Friday, May 15, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]
By Rene Martel
DISPLAYING its corporate social responsibility credentials, Smart Communications deployed two teams to the just concluded Gawad Kalinga (GK) 1MB Bayani Challenge in Zamboanga and Sulu that saw more than 800 volunteers from all walks of life coming together to build homes for fellow Filipinos and carry out the GK mission of nation building.
Of the 51 GK build teams that participated in the weeklong activity, the country’s leading wireless services provider and longtime GK supporter and two teams were composed of faculty and staff from partner universities Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) and Universidad de Zam-boanga (UZ) and employee-volunteers from Smart’s Zamboanga office.
The theme of the 4th GK1MB Bayani Challenge was “Aqui na Zamboanga: Mi casa es tu casa! (Here in Zamboanga: My house is your house)” for Zamboanga and “Only for the brave” in Sulu. The target was to build 62 houses for the Tulun-gatung resettlement site in Zam-boanga and 30 houses for Panglima Estino in Sulu.
Zamboanga-based Smart employee-volunteers from Customer Care, Network Platform and Services Division, Sales and Distribution, and Retail Merchandising joined the house build activity in Tulungatung. A first for the Smart employees in Zamboanga, the Bayani Challenge turned out to be a memorable experience for them.
“When I found out that there will be a GK event in Zamboanga and that Smart is a sponsor, I was really happy and I just had to join. It was a good experience, especially since it’s the first time we had a house build. As an employee, it feels good to know that we are not just about sales, but about community service as well,” said sales officer Thelma Alvarez.
The employee-volunteers were up to the task of completing the day’s target, even with the rain that made the work muddy and even more backbreaking. “The work was physically challenging and demanding, but it gave me a sense of social awareness, a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement by joining Gawad Kalinga,” shared Smart Customer Care’s Ching Muin.
This is the fourth time that Smart participated in the GK Bayani Challenge. Last year, volunteer teams were deployed to join the Bayani Challenge in Bukidnon. Smart also sent volunteer teams to participate in the 2006 and 2007 Bayani Challenge held in Southern Leyte and Bicol, respectively.
With the support of Smart, teams from ADZU and UZ also participated in the activity. Both universities have an existing partnership with Smart through the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP), an industry-academe partnership program aimed at helping raise the level of technology and engineering education in the country.
The two teams joined other build teams in the 42-hectare Tulungatung resettlement site, a village west of the city. Volunteer builders came from various parts of the country and from Australia and Singapore, as well.
For five days, the volunteers busied themselves with the construction of the houses. Unmindful of neither the heat nor the rain, the volunteers carried on with their daily task, which included digging to prepare the structure’s foundation, transporting cement bags and hollow blocks, cement mixing, among others.
The GK Village in Sulu is the eighth village adopted by PLDT, Smart and the PLDT-Smart Foundation. Together with its parent company and PLDT Group corporate social responsibility arm PLDT-Smart Foundation, Smart made the commitment to adopt one more GK village.
“Smart is glad to support the 4th GK Bayani Challenge. The adoption of a new PLDT-Smart Amazing GK Village is a sign of our commitment to continue our partnership with Gawad Kalinga. This is the second Gawad Kalinga Village of PLDT, Smart and PSF in Mindanao. The other village is in Camp Abubakar in Ma-guindanao,” said Smart Public Affairs Group Head Mon Isberto.