BPI Foundation Inc., in partnership with Philam Foundation’s Paaralan program, recently turned over 12 fully furnished school classrooms in disaster-stricken and under-served areas in the Philippines. The program aims to empower and build the capacity of the youth through education.
In February 2017, four classrooms were turned over to Sta. Monica Elementary School in Coron, Palawan, and Tulariquen Elementary School in Roxas, Palawan. In relocation areas in northern Tacloban, Leyte, eight more classrooms were turned over to B. Bulante Elementary School, Lucio Vivero Memorial School and Camansihay Elementary School. This brings the BPI Build-Back-Better to a total of 30 classrooms for Yolanda-affected areas, of which 12 are in partnership with Philam Foundation and 18 are built solely by BPI Foundation.
Concrete expressions of love and heart
During the turnover ceremony at B. Bulante Elementary School in Tacloban, Geraldine Barsana, Principal, mentioned that the school started with a 200 pupil population. This number is expected to double or triple in the coming school year in June since relocated families have moved from the city to their community after the disaster of Typhoon Yolanda. It is crucial, therefore, to reinforce the capability of schools in providing basic education to more students.
Barsana mentioned that the classrooms were concrete expressions of BPI Foundation and Philam Foundation’s love and heart. “Kayo ang susi para matulungan ang mga bata na mabigyan ng pag-asa para umunlad,” she said. She cited how the students were immensely excited about using the new classrooms, which are furnished with brand new electric fans and adequate lighting—a luxury, apparently, to students in their schools. Most of the old classrooms don’t have proper ventilation and lighting, impeding their learning and interest in the lessons.
Tacloban City Information Officer, Bernardita “Tita Bering” Valenzuela, was also at the turnover Ceremony as a representative of Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez. Tita Bering expressed her gratitude to both corporate foundations for “Even three years after Typhoon Yolanda, you are still here helping us. When the typhoon happened, we fell to our knees. But we did not fall completely flat because of your help.”
Bayanihan for resilience and progress
At both turnover ceremonies in Palawan and Leyte, Faye Corcuera, Executive Director of BPI Foundation expressed the importance of building these classrooms, “We want you to have a place where you can work, aspire, and dream—dream of a better Philippines, dream of a better life,” she said. The capacity of schools to educate students should be prioritized because there is a need to nurture and develop the youth’s bayanihan spirit, and the value of helping others.
Corcuera has always emphasized the significant role of BPI employees and friends in building these classrooms. Without their contributions, which were so wholeheartedly and selflessly given, these classrooms would have not been built. “This generosity is a strong demonstration of the Filipinos’ bayanihan spirit and value of malasakit, which have carried us through challenges and inspired our nation’s resilience,” Corcuera said, “Kung hindi tayo nagtulong-tulong, wala tayo dito ngayon.”
Philam Foundation President Max Ventura echoed the same message at both turnover ceremonies. “‘Pag tulong-tulong, tuloy sa pagsulong,” he said. Through the help of Philam agents, whose contributions and donations were a substantial part of the project, these classrooms were completed and now ready to inspire more learning among the students. Throughout the Philam Paaralan program’s implementation, they have also partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd) and various LGUs. “This collaboration with employees, and different private and public organizations has a big role in making this opportunity happen,” Ventura said.
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