An investment for a tribe’s future


TVIRD launches college scholarship grant for poor Subanons

Elmer Neri once studied at a university in Zamboanga City. Coming from a poor family, he took his studies seriously. He dreamt of one day graduating from college, finding a decent job, and helping support his family. With five children to support, Elmer’s father was hard up making both ends meet with his meager income as a contractual carpenter. One day, Elmer’s dreams were shattered; he had to quit college due to insurmountable financial constraints.

Elmer Neri, a former TVIRD employee and now a Company scholar speaks his mind: TVIRD will not be here in Canatuan forever, but with a college degree, I will have a more promising future ahead of me and my family.”

Shortly after dropping out of school, the young Subanon was accepted as a welder under the Mill Maintenance Department of TVI Resource Development Philippines (TVIRD), which operates a gold-silver mine in his village. It was there where his fortunes turned for the better.

As part of its social commitment initiatives in its host community, TVIRD, through its Community Relations and Development Office (CReDO), recently launched a Subanon College Scholarship Program for deserving but financially incapable young residents from the various impact barangays within the Canatuan ancestral domain. Billed “Education with Integrity,” the scholarship grant also seeks to promote values formation among its beneficiaries.

A Subanon youth and her parent sign the MOA outlining the Code of Conduct for TVIRD scholars. The Company now sends a total of 36 students to school.

Remarkably, Elmer emerged as one of the six qualifiers to the program, with full scholarship status, after he passed the entrance examinations held at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in Zamboanga City. Thirteen other Subanons passed a similar examination at the Jose Rizal Memorial State College in Siocon town. Full scholars are entitled to a maximum of P6,000 in tuition fees per semester, a semestral allowance for board and lodging, as well as book allowance.

Last June 2, all 19 Subanon-beneficiaries, together with their respective parents, attended the launching of, and orientation program for, the scholarship grant held at the TVIRD Clubhouse within the Company premises in Canatuan. A Memorandum of Agreement, which outlines a code of conduct that scholars must observe, was inked between the scholars and their parents on one hand, and Company representatives on the other.

“I will never forget and waste this second chance that TVIRD has given me,” Elmer said. “I promise to live up to the expectations of the Company as its scholar, and observe the code of conduct with utmost integrity. My profoundest gratitude to the Company for giving us Subanons a chance to have a brighter future. Thank you very much!

“Although I have a regular job in the Company, I have decided to pursue my studies so that I will become a more productive member our community and to be more successful in life. TVIRD will not be here in Canatuan forever, but with a college degree, I will have a more promising future ahead of me and my family,” he added.

TVIRD Canatuan GM Magi Bagayao to the scholars: Even after our operations here have long ceased, TVIRD will always be around through all of you.

TVIRD Canatuan General Manager Magi Bagayao – himself a member of an indigenous tribe from the Mountain Province in Northern Philippines and a government scholar in his college days – encouraged the Subanon scholars to study hard as he congratulated them for making it through the grant’s stringent screening process.

“When I was a scholar myself, I tried my best and did my part. Otherwise I would not have been able to finish my studies and succeed in life. If you have problems, voice it out… Even after our operations here have long ceased, TVIRD will always be around through all of you. That would make us proud, for you will be one of our fruitful investments,” Bagayao said.

The addition of the 19 new scholars, brings to 36 the total number of Subanon youths being sent to school by TVIRD. The other 17 scholars are funded under the Company’s Social Development and Management Program (SDMP).

Elmer Neri will be taking up a mechanical engineering course at WMSU this semester. If he finishes his studies and passes the licensure examinations about six years from now, he just might come back to TVIRD to occupy a more responsible post than the one he has just left. (Rene Patangan)

TVIRD CReDO Manager Thess Limpin (center, in checkered blouse) and staff join the `class picture’ of the Company’s new scholars.