20 learners per year participated in the project.
MDFI initially provided professorial grants for pharmacology in the University of the Philippines - Los Baños(UPLB). As Marsman-Drysdale shifted the bulk of its business to agriculture, food and tourism, MDFI made arrangements with UPLB to reallocate its grants from pharmacology to fields that are in line with its businesses. In 1982, the Foundation published the Guidebook on the Proper Use of Medicinal Plants, in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). The book was donated to public and private organizations all over the Philippines. This project earned the Foundation the coveted Anvil Award in 1984, the highest public relations award given yearly by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines.
Medical and dental missions are undertaken every year by MDFI in Davao del Norte, Guimaras, South Cotabato and other areas where the Group operates. In such missions, MDFI provides free medicines and medical supplies as well as the professional services from doctors, nurses and MDG employee volunteers. This program started in 1999 with the intention of bringing medical and dental services to indigent members of the communities, most of whom could not avail of professional services due to poverty. In that year alone, some 2,500 individuals availed of the medical and dental services. Annually, MDFI conducts no less than 12 medical missions in the different areas where its Agri Group operates. Since its inception, more than25,000 individuals have benefited from these health care projects.
MDFI collaborated with government health workers in launching a Feeding Program in three communities in Polomok, South Cotabato in 1999. Aside from a supplementary feeding activity for 240 malnourished children, their mothers were educated on the proper and inexpensive preparation of nutritious food, care for their children at different stages of development and preparation of infant formula. These same communities had earlier benefited from a Rice Distribution Program in 1998. The Program was intended to help asparagus farm operators and their families overcome the El Niño crisis. This supplemental feeding program for children aged 0 to 6 that was started in Polomok was replicated in the Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley provinces. Since then, the barangays benefiting from the program have constantly been awarded and cited by their provincial nutrition offices for their success in minimizing the incidence of malnutrition in their respective areas. To date, close to 5,000 malnourished children from Polomok, South Cotabato, Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte have become beneficiaries of this feeding program.
In 1996, MDFI began organizing and training members of three multi-purpose cooperatives in South Cotabato and Davao del Norte on the subject of Cooperatives Management. It also provided for the training of community leaders and small landowners in its asparagus farms in South Cotabato to oversee the operations of these cooperatives. In Guimaras, leadership-training programs within the community were held as part of MDFI’s Cooperatives Development Program. Following that, MDFI assisted the Cooperative in securing a loan to start up its operations.
Recognizing the importance of family harmony in the development of communities, MDFI started a series of Marriage Encounter (M.E.) seminars for Marsman employees and their spouses in Davao del Norte in 1995. Since then, around 275 couples from the management and supervisory employees have undergone the program. In 2001, a similar program was initiated for the rank-and-file employees and plantation workers of the company. A program called Suyuan was imported from a Manila-based Catholic community and conducted for a group of 25 couples. At present, 185 workers and their spouses have already taken the program.
As the social development arm of the Marsman Drysdale Group of Companies, the MDFI continues the tradition of social responsibility begun by Mrs. Mary Marsman.