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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

RSA’s heart for nation-building

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SMC’s infrastructure projects have provided employment opportunities, enabling people to support their families and achieve financial security

When Million Trees Foundation, Inc (MTFI) was incorporated in 2021, we envisioned it to be more than an entity that will ensure the sustainability of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Annual Million Trees Challenge started by then MWSS Chairman/Administrator Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco.

We intended it as government partner in pursuing sustainable economic development.

Now, MTFI is on track to meet the objectives its founders set.

It has strengthened partnerships with other organizations that share its advocacy of protecting the

environment and with organizations who are stakeholders in better-managed watersheds.

These were forged with institutional partners MWSS, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, San Miguel Corporation, Maynilad, Manila Water, Manila Water Foundation, Sta. Clara International, Nestle and Grundfos Foundation.

One of MTFI’s partners is Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation, known as Bulacan Bulk Water, an SMC subsidiary.

As we begin another year, MTFI extends good wishes to SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang who celebrated his birthday on Jan. 14.

As one of MTFI’s institutional partners, SMC has contributed to the development and construction of several facilities like the MTFI Executive Lounge and the Million Trees SMC Multi-Purpose and

Eco-Learning Hub called Eddie’s Barn as tribute to the late President Fidel V. Ramos.

SMC has since 2021 endowed MTFI with an annual P5-million financial support to carry out its activities.

This boosts MTFI with its projects, both infrastructure and activity-based especially with the additional grant of 20 more hectares by DENR and MWSS for MFTI’s use.

Projects include construction of a nature walk trail, educational walk trail and amenities, restrooms, seed re-bagging and tree-planting activities.

The MTFI is grateful as this endowment is a testament of closer collaboration.

MTFI recognizes the steps SMC has undertaken to help protect the environment – from tree planting activities, reforestation, coastal clean-up and river rehabilitation. SMC and its subsidiaries have also helped reduce emissions, water use and waste in its business operations.

“I will do more to help our people,” RSA vowed.

The projects of SMC are aimed at revitalizing the economy and addressing the problems that plague the country: hunger, poverty, lack of access to education, unemployment, and lack of infrastructure that hinder faster economic growth.

These are intended to give back to the Filipinos who have contributed to the growth and success of SMC from a purely food and beverage company to become one of the leading diversified conglomerates here.

SMC Foundation, SMC’s socio-civic arm, is responsible for corporate social responsibility projects.

His RSA Foundation has also provided scholarship grants and medical assistance.

I was National Chairman of the TOFIL (Ten Outstanding Filipinos) 2019 Awards Committee when the Board of Judges chaired by then Supreme Court Administrator, now Supreme Court Justice Jose Midas Marquez, chose RSA as one of the awardees.

His contributions to nation-building in business and entrepreneurship were recognized.

Last year, his generosity to the marginalized and love for humanity were recognized when he was named in Forbes Asia’s 2023 list of “Heroes of Philanthropy,” the only Filipino in the list of 15 philanthropists from the Asia-Pacific region.

RSA’s philanthropy was very visible during the pandemic.

SMC’s response involved the mobilization of P13 billion, donation of food packs, disinfectant alcohol, medical equipment and supplies, and waived tool fees for health frontliners.

It was during the pandemic when SMC initiated the Backyard Bukid urban farming project where employees grew their own vegetables for their table or earn extra by selling them to other employees.

Participants cultivate bokchoi, camote, eggplant, kangkong, green lettuce, romaine lettuce, mustard, okra, siling labuyo, pechay, cilantro, winged bean, and kale.

On the Backyard Bukid project, RSA said: “Our goal is to create an environment where our

employees and support staff can learn new skills and gain new experiences to help them become

more resilient and self-sufficient especially in these uncertain times.”

Empowering Filipinos with education and skills is RSA’s key to unlocking the country’s potential.

SMC also established the Better World community centers, the most recent being the Better World Smokey Mountain with its 39 modern classrooms.

SMC’s infrastructure projects have provided employment opportunities, enabling people to support their families and achieve financial security and allowing them to build a hopeful future for themselves and their families.

“This is at the heart of our nation-building,” he said.

(The author is president and executive director of the Million Trees Foundation Inc., a non-profit group advocating tree planting and watershed protection. He is also a book writer and publisher of biographical and coffee table books.)

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