CONCEPCION, Iloilo – Christmas came early for students and teachers of three schools in Concepcion and Janiuay, Iloilo as One Meralco Foundation continues its School Electrification Program for last mile schools in the Philippines. While many Filipinos kick-off the yuletide season at the start of the “ber” months by turning on Christmas lights in their homes, malls and offices, off-grid and other far-flung communities are not able to enjoy the same due to lack of sources of electricity.
In the northern part of Iloilo, some island barangays struggle with stable access to electricity and even communications signals. The residents rely only on some neighbors (or in some cases on the barangay) who have their own diesel generator or a small solar panel to have electricity to power up a single lamp for the night, or a tv or radio. But because gasoline and the generator are expensive, they are forced to limit its operation to only four to five hours per night. As a result, schools in the islands are not usually prioritized by genset owners.
Partnerships to develop
The three schools in Iloilo were even blessed with OMF’s partnership with Lenovo Philippines which donated additional laptops. Earlier in the year, Lenovo reached out to the Foundation after learning that the mission of the school electrification program aligned with Lenovo’s global philanthropy mission of empowering underrepresented populations with access to technology and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education. The project was included in Lenovo’s annual Global Month of Service activity, aiming to help create a digital learning environment for students with smarter technology.
The Lenovo devices were donated to teachers and students on the islands to increase their access to technology. Lenovo employees including Michael Ngan, President and General Manager of Lenovo Philippines volunteered during the school visit and delivered “Balik Eskwela” kits to kindergarten and grade one students in the three schools. The kits included a backpack, a lunchbox, and a tumbler as well as washable face masks, and bottles of alcohol which will help the students as they resume face-to-face classes.
“At Lenovo, we strive to empower communities with technology and opportunity. To bridge the digital divide and fill gaps in our education system, we support mission-aligned organizations like OMF to drive positive impact. With the donated devices, we hope to make a difference in the communities, to improve their way of learning with the innovative products and services we offer”, shares Ngan.
The community launch in Baliguian Elementary School was also attended by local government leaders like Concepcion, Iloilo Mayor Milliard Villanueva, and the Department of Education Province of Iloilo Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Luz Delos Reyes together with the parents-teacher associations and barangay leaders from the beneficiary schools.
OMF has been energizing schools in island and mountain communities in Iloilo since 2016 and has energized 16 so far from the municipalities of Concepcion, Calinog, Carles, Janiuay, Lambunao, and Estancia. Overall, the Foundation has already energized 285 schools throughout the country since the program started in 2012.