Multi-sector effort to refurbish old facility
For years, students at the Surabay National High School (SNHS) had been using the rooms of an old dilapidated school building that were unsafe and not conducive for learning. When it rained, the ceilings leaked. The walls had cracks. During dry months, the overcrowded rooms were oven-hot. School officials had no choice but to take the risk and let the students bear the inconvenience since the school simply could not afford to put up the needed facilities.
This coming school year, however, students, Subanon and non-Subanon alike, will find a modern school building – a new two-storey eight-classroom structure with adequate ventilation, a new faculty room, and spacious comfort rooms – built from funds donated by the Department of Education (DepEd), the municpal government of R.T. Lim, and TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD).
R.T. Lim Mayor Danilo Piodena (in pink long-sleeved shirt) cuts the ceremonial ribbon signaling the formal turnover of the new two-storey school building (below) of the Surabay National High School to school officials. Assisting him are Yulo Perez, TVIRD vice president for Philippine Operations (in yellow shirt), and Roger Gomez, Sibugay Department of Education Provincial Schools Assistant Superintendent, as well as by other representatives of the local government and the DepEd. Thess Limpin, TVIRD Community Relations and Development Office manager, is at far left.
“If not for their help, we can never have this new school building”, said Edgardo Castro, acting principal of SNHS in Zamboanga Sibugay province. Castro pointed out that 15 to 20 percent of SNHS’ student population are Subanon indigenous people from neighboring barangays (smallest political unit in the Philippines).
“This school building is the first-ever to be built and completed in our province under DepEd’s Secondary Education Development and Improvement Project (SEDIP),” Sibugay DepEd Provincial Schools Assistant Superintendent Roger Gomez, said during formal turnover ceremonies for the new facilities, which formed part of the series of activities for the 25th founding anniversary of R.T. Lim town. “This shows how committed the municipal government is with regard to giving attention to the education needs of our youths, and of course, TVIRD’s sincere commitment to help its impact communities.”
Yulo Perez (above) speaks before citizens of R.T. Lim town: “We just don’t do business here; we are here to bring sustainable social development as well.” Edgardo Castro (below), expresses his gratitude to the his school’s benefactors: If not for their help, we can never have this new school building.”
Under the DepEd SEDIP, schools are granted funds to refurbish its facilities. However, the municipal government needs to raise a 25% counterpart of the total project cost. Since R.T. Lim officials could only contribute the equivalent of 10% of the P8.2 million from the town coffer, they had to seek the help of private entities for the remaining 15%. The municipal drafted a resolution requesting the assistance of TVIRD, which operates a gold-copper mine at Canatuan in Siocon town in adjacent Zamboanga del Norte province. Responsive education being one of the cornerstones of its social development initiatives, TVIRD agreed to donate P1.2 million out of its Social Development and Management Plan fund.
“We are very lucky to have a responsible mining company operating in a nearby town,” R.T. Lim Mayor Danilo Piodena said. “Without TVIRD’s support, this project cannot be realized. R.T.Lim isn’t even the company’s host community nor our town a part of the company’s host province, and yet they extended their help and generosity to us.”
In response, Yulo Perez, TVIRD vice president for Philippine Operations said “this project is not just TVIRD’s project. This is OUR project – a joint venture of compassionate sectors of the society: the government sector thru Mayor Piodena, the academe, and the business sector thru TVIRD. We at TVIRD care for the community where we operate. We just don’t do business here; we are here to bring sustainable social development as well. RT Lim is one of our impact communities and, as such, we are committed to contribute to its progress as best as we can.”
Kristillyn Caf?? (in yellow) and Agnes Albacite: “We don’t have to study in a cramped and rundown room anymore.”
“Nalipay gyud kaayo kami nga naa nami’y nindot ug lami nga school buiding. Dili na kami nagtuon sa huot ug gubaon nga room. Naa na kami karon luag ug limpyo nga room (We are very happy to have such a nice and beautiful school building. We don’t have to study in a cramped and rundown room anymore. Now, we have a spacious and neat room),” said Kristillyn Caf??, 13, who will be in 2nd year high school this June. Her neighbor, Agnes Albacite, was a bit sad that she won’t experience studying in the new school, having graduated from high school last March. But she said she is also glad that those enrolled in her alma matter will be able to enjoy the better learning facilities.
One of the TVIRD’s major social development programs for its host community is to provide quality education to the Subanon indigenous people in the Canatuan ancestral domain. For nearly four years now, the company has been implementing various education programs, including the construction of a daycare center; the building of school rooms for elementary and high school students; the hiring of company teachers to complement the very few teachers assigned by the cash-strapped Department of Education (DepEd) in the area; the implementation of a Functional Literacy Training Program for Adults and Out-of-School Youths; and the holding of leadership and capacity-building training Seminars. TVIRD currently supports 28 scholars under its College Scholarship Grant. (Rene Patangan)