Aboitiz Power Corporation distribution utility Davao Light and Power Co., Inc. (Davao Light) was the Philippine private sector winner of the 6th ASEAN Rural Development and Poverty Eradication Leadership Awards (RDPELA) for the corporate social responsibility programs it conducted with various partners to help enhance the living standards and the quality of life of people within its service area.
The RDPELA is a regular biennial activity of the Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication intended to recognize, encourage, and promote community development and anti-poverty initiatives in the ASEAN member states.
The RDPELA recognized Davao Light’s efforts in helping local cooperatives and associations like Samahan ng may iba’t-ibang Kakayahan sa Dabaw (SAKADAB), as well as establishing technical vocational facilities for the Philippine Department of Education via Project e.Lab.
“We believe that enabling dignified, sustainable livelihoods and providing education and upskilling opportunities open up more doors for our kababayans to get out of poverty,” said Davao Light President and COO Rodger S. Velasco. “Since the Davao region’s poverty incidence is still quite high at 11.9% in 2021, we hope to do our own fair share in getting that number down through our corporate social responsibility initiatives with our partners.”
Davao Light, along with the Aboitiz Group’s social development arm Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Aboitiz Foundation), has been supporting SAKADAB since 2012, starting when Aboitiz employees with other groups and organizations helped build their houses in the Gawad Kalinga community.
Since then, they have been recipients of livelihood materials, equipment, and training meant to build the capability of its differently-abled members and ensure the sustainability of the cooperative.
Help was most critical during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the members of the consumer cooperative bore the brunt of putting food on the table for their respective families amidst great economic uncertainty. Davao Light and Aboitiz Foundation provided support to SAKADAB’s bakeshop business via the donation of baking materials.
The distribution utility also took initiative to upskill SAKADAB members in dressmaking to add to the cooperative’s income-generating projects. As a result, several members received their national certification or NC II in dressmaking from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) after having passed a National Competency Assessment. This deems them ready for work or employment in that endeavor.
SAKADAB also received a sewing business package worth P300,000, which included four sewing machines, as well as other tools, materials, and supplies.
Most recently, the group was gifted with a fully-renovated production facility at the Gawad Kalinga community in Tugbok, Davao City, complete with better lighting, a ventilation system, and additional office equipment for product marketing. The facility will serve as the cooperative’s work and production area for its handicrafts and sewing businesses.
“We are very grateful and we appreciate all the things that you have done just to make our lives comfortable and [our livelihoods] sustainable… using our talents and skills so that in the future, we can stand on our own,” said SAKADAB President Mirasol Magalasin.
To date, a total of 43 high schools were beneficiaries of a fully furnished laboratory for electrical installation and maintenance (EIM) under Davao Light’s Project e.Lab. The project was accomplished with Aboitiz Foundation as part of the advocacy to help nurture young minds and encourage careers in electrical engineering, technical vocational livelihoods and the like.
As these laboratories are enhanced with modern equipment at a quantity that corresponds to the classes’ population, high school students taking up EIM would no longer have to share wiring boards and other tools. As a result, they are able to do more wiring activities, with teachers also able to more accurately assess each individual’s skill and progress.
“It’s a big help and advantage for us. Because of this [facility], our instructor can share actual lectures [while we work], unlike before when we had to take turns since we only had one wiring board,” said Oliver Pepito, a senior high school student from one of the beneficiaries, Biao National High School. “Now, we can simultaneously perform, which enhances our knowledge.”
Project e.Lab enables a hands-on learning environment for students to understand and apply radical electrical installation and maintenance concepts, as well as industry standards of how to mitigate risks, prevent accidents, and maintain quality control in electrical assets.
Ultimately, the facility can help aspirants earn a national certification from TESDA and make them more competitive and technically-proficient professionals.
Future forward: investing in the youth
Rounding out these efforts, Davao Light and Aboitiz Foundation have also been supporting more than a hundred scholars in college throughout the years by providing financial assistance to each beneficiary for their tuition fees, books, uniforms, and miscellaneous expenses.
To date, some of these scholars have become licensed architects; registered civil, mechanical, electrical, and geodetic engineers; nutritionists; and professional teachers.
“We [had] different struggles [and] different stories, but we ended up [in] the same [place] and it’s the success we have achieved [and recognize] today. Davao Light and Aboitiz Foundation have helped each one of us… they literally gave light to our future,” said Jonas Meneses, a Davao Light scholar and an architecture board exam passer, during a get-together kamustahan session.
“We are very grateful to hear stories of you supporting yourselves, your families, and your communities through your professions after we have supported your education. You have embodied the aspirations of Davao Light’s scholarship program,” Velasco of Davao Light told the scholars during the same event.
The scholarship program is in line with the fourth Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations, which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Davao Light’s nomination for the 6th RDPELA originated from the endorsement of the Philippines’ Department of Education – XI and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). The country was tasked to nominate two candidates, with the other being a non-governmental or civil society organization.
On its website, the NAPC indicated that it will coordinate with ASEAN RDPELA winners and its partners “to explore possible avenues to advocate, replicate, scale up, imbue, or mainstream the winners’ successes into government programs or policies.”
In receiving the award at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore, Davao Light was among the Philippine delegation led by NAPC Secretary Lope Santos III that attended the Official Dinner of the 13th ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication or AMRDPE.
ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a political and economic union composed of the countries Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
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