Community Events Feature

Faithful spread devotion in Sto. Niño exhibit at Ayala Center Cebu

More than 40 images of the Sto. Niño are on exhibit at Ayala Center Cebu in time for the celebration of the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City.

The display showcases curated images of the Child Jesus in different representations but mostly as the Sto. Niño de Cebu.

Community Feature Tech

Cisco highlights disaster response, management solution

Drawing from lessons its TacOps response team learned during Typhoon Yolanda, Cisco has made available a response and management solution that taps its various technologies to innovate disaster response and management.

The product is Cisco KONEKTADO, an end-to-end solution that enables easy and effective collaboration and communication before, during, and after a disaster such as a strong typhoon.


3 Cebu schools benefit from Visayan Electric’s Project E-lab

Three schools offering the Senior High course Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM) in Metro Cebu—Abellana National School, Mandaue City Comprehensive NHS and Naga City NHS—received refurbished laboratories under the Aboitiz Foundation and Visayan Electric’s Project E-lab.

Business Community

Vivant Energy subsidiary bags contract to supply power to Bantayan

A subsidiary of Vivant Energy Corporation has been chosen to supply 15 megawatts (MW) of net dependable capacity to Bantayan Island, a major tourist destination in northern Cebu.

Following a competitive selection process, the Bantayan Electric Cooperative (BANELCO) awarded a 15-year power supply contract to the consortium of Vivant Integrated Diesel Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivant Energy, and Gigawatt Power Inc. To ensure availability of dependable power, the installation and operation of a 23-MW power plant in the island will be undertaken by the consortium.

The supply contract expands Vivant Energy’s capacity in off-grid small power utilities group (SPUG) sector.


Vivant Foundation gives science lab equipment to 3 Cebu schools

Vivant Foundation Inc. (VFI) has turned over science laboratory equipment to two public schools in Mandaue City and one in Cebu City.

VFI, the corporate social responsibility arm of publicly listed company Vivant Corporation, donated one set of science laboratory equipment to Mandaue City Science High School, Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School (MCCNHS) and Mabolo (Cebu City) National High School.

The foundation also shouldered the training of the science teachers of all three schools on the use of the donated equipment, which are meant to improve the learning of chemistry, physics, biology and robotics.

EMPOWERING THE YOUTH. Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella (2nd from right) and Mabolo National High School principal (2nd from left) thank Vivant Foundation, represented by its executive director Shem Garcia (right), for donating various science laboratory tools and equipment to the school. During the turnover last Aug. 19, Mayor Labella and Department of Education officials saw the donation, which aims to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Also present during the turnover were Bianito Dagatan, Department of Education Cebu City Division superintendent, and lawyer Jess Garcia (4th from right) of Vivant Corporation.

EMPOWERING THE YOUTH. Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella (2nd from right) and Mabolo National High School principal (2nd from left) thank Vivant Foundation, represented by its executive director Shem Garcia (right), for donating various science laboratory tools and equipment to the school. During the turnover last Aug. 19, Mayor Labella and Department of Education officials saw the donation, which aims to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Also present during the turnover were Bianito Dagatan, Department of Education Cebu City Division superintendent, and lawyer Jess Garcia (4th from right) of Vivant Corporation.

Improve STEM education

“Vivant is a company that is forward-looking and adaptable and we believe that improving STEM (science, education, engineering and mathematics) education will help our public schools produce graduates who will support our mission to provide solutions to a changing world,” VFI Executive Director Shem Jose Garcia said.

During the turnover at MCCNHS, Garcia announced that VFI will also refurbish classrooms that are currently used for science classes into fully functioning STEM laboratories.

Mabolo National High School principal Dr. Rosemarie Novabos said that teaching science effectively requires more than textbooks and classroom lectures.

IN MANDAUE. Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes (center) vows to use his authority to promote education for the city’s youth and thanks Vivant Foundation, represented by its executive director Shem Garcia (5th from right), for donating various science and laboratory tools and equipment to the Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School. Also present at the turnover ceremony last Aug. 20 were MCCNHS principal Marilou Mabansag (2nd from right), Mandaue City Councilor Malcolm Sanchez (2nd from left), Department of Education officials, and Ramontito Garcia (6th from right) and lawyer Jess Garcia (4th from right), both of Vivant Corporation.

