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PLDT, PBSP build schools with used batteries

By Philippine Business for Social Progress
December 12, 2012

CEBU CITY  –  Used batteries can build classrooms, and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) proves this to be true when it recently turned over classrooms in the far-off schools of Northern Samar, which were built through the donation of its used lead acid batteries (ULABs).

By donating their ULABs to Motolite, which buys them at a higher price, PLDT was able to generate P3.4 million for the construction of four classrooms, benefiting 513 pupils in Bangkerohan Elementary School and Nenita Central School.

This is the winning formula of the Balik-Baterya Program by Motolite and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), an initiative that has helped companies properly recycle their ULABs so they could be converted to useful materials. The funds raised from the donated ULABs are then used for various projects that help improve the state of education in the country.

“We in the private sector recognize the role of our children and youth in shaping the future of our country and our planet, hence we help our government reach its goal of providing better education by building classrooms and helping improve our public schools and communities,” PLDT Community Relations Senior Manager Evelyn del Rosario shared during the turnover events with PBSP, Department of Education and the provincial government of Northern Samar.

Northern Samar Governor Paul Daza, on the other hand, urged the pupils and teachers to show their appreciation of PLDT’s donation by making good use of the classrooms.

“You are lucky that out of 24 towns and 569 barangays, you were chosen to receive these classrooms because the barangay officials, teachers, principals and parents are active, which will assure our donors that the classrooms will be used properly,” he said.

Early Christmas present

For sixth grader Steven Elad Francisco, PLDT's visit to their school is the best early Christmas present he has ever received.

His classroom, located to the farthest corner of Bangkerohan Elementary School, is the most affected when storms upset their regular classes. When flooding is really strong, he reveals, the water level reaches up to their upper knees, preventing them from even sitting on their desks.

“With the new classrooms, I know the pupils before me will not experience what we have to endure almost every month,” Francisco shared, who is expected graduate this school year.

In Nenita Central School, teachers had to handle 21 classes in 17 classrooms, which them to conduct classes in makeshift rooms that are not conducive to learning.

“We are so grateful to have these classrooms that will help us reach our vision, which is to cater basic quality education to our pupils who will become productive citizens of our nation,” Nenita Central School Principal Brenda Villadolid said.

The four classrooms donated to Northern Samar will be used by 383 first and second graders of Bangkerohan Elementary School and 139 grade three pupils of Nenita Central School. Each classroom is provided with arm chairs, teacher’s tables and a comfort room. Aside from the classroom, the project also includes a training component to help build the capacities of the parents and teachers’ associations so they could easily perform their roles and function.

“May your new classrooms encourage you to study harder so that someday you would become good citizens of Northern Samar and our country,” del Rosario told the pupils.

“If we really wanted to help our people, especially those in the impoverished areas, the best way is through education. By giving them education, we help them easily uplift their lives,” Governor Daza added.

Always on top

Launched in 2006, the Balik-Baterya Program aims to protect the environment through proper disposal and recycling of ULABs as well as improve the learning of pupils.

PLDT joined the program in 2008 and has then become its top donor with the company’s donations comprising 77% of the program’s total ULAB contributions. Through its donations, the company has already provided 22 mini-libraries and two computer laboratories to various schools in the Visayas.

PLDT is also the first company under the Balik-Baterya program that chose to use its funds to build classrooms.

“We in PLDT contribute to national development by strengthening our country’s telecommunications as an important foundation for a progressive country. In line with our business of bridging people and communities here and abroad, we chose education as a major corporate social responsibility program because we acknowledge that more opportunities can be accessed by children and youth who have completed their basic education,” del Rosario said.

She also hopes that the classrooms donated will help address the country’s need for 66,800 new classrooms.

“With PBSP, we are able to build classrooms in far flung communities where help is most needed,” del Rosario added.

“The classrooms that we are turning over today may be quite few if we look at the thousands of classrooms that need to be constructed for our public schools. However, this is already a big step here in your community and we in PBSP express our gratitude to PLDT, most especially to its chairman, Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan and its community relations head, Ms. Evelyn del Rosario, for your continuing partnership with PBSP in your corporate social responsibility initiatives,” PBSP Visayas Regional Center Director Jessie Cubijano stated.