Working together for a better tomorrow

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak - The Philippine Star

While it is undoubtedly true that you have to look to the past to learn about the future – the focus should remain on the way forward. We need to remind ourselves of that now as we continue to try to recover from the pandemic, uplift the lives of Filipino citizens, and hopefully carve out a more productive and inclusive way forward. After all, as I’ve said before, things shouldn’t be about simply going back to the way things were, but improving and building a better and more sustainable future for all.

Alongside the investments and changes the government must make in the country moving forward, is the positive impact the business community can make too. Private corporations have always participated in community-focused projects, and now, more than ever, the country can benefit from the nation-building efforts of the private sector. Whether it’s training and development opportunities, job creation, investments in building infrastructure, or programs to help boost economic recovery – companies can help make a positive difference.

One of the companies continuing to do that is San Miguel Corp. (SMC). Headed by businessman and philanthropist Ramon S. Ang, the company has continuously launched programs to help the country and the people. During the pandemic, they were constantly present to find ways to distribute food and essential goods, and help those in need with their daily needs. As we try to move forward, they continue their plans and investments to help improve lives and bolster the country.

Recently, RSA bared SMC’s nation-building plans and ideas on how we can improve as we move forward. While he often tends to avoid the publicity, it’s always insightful to hear his ideas on the steps we can take now that will yield positive results down the line. At the end of the day, while there are problems, there are still opportunities. We need to focus on what we can do rather than what’s stopping us.

One of the significant projects SMC has been working on is its massive aerocity development in Bulacan province. RSA once again ensured Filipinos of SMC’s commitment to complete this development alongside the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) to help boost the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic. The project, which is fully funded by SMC, will help boost tourism and create quality jobs and opportunities for Filipinos nationwide.

The NMIA project is set to initially feature four parallel runways, an impressive world-class terminal, and an interlinked infrastructure network, including expressways and railways. It is designed with sustainability in mind and supports RSA’s vision of a modern Philippine city that provides built-in solutions to the country’s environmental, climate, and socio-economic issues.

RSA also shared his thoughts on how to address electricity costs and agriculture. For the former, he recommends adopting battery storage technology to charge off-peak hours and load stored capacities to the grid as needed. If we can create a small surplus, this should help drive electricity costs down. In addition, we must continue to explore renewable energy solutions to help meet the country’s energy needs.

As for agriculture, the government should also help modernize and elevate farming for farmers alongside subsidies. A more concentrated effort to develop suitable lands to farm and implement and utilize modern farming technologies will help increase yield and make farming more efficient. A focus on creating new plantations must be made in the various regions in the country. For their part, SMC is focusing on developing their food businesses for sale and export using locally sourced inputs.

These investments in the Philippines, alongside government plans and programs, are the company’s way of investing in building a better tomorrow and a stellar example of what we can do if we work together. If we all focus on creating solutions and finding better ways to move forward, we can definitely build a more sustainable future.

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I touched on it previously, but digital literacy and responsibility remain a real issue for Filipinos, and a problem pointed out by the incoming head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. The pandemic pushed everyone online, and while it worked to help keep businesses and learning going, many Filipinos migrated without knowing the basic safety rules of being a digital citizen.

With everything online, so many Filipinos are far too trusting and falling for various online scams such as financial fraud, phishing, identity theft, misinformation, and – worst of all – child exploitation and online trafficking. These problems aren’t going to go away, and working online will remain a vital part of life in the future. Something needs to be done to better prepare Filipinos to deal with these digital issues.

The plan of the incoming DICT chief to include more information and education on digital literacy at all levels is an important one that should be pursued. This is something taught in most private companies and will benefit kids as they learn to navigate both the physical and digital world. Not only will having basic digital literacy skills help give kids a leg-up in a tech-driven market and industry, but it will also help keep them safe.

Creating a digital literacy learning program will require the DICT to work closely with the Department of Education to craft learning modules and properly train teachers and staff, but it’s something worth investing in. In the future, everyone will benefit.


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