IN MANDAUE. Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes (center) vows to use his authority to promote education for the city’s youth and thanks Vivant Foundation, represented by its executive director Shem Garcia (5th from right), for donating various science and laboratory tools and equipment to the Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School. Also present at the turnover ceremony last Aug. 20 were MCCNHS principal Marilou Mabansag (2nd from right), Mandaue City Councilor Malcolm Sanchez (2nd from left), Department of Education officials, and Ramontito Garcia (6th from right) and lawyer Jess Garcia (4th from right), both of Vivant Corporation.

Make students more competitive

“The laboratory equipment can offer great opportunities to the students in learning science through hands-on experiences. The donation from Vivant will help the students become more competitive,” she said during the turnover last Aug. 19.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes thanked Vivant Foundation for the assistance to the schools and for helping improve the future of the youth in their areas. The two mayors were present during the separate turnovers at MCCNHS and Mabolo National High School.

Apart from donating science lab equipment and training teachers, VFI also supports the annual Regional Science and Technology Fair (RSTF) of the Department of Education. The corporate foundation picks an RSTF participant as recipient for its college scholarship, a program that it launched this year. (Press Release)


Eager Cebu seniors are newest ‘Millenniors’

From north to south, Cebu youth are coming together to make sure that Cebu’s seniors are keeping up with the changing times

Nanay Miliang of Colawin, Argao stood out in more ways than one. Apart from being the oldest learner in the room, she also had the most interesting companion—where other lolas had their small grandchildren in tow, Nanay Miliang’s companion was her four-legged guardian, a 9-year-old dog named Tanduay.

Already 82, Nanay Miliang’s age did not stop her from energetically participating in a recent Smart Millenniors session held in their barangay.

Smartphones, social media, internet safety

Ever faithful, Tanduay stayed by Nanay Miliang throughout the session. Together, they listened to the lecturers as they shared their knowledge about smartphones, social media and internet safety. They even participated in icebreakers side by side.

Smart Millenniors session

Nanay Miliang, 82, with her dog Tanduay d Smart Millenniors session in Colawin, Argao.

“I’m happy to have learned all these things, but I admit I still have more studying to do when I get home,” she said after the session.

Nanay Miliang and 60 other senior citizens from Sts Peter and Paul Parish in Bantayan Island, and from Colawin and neighboring barangays in Argao joined the recent runs of the Smart Millenniors Program in Cebu.

Video calls, online shows

During the sessions, the elders were paired up with youth volunteers from their communities, who assisted them as they became more familiar and comfortable with smartphones and social media platforms like Facebook.

The volunteers, who were from the Sts Peter and Paul Parish Youth Coordinating Council and the Colawin National High School, also taught the seniors how to do video calls in chat apps like Messenger, as well as how to watch shows online via video streaming services like YouTube.

Nanay Miliang, 82, is one of the oldest participants in the Argao session. She and her fellow seniors learned more about smartphones, social media and internet safety during the session.

Nanay Miliang, 82, was one of the oldest participants in the Argao session. She and her fellow seniors learned more about smartphones, social media and internet safety during the session.

In Bantayan, participant Marilyn Negapatan, a retired teacher from Bantayan National High School, was all smiles at the end of the session.

“I started with only a little knowledge, but thanks to this program, I was able to enrich myself,” said Negapatan, who was joined by churchmates and fellow chapel leaders. “I learned a lot and enjoyed while at it, too.”

More connected

In Colawin, the excited seniors trooped to the Colawin National High School (CNHS) to learn from their teachers–digital-savvy senior high school students of CNHS.

Last year, Smart fired up a Long Term Evolution (LTE) site in Colawin. Since then, the once quiet and remote barangay has seen big changes as it became more connected to the rest of the country and the world, with families growing closer, and students performing school tasks better.

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., a native of Colawin and a ‘millennior’ himself, dropped by the session to address fellow seniors. “Technology has made the world smaller, because it brings people closer through connectivity,” he said. “I encourage all of you to learn as much as you can during the program, and to use technology for good.”

The seniors, who mostly had children now living away from them, expressed how much they wanted to learn and keep abreast with technology. “We don’t want to be left behind,” they said.

