BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—The government-approved Didipio mine has spent more than P8 million in the last few months on education initiatives under its Leadership Enhancement and Attitude Development or LEAD program.
Chito Gozar, OceanaGold Philippines Inc.’s vice president for external affairs, said that since 2007, before the mine’s commercial operation in 2013, the Didipio miner had started funding education-related programs for its host communities.
“The program we have helped fund is designed to give residents of our host communities the opportunity to improve their education, and equip them with the tools needed for further learning,” Gozar said.
He said the P8 million is in addition to almost P100 million worth of school buildings and facilities in the host village of Didipio and its adjacent communities in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya and in Cabarroguis, Quirino province.
Gozar said OceanaGold’s LEAD program is in collaboration with Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc., a not-for profit organization that aims to improve its scholars’ leadership potential.
The LEAD program will provide opportunities for OceanaGold’s sponsored university scholars to develop life skills that will help them perform better in school or university, develop responsible behavior, and prepare them to become working adults and team players, Gozar said.
Rommel Yogyog who is from a community downstream of Didipio, is one of those who participated in the first batch of the LEAD training.
Yogyog served as president of the Association of OceanaGold Scholars for three years while enrolled at the College of Forestry of Nueva Vizcaya State University here, until he finished his education in 2015, also the year he passed the licensure examination for foresters.
Yogyog joined a local office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the province under the National Greening Program, and now currently works in the agency’s Watershed Management Program.
“Without the scholarship program, I could not have completed my university education, as resources were scarce for our big family, with our income coming from subsistence farming,” Yogyog said.
He said the LEAD training enabled him to set and attain his goal of working with the DENR.
“The insights I picked up from the LEAD training came in very handy particularly in working with a team of diverse backgrounds and in addressing issues in the work place. I still occasionally refer to my LEAD workshop outputs which I have kept to this day,” he added.
David Way, general manager of the Didipio mine, said investment in education initiatives is an integral component of the company’s sustainable development program.
At OceanaGold, Way said, their practice is more than providing for the education of residents in host villages.
“We incorporate leadership skills in our programs while educating our scholars’ core ethical values and standards of behavior, which increases their chances of employability in the future,” Way said.