Saturday, February 19, 2011

Old, used batteries give life to learning centers

Old, used batteries give life to learning centers
By Cris Evert Lato
Inquirer Visayas
February 19, 2011

DAGOHOY, BOHOL, Philippines—How does one company build learning resource centers (LRCs) out of used lead acid batteries (ULABs)?

The process is pretty simple: Donate the ULABs and Motolite buys it for a higher price. The money is then used to fund LRCs with the assistance of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

This is how Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Co. (PLDT) was able to generate P880,000, which was used to fund the establishment of 22 learning resource centers in remote areas in the Visayas.

“The learning resource centers have books, which are waiting for you to read. You also have chairs and a table which you can use while reading,” PLDT senior community relations manager Evelyn del Rosario told pupils of Barangay San Miguel Elementary School here during a turnover ceremony last month.

On its marathon distribution to six schools in Bohol, Del Rosario told teachers to allow the students to make use of the books. “Let them wear these out. We will give books again,” she said in Filipino.

PBSP executive director Rafael Lopa encouraged the pupils to take their studies seriously so they could help in the country’s development.

“What we are giving you is just a small thing compared to what you need to do. It is important that you listen to your teachers and study your lessons because you are the hope of the country. Dili pwede ang tapulan (Laziness is not allowed),” Lopa said.

Thirst for books
It was like a fiesta at Malitbog Elementary School when representatives from PLDT, PBSP, Motolite and the Department of Education arrived.

The schoolchildren offered dance numbers and the teachers prepared lechon (roasted pig) and native dishes for lunch.

During the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, the children rushed on-stage after Del Rosario promised to read them a story.

At Caluasan Elementary School, the farthest barangay from San Miguel town, the children shouted “Naana gyud, naana gyud (Here they are),” upon seeing the guests.

“We don’t have a cabinet full of books. It will be good to have one, read them and see the pictures,” said 8-year-old Ella Mae Canares.

Jessie Cubijano, PBSP Visayas officer-in-charge, said excited faces always greeted them in the LRC turnovers. Most of the children only saw libraries in pictures, he said.

About 30 minutes by van from Barangay Caluasan, 260 children painted the entire Cambangay Norte Elementary School with bright colors. They wore yellow shirts and waved small red and electric blue flags.

Classmates Harold Ebo and Kim Puracan said they were hoping to read more books to enrich their knowledge.

They both love the classic story “Tipaklong at Langgam,” which taught them the essence of studying harder to fulfill their dreams. Harold wants to become a seaman while Puracan dreams of being a policeman.

For the environment
Launched in 2006, the Motolite-PBSP Balik-Baterya program aims to achieve two results.

One is to protect the environment by properly disposing and recycling ULABs which may potentially poison the soil. The other is to improve learning by giving books to pupils, training the teachers and holding remedial reading camps.

“This donation (of LRC) is just the start. We will upgrade the skills of the teachers the soonest possible time,” said Noly Cayabyab, corporate social responsibility head of Oriental and Motolite Marketing Corp.

Cayabyab cited the initiative as an example of a private-public partnership—a program which is also being pushed by the Aquino administration.

The Balik-Baterya program is also being undertaken in cooperation with the DepEd, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Philippine Recyclers Inc.

Eight of the 22 LRCs turned over are in Cebu, three in Iloilo, six in Bohol and five in Samar.

Each center is worth P40,000, Cubijano said. It takes 170 ULABs to generate P40,000.

Ninety-two percent of the ULABs were donated by the top 200 corporations in the country, while 77 percent of total donations came from PLDT and Smart.