The youth volunteers teamed up with Smart employee volunteers in facilitating the whole-day training sessions. “I feel overwhelmed. I realize now that I know how to teach,” shared Colawin student Joana Kristelle Albeos.

Smart Millenniors. Seniors from Colawin and neighboring barangays in Argao, Cebu are the latest addition to the growing ranks of tech-savvy Smart Millenniors.

Her classmate Lessly Jyn Orbeta, on the other hand, was more excited about teaching her own grandmother at home. “I am very happy that Smart came back to our school. I am very excited to teach my grandma as well,” said Orbeta, who grew up with her lola, but is currently living away from her. “I can’t wait to see her again and teach her all of this,” she added.

Bring communities together

Cebu-based Smart employee Kenneth Asuncion was among the volunteer lecturers. “It’s heartwarming to do something that has a direct impact to people. This is proof that technology can really bring communities together,” he said, adding that making seniors aware about online scams and identity theft on the internet is important, too.

Aside from the lectures, the group also engaged in an interactive game on internet safety concepts, as well as a photo contest to put their new smartphone photography learnings to use. At the end of the program, Smart raffled off new smartphones to a lucky Millennior and volunteer.

Help in school work

“This phone will definitely help me make my reports for school,” said Hannah Grace Omas-as, the CNHS volunteer who won in the raffle. An honor student, Hannah shared that without a phone and the internet, she had a hard time researching for her papers. “But more than this phone, my experience teaching the elders—that was also a gift,” she added.

The Smart Millenniors program, spearheaded by Smart, enlists the help of youth volunteers in teaching senior citizens about technology, particularly how to use their smartphones, mobile data, social media and video to enrich their lives.

For its efforts in expanding the technological know-how of seniors across the country, the Smart Millenniors program was awarded a Silver Anvil at the recent 54th Anvil Awards. Since its launch in 2017, it has already conducted sessions with seniors around Metro Manila, Laguna, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.


CCLEC employees partner with associations in reforestation program

The Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), owner and operator of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) project, mobilized its employees to Barangay Buot, Cebu City and planted guyabano seedlings with the officers and members of Buot Livelihood Association Inc. (BULAI) and Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) on August 10, 2019.

The company also partnered with Camp 4 Manipis Minglanilla To-ong Association (CAMMITA) Inc. for a reforestation program that involves the provision and planting of 66,561 indigenous forest and fruit trees in Manipis, Talisay City.

CAMMITA, which has 158 members, will ensure that the planted trees in the area are well-maintained and protected until fully grown.

CAMMITA is an accredited people’s organization (PO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in ecological development and management of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape for the past 21 years in line with the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).

Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation tree planting

BULAI, also a people’s organization duly accredited by DENR, was tapped by CCLEC as its partner for its employees’ Tree Planting Activity and will guard and nurture the 500 guyabano seedlings planted in Barangay Buot until they are fully grown.

“This is CCLEC’s way of contributing for the protection of the environment. We are also ecstatic with our reforestation program because aside from helping increase Cebu’s water supply, enhance biodiversity and mitigate climate change, it will also help provide livelihood for the people’s organization that we engaged for the project,” said CCLEC Project Manager Herbert C. Laboy, who led the employees in the activity.

CCLEX is an 8.5-kilometer toll bridge that will link the Municipality of Cordova in Mactan Island to Cebu City through the South Road Properties. Construction of CCLEX, which is going to be the first expressway in Cebu, is in full swing and is expected to be completed by 2021.

CCLEC is a subsidiary company of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the toll road arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), a publicly listed infrastructure holding company and is a member of the MVP Group of Companies.

MPTC is the largest toll road concessionaire and operator in the Philippines, which expansion goals include establishing toll operations in the Visayas, other parts of the Philippines, and in neighboring countries notably Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. (Press Release)

Community Travel

MCIA recognized as a breastfeeding friendly airport

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) was recognized as a Breastfeeding Friendly Public Place by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) during the 7th Breastfeeding Congress and the 1st Asia-Pacific Breastfeeding Conference in EDSA Shangri-La Hotel today, August 7.

The Breastfeeding Friendly Public Place Award recognizes the efforts of MCIA in providing a welcoming and safe space for breastfeeding mothers and their families at the airport, announced the GMR MEGAWIDE Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA).

FOR MOTHERS. The Baby Care Room in MCIA Terminal 1.

