Better, more inspiring news
Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2017 - 4:00pm

It would indeed be more encouraging and uplifting if we focus on subjects other than the current events, activities and affairs of the present government especially because so much self-serving, fake and derogatory news are now coming out. There are really many other items worth writing about particularly on projects and programs being undertaken by the private sector with great social impact. 

Among these organizations that has long been implementing projects in the areas of health, education, arts and livelihood (HEAL), is the Metrobank Foundation Inc. (MBFI), a grant-giving organization established in 1979 whose advocacy is mainly centered on nation-building by contributing relevant and lasting solutions to development issues facing the country now. MBFI is undertaking these projects in partnership with select non-governmental organizations particularly the GT Foundation Inc. (GTFI), the family foundation of Metrobank Group founder and chairman, Dr. George S.K. Ty.

When the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016, MBFI and GTFI reviewed and updated their grants priorities to make them more responsive to the increasing needs of the various sectors they are serving. MBFI and GTFI will now pursue the implementation of longer term and higher-impact projects that will benefit the marginalized and less fortunate sectors of our society.

Among the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which are relevant and will provide lasting solutions to the development issues facing the country by the year 2030 are: (1) eradicating extreme poverty in all its forms for all people everywhere especially those living in less than $1.25 a day so that the proportion of men, women and children living in poverty will be reduced at least by half. The goal likewise includes the reduction of the poor people’s exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and to other economic, social, and environmental shocks and disasters; (2) ending hunger and ensuring access by the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round by doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers particularly women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, and fishers through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for non-farm employment; (3) ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages by putting an end to the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and by combating hepatitis, and other communicable diseases as well as by strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol; (4) ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities by providing all girls and boys access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education, complete free, equitable and quality primary, secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes and by building and upgrading educational facilities that are child disability and gender sensitive under a safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all; and (5) promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation and focus on high-value added and labor intensive sectors.

As development organizations, MBFI and GTFI have also aligned themselves to these UN Sustainable Development Goals through its various “Grants Programs” all over the country beginning 2016 with priority areas in the National Capital Region (NCR), Eastern Visayas and Mindanao, especially the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Region XII better known as SOCCSKSARGEN.

The projects they are supporting and/or undertaking are the livelihood projects that will end poverty and achieve zero hunger. These include the development of small and micro agro-enterprises and micro-financing. The initial sample project they have supported is the training of 200 artisans at the Artisan Academy which involves values formation sessions and lessons on weaving, sales and marketing, and customer relations.

The Grants have also supported the promotion of quality education through construction of buildings and classrooms, scholarships for identified and special cases as well as for Senior High School in technical-vocational track and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They have also supported the construction and equipping of some STEM laboratories and in the provision of physical access to education for teachers and student. Sample projects they have supported in this regard are providing students from Guian, Eastern Samar and Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon who walk for miles going to school, with bicycles and helmets. The beneficiaries were likewise given bicycle safety lessons. Among the legacy projects they have already undertaken are the construction of the “Arete” creative arts building in Ateneo de Manila University and the Clean Room at the De La Salle University Science and Technology Complex in Binan City, Laguna.

MBFI and GTFI have also supported art education and rehabilitation of cultural heritage particularly the summer arts workshop for children with special needs in Muntinlupa with the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Network of Winners (MADE NOW) and the ArtPsych Circle.

In the area of health and sanitation the Grants have supported the construction and installation of water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) facilities in public elementary schools. So far a total of 23 teachers have already trained on WASH practices. The other health projects are the construction or rehabilitation of and/or assistance to Barangay health centers in far flung areas.  They have likewise conducted medical missions and provided mobile clinics therein. A sample project in sanitation is the installation of the “Aqua Tower”, a water filtration system providing potable water for 552 students and residents in Lapinig Northern Samar. In times of calamities, the Grants have also assisted in the evacuation of victims and the repair of damaged classrooms and Barangay health stations.

Undoubtedly all these projects will provide a shining light to the Non-Governmental Organization partners of MBFI and GFTI as well as inspire other NGOs and groups to work with them in uplifting the lives of our countrymen. These are activities that merit more media attention than the grandiose plans and programs of government which are subjects of glowing press releases even if they are still in the drawing boards.


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