FOR MOTHERS. The Baby Care Room in MCIA Terminal 1.

Resort-themed airport

“The baby care room was one of the significant changes introduced to MCIA after we had our first Airport User’s Forum (AUF) and this award recognizes the result of that successful collaboration. Moreover, this is a testament of our commitment to continue transforming MCIA as the world’s friendliest resort-themed airport,” said GMCAC chief executive advisor Andrew Acquaah-Harrison.

Through the feedback and insights gathered from the AUF, the baby care room was redesigned into a welcoming, clean, and friendly facility where mothers can safely and comfortably attend to their children.

The baby care room in MCIA’s Terminal 1 was opened in May 2016 and features 4 breastfeeding cubicles with curtain partitions to provide privacy. It also has lavatories for handwashing and sanitizing breast milk containers; a refrigerator and a microwave oven for storing and reheating breast milk; and nappy changing stations. A FIDS (flight information display system) monitor is also installed inside so mothers can keep track of their flights without having to get out of the baby care room.

AWARD FOR MCIA. (From left) PPS President Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian, GMCAC Safety, Quality Head John Binamira, GMCAC Terminal Operations Head (T1) Nenette Castillion, and Dr. Claire Pascual from the PPS Breastfeeding Committee during the awarding.

AWARD FOR MCIA. (From left) PPS President Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian, GMCAC Safety, Quality Head John Binamira, GMCAC Terminal Operations Head (T1) Nenette Castillion, and Dr. Claire Pascual from the PPS Breastfeeding Committee during the awarding.

Mothers working at MCIA

Aside from traveling mothers, the facility is also available for mothers who are working at the airport. It is open daily and can be found in Terminals 1 and 2.

With the vision of transforming the traveling experience of and providing a friendly service to its passengers, private operator GMCAC invited different airport users to share their feedback and suggestions in a forum dubbed the Airport User’s Forum (AUF).

Launched in August 2015, The AUF forms part of GMCAC’s stakeholder engagement initiatives where it endeavors to seek feedback from airport users to ensure that the airport’s improvements and development meet the needs of passengers with specific traveling needs and requirements.

“This initiative is designed to go beyond the traditional approach of the airport operator carrying out improvements without consultation and feedback from community users,” Harrison said. (Press Release)

Community Tech

Smart LTE up in more mountain sites in Cebu

More mountain barangays are now enjoying fast, reliable, and affordable mobile internet connection with the activation of Smart Communications Inc. LTE cell sites. The latest is Barangay Linut-od, 24 kilometers from the Argao town center in Cebu, or about an hour by motorcycle on rough road.

Improved connectivity is boosting livelihood, community efficiency and the general wellbeing of residents of this farming and coal mining village.

Seventy percent of households have members living elsewhere, and residents had to move from one place to another in search of a signal just to keep in touch, said former Argao Mayor Stanley Caminero. “So, when Smart fired up its new LTE cell site, people were ecstatic!”

LTE NOW AVAILABLE. LTE is finally in Linut-od, Argao after Smart fired up their LTE cell site in the mountain barangay. Leading the ceremony to mark the availability are former mayor Stanley Caminero (3rd from left) and Atty. Maria Jane C. Paredes, AVP and Center Head of SMART Public Affairs Visayas and Mindanao.

Contact family members

Among them were farmer Luciano Zamora and wife Lorenza, who see their three grown children only on special occasions. “We are thankful that now the signal is strong even up here in the mountains. We can contact our children anytime, and we don’t even have to leave the house,” said Luciano. It is a comforting thought, in case of an emergency, he added.

Now the couple even get to see their grandchildren, by making video calls using smartphones provided by their children, along with an “allowance” of credit load.

Farmers like Zamora are also learning to search the internet for new and better farming methods, Caminero said. Improved connectivity could also help boost upland tourism through social media, he added.

With better connectivity, families in Linut-od can stay in touch with relatives working far away.

Information dissemination

Councilor Resurreccion Gonzaga of barangay Cabantug said the new technology helps facilitates information dissemination and processing of documents, thus improving efficiency of local government units.

Aside from Linut-od, Smart has also fired up LTE sites in the mountain barangays of Colawin in Argao, and Guba and Bonbon in Cebu City.

LTE can be quickly upgraded to LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones. In Cebu, major cities like Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Mandaue City already have LTE-A sites.

Better connectivity also means peace of mind for Linut-od residents, who can easily contact family especially in times of emergencies.

Fiber backbone

To date, Smart has fulfilled its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover at least 90 percent of cities and municipalities to address the growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access in the country. Supporting Smart’s mobile network is PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, now extending over 259,000 kilometers.

PLDT and Smart’s nationwide network transformation efforts are backed by a historic-high capital expenditure of P78.4 billion this year. The capex investments are to further expand coverage and to increase capacity to handle the exponential growth in data traffic, with the ultimate aim of delivering the best data customer experience.

Linut-od residents can use this improved connectivity to stream videos online and share photos via social media.

Community Tech

Adult learning gets boost with Learning Center, Smart School-in-a-Bag

When the Department of Education (DepEd) conceptualized the Alternative Learning System (ALS) over 15 years ago, its primary goal was simple: to assist out-of-school youth and adult learners who haven’t completed basic education.

Years later, the government agency realized the need to further enhance ALS education interventions. This led to the development of ALS-Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST), an initiative that combines the ALS curriculum with technical, vocational, and other skills training.

The integrated program aims to produce completers who are not only able to catch up with basic education, but have also acquired technical competencies for immediate employment. “The program was developed based on the assessment that ALS learners showed they were more likely to stick with the program if they also learned work skills along the way,” said DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan.

Improved employability for ALS learners

While the ALS-EST is already implemented in 98 volunteer DepEd schools and five non-DepEd partners, the recently completed pilot ALS-EST Learning Center in the town of Lawaan in Eastern Samar is expected to further promote the effectiveness of alternative learning.

Located within the Lawaan National School of Craftsmanship and Home Industries, the facility has a large hall for lectures and workshops that can be divided or merged. The structure also takes into account the needs of student mothers and learners with disabilities, which would help remove the misconception that non-formal schooling equates to second-class education. “ALS is just another modality or pathway to literacy and – for many learners of special circumstances – it is their prized chance at basic education,” he said.

The first-ever ALS-EST Learning Center was funded by the Australian government through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and implemented by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). The partnership intends to construct four more identical facilities throughout the Philippines as they believe that education is the most effective solution against poverty.

“We hope that this donation will provide a conducive environment for learning and ensure that young people will get access to relevant skills,” said Australian Ambassador Steven J. Robinson.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan with Smart’s Head for Education Programs Stephanie V. Orlino at the inauguration of the pilot Alternative Learning System - Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST) facility in Lawaan, Eastern Samar.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan with Smart’s Head for Education Programs Stephanie V. Orlino at the inauguration of the pilot Alternative Learning System – Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST) facility in Lawaan, Eastern Samar.

“The end goal is to improve the employability of ALS learners and provide them with the expertise to start microenterprises,” he added.

Platform for offsite learning

According to USEC Malaluan, many alternative learners are unable to regularly show up for school, thus preventing them from completing their basic education. This is where Smart Communications (Smart) was able to support ALS-EST, as it provides a platform for offsite learning through the Smart School-in-a-Bag.

The flagship education program of the Philippines’ leading wireless services provider, Smart School-in-a-Bag is a portable digital classroom designed to provide access to technology to help deliver 21st century education even to remote schools without access to electricity. The 2×2 feet backpack contains a solar panel and battery, teacher’s laptop and tablet, Smart pocket WiFi, projector and screen, DVD player, TV, and student tablets that are pre-installed with literacy apps developed by Smart together with its community partners. Teacher training and program evaluation are also conducted.

With over 110 kits donated as of May 2019, the School-in-a-Bag program has benefitted over 30,000 learners and over 1,000 teachers in communities nationwide. These numbers are expected to grow with the use of the technology package in Lawaan ALS-EST.

“Having access to technology tools provided by School-in-a-Bag will surely motivate ALS-EST learners to attend sessions, since there are no limits to the resource materials that we access on the internet,” said Vicente R. Antofina Jr., a teacher for over 14 years.

More skills trainings

Aside from the School-in-a-Bag donation tailored for the program, Smart also plans on supporting ALS-EST by providing technology support and digital skills training, where needed,” said Stephanie V. Orlino, Head for Education Programs, Smart.

To learn more about the Smart School-in-a-Bag and Smart’s other CSR initiatives, visit or send an email to [email protected]. (Press Release)


VECO wins award for employee breastfeeding support program

The Visayan Electric Company, Inc. (VECO) was awarded in the recently concluded #InahanKugihan Breastfeeding Awards for having the Most Beautiful Lactation Room in a Private Establishment.

The Breastfeeding Awards Program, an initiative of the website, is “lovingly created by and Milk Making Mommies” to recognize all the #InahanKugihan in Cebu as well as the OB/Pedia and Businesses in Cebu who have been very supportive of breastfeeding. The awards program is open to all Cebu-based mommies who are actively feeding and breast milk feeding, Cebu-based OB/Pedia and businesses that have breastfeeding support programs for its employees or customers.

Dr. Marini Tabon-Esguerra of Titadocmom Breastfeeding Center – Cebu, the person behind the website and one of the promoters of breastfeeding in Cebu, said parents of breastfed babies have less health care claims, less absent days and are able to save from not buying milk formula, water, or medications.

MOTHER-FRIENDLY. The Visayan Electric Company was recognized for having “The Most Beautiful Lactation Room in a Private Establishment” during the recently concluded #InahanKugihan Breastfeeding Awards. The VECO Lactation Room is equipped with the necessary facilities that breastfeeding employees need to comfortably express and store milk even while at work.

“However, I think the most special contribution of breastfeeding at work is the feeling of empowerment of the employee when his or her family’s goals are supported. This has been statistically proven to increase employee loyalty to the company and increased productivity from feelings of well-being. Also, breastfed children grow to become healthy, social and intelligent adults with much to offer to their communities,” she added.

Visayan Electric was nominated by one of their breastfeeding employees, Ronimay Ducay-Alvarado.

“I nominated VECO because of its wonderful support to my fellow breastfeeding moms in our office. Our lactation room or Mother’s Room as we call it, is very useful to moms like me who want to continue our breastfeeding journey even when we’re working. I am so thankful to VECO for providing us more than what is required by law and for helping us nourish our babies with the best nutrition that we can ever afford,” Ducay-Alvarado said.

Republic Act 10028 of the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 was signed to support, protect and encourage women who are breastfeeding working moms. The law requires workplaces to establish a lactation station for nursing mothers complete with equipment and facilities such as lavatory for hand washing, refrigeration for storing breast milk, electrical outlets for breast pumps, comfortable seats and tables. The law also provides for nursing mothers to be given additional breaks called lactation periods of not less than 40 minutes in an 8-hour working period.

“More than compliance, we want our nursing VECO employees to feel comfortable that even though they left their little ones at home, they can still continue to provide breast milk. The lactation room is just a tool for them to accomplish their breastfeeding goals,” said Johanna Samson of the VECO Human Resources.

The Visayan Electric Company, owned and managed by publicly-listed Aboitiz Power Corporation and Vivant Corporation, is the second largest electric utility in the country. VECO has three ISO certifications — ISO 9001:2015 for Quality Management Systems (QMS), ISO 14001:2015 for Environmental Health and Safety Management Systems (EHSMS) and ISO 45001:2018 for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS). (Press Release)

Community Tech Uncategorized

Smart literacy apps named sole Filipino finalist in GSMA’s Asia Mobile Awards 2019

The roster of mother tongue-based literacy apps developed by leading wireless services provider Smart Communications (Smart) has been shortlisted in this year’s Asia Mobile Awards (AMO 2019).

Organized by mobile network operators group GSMA, AMO 2019 serves as the Asia Region’s leading stage for the latest and most innovative mobile products, apps, devices, services and initiatives.

Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs in Asia

Smart is in the running for its #LearnSmart Mother Tongue-Based Literacy Apps that were developed in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and academic institutions nationwide. The PLDT subsidiary initiated the local content development program in 2018 as a response to the lack of interactive local content for education and is the only finalist from the Philippines among the 50 contenders shortlisted by the AMO.

#LearnSmart app

The apps are nominated under the category of Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs in Asia. Other finalists include edotco Myanmar for Sustainable Connectivity Solution, China Mobile, Huawei Technologies & The 301 Hospital for The World’s First Successful 5G-Enabled Remote Surgery on a Living Human Patient, KaiOS for the emerging OS, KT & UNEP for Air Map Korea, and Mahindra Comviva for AsiaHawala.

The presentation of the Awards will take place at this year’s Mobile World Congress-Shanghai from June 26 to 28, 2019.

First of its kind

The LearnSmart mother tongue-based literacy apps feature lessons on local alphabet and numbers, videos showcasing local stories and songs, and games that help develop a learner’s essential memory and thinking skills. The mobile tools were designed to be interactive to make teaching and learning basic literacy in the local language more interesting and encouraging for both the teachers and the learners.

To-date, Smart has launched nine #LearnSmart literacy applications: Bahay Kubo (Filipino), Kaalam (Cebuano), Ta’allam and Tahderiyyah (Arabic), Matisalug (Matigsalug indigenous peoples Tribe of Davao and Bukidnon), Kaaram (Waray), Katao (Inabaknon), Singsing (Kapampangan), and Sanut (Ilokano). To-date, the suite of apps are the only mobile tools in the Philippines that feature localized educational content. In the case of Matigsalug, it is the first tribal app of its kind in the country, while Tahderiyyah is the first literacy app for the Bangsamoro children.

The main delivery pipeline of the apps is through the Smart School-in-a-Bag program, which are portable digital classrooms that are donated to remote and under-served schools in the Philippines with intermittent to no power. With more than 110 learning packages deployed as of end-2018, over 30,000 students around the Philippines have been given the opportunity to improve their performance in school though Smart’s flagship education initiative.

Aside from School-in-a-Bag beneficiaries, anyone can also download the #LearnSmart apps for free via Google Play.


Game-changing mobile devices and technologies

Prior to being named as a finalist in AMO 2019, the roster of mother-tongue literacy apps was previously awarded by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines with Silver citations at the 54th Anvil Awards. The nods were for Best PR Program Directed at Specific Stakeholders and Best PR Tool – Mobile Application.

Now on its fourth year, the AMOs recognize game-changing mobile devices and technologies, to applications and services developed for, or available in Asian markets, showcasing the ever growing value that mobility brings to users, industries, businesses, communities and economies across Asia’s countries and regions.

Smart’s previous AMO nods include a nomination in 2018 for SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), an electronic medical record and referral system spearheaded by Smart and the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center. From 2007 to 2009, the company also won AMOs for several Mobile Money and Advertising-Marketing initiatives, as well as a nomination under the Green Mobile Award for the company’s tarpaulin recycling initiatives. (Press Release)


Negros Oriental, Leyte residents boost disaster preparedness

Parishioners and students from Negros Oriental and Leyte recently participated in disaster preparedness trainings conducted in partnership with Smart Communications.

Close to 100 members of the clergy and lay people from the Diocese of Dumaguete attended Smart’s #SafePH training held in Ayungon, Negros Oriental.

The activity is part of Smart’s ongoing #SafePH series of disaster preparedness trainings to help build the capacity of communities during calamities.

Preparedness as way of life

The training was facilitated by Dr. Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), and Louie Domingo of Emergency Management Center.

Daep shared information on weather disturbances and the possible effects of earthquake and other hazards. There is still no proven scientific way to predict earthquakes, so it is important to make preparedness a way of life, according to Daep.

He also taught the participants how to develop project proposals for disaster mitigation in their own communities.

Dr. Cedric Daep shares his knowledge on hazards and disaster preparedness to the participants composed of members of clergy and lay people.

Dr. Cedric Daep shares his knowledge on hazards and disaster preparedness to the participants composed of members of clergy and lay people.

Emergency kits

Domingo, meanwhile, taught the participants what to do before, during, and after a calamity and shared practical survival tips, from how to apply first aid and what to put in their emergency kits or “e-balde,” to how to protect themselves in times of danger.

The training was set just after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Luzon and the Visayas in April.

In March, about 800 students of Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) in Tacloban City also participated in a 2-day TNT Tropang Ready activity initiated by Smart. Resource speakers from the academe and local authorities shared with the students information about hazards and safety tips.

Help of technology

TNT Tropang Ready is a program that tours schools nationwide to help enhance the preparedness of the youth and develop them into preparedness ambassadors in their own communities. The program includes a series of talks, workshops, and teaching sessions integrated in their educational curriculum.

Smart promotes the culture of preparedness in communities with the help of technology as part of its #SafePH advocacy. It has initiated mobile solutions such as the Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and community caravans for the youth, families, and members of the Church, in the company’s efforts toward resilience. (Press Release)


GT Northeast Academy – soon to be B.E.S.T. School in Cebu

For the past 5 years, GT Northeast Academy (GTNA)  in Tayud, Liloan has established a reputation for academic excellence.

It has a reputation for training brilliant and elite students of northeast Cebu. The school, however, offers scholarships to deserving top students from both public and private schools.

Enrolling your child at GT Northeast Academy ensures that they receive a well-rounded training by the school’s talented and supportive teachers. GTNA’s fully air-conditioned classrooms are equipped with projectors and conducive for learning. Rooms have a capacity of only 25 students.

Science laboratory.

Students undergo a matchless experience in learning and discovering their talents and potentials. Through extensive and precise measures, teachers make sure students have a proficient learning curve.

GT Northeast Academy amenities

GTNA offers the following amenities: comprehensive biology, natural science, chemistry, and physics  laboratories; complete computer laboratories for encoding and software application learning; a standard gymnasium for sports and recreational activities; a semi-Olympic size swimming pool; a canteen with friendly staff; an inclusive kitchen for culinary and gastronomic lessons; a library; a fully-functioning music room; a dance hall; carpool services; and a Roman Catholic chapel.


Course subjects are delivered in a variety of pedagogical approaches using multiple learning methods and educational materials, which are constantly reviewed and evaluated.

Students are also taught social graces, which are infused in the school’s academic culture.

Students of the school have garnered various achievements in inter-school competitions. These achievements live up to the school vision of being “A community in pursuit of excellence.”

B.E.S.T. school by 2025

To continue its pursuit of excellence, GTNA aims to become B.E.S.T. school in Cebu by 2025.  B.E.S.T. stands for Business, Entrepreneurial, Science, and Technology school.

The move is anchored on the school’s strong adherence to science and technology research, business entrepreneurship, and the multi-discipline of social sciences.

GTNA recently launched its first ever ‘Business and Research Conference 2019” – a learning showcase that highlighted research papers and business proposals of senior high school students.

Computer laboratory.

The conference boosted the confidence of students by providing them a venue to showcase their writing and public speaking skills. The school plans to make the conference and annual event and include junior high school students.

B.E.S.T School in Cebu by 2025 is GTNA’s 5-year program for uplifting its vision. It includes projects like the acquisition of a robotics laboratory, installation of a business stimulation hub, and increase in the amenities of existing science and technology labs. It also covers broadening the library facility by expanding materials for e-learning programs and reviewing the current curriculum to include the B.E.S.T. ideals.

Science laboratory.

Best K to 12 education

GT Northeast Academy guarantees the best K to 12 education of your child.

It is currently accepting reservations for Preschool (Nursery 1 & 2 and Kindergarten); Elementary; Junior High School; and Senior High School. For Senior High School, it offers the Academic Tracks for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM); Accountancy, Business & Management (ABM); Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS); and General Academic Strand (GAS).  

GTNA school building.

Enrollment is going on for Summer Classes on School Readiness, Singapore Math, Reading, Writing, and Comprehension. Non-Academic Summer Classes include Basic Arts & Crafts, Music (Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano, and Keyboard), Taekwondo, and Ballet Dance Workshop.

Visitors are welcome and school tours can be arranged. For inquiries, GTNA can be reached at (032) 424-4901, (032) 424-4511, or at 0920-221-6086. You can also send an email to [email protected]. (Press Release)

Community Events

Multi-awarded school holds summer camps to spread strengths-based culture

A Cebu school that cultivates a strengths-based culture will hold two summer workshops between May and July to spread educational innovations geared towards the development of children and the youth.

The Children’s Paradise Montessori School (CMPS) plans to undertake the Youth Empowerment and Strengths (YES) camp and the Integrated Boot Camp (IBC).

CMPS President Marivic Bathan said the two activities are geared towards helping participants identify and hone their strengths and at the same time find a way through their weaknesses.

Education roadmap

She added that at this period in time, when there are countless upheavals brought about by environmental changes and the digital revolution, education is still the vehicle that will prepare children for the future that is just around the corner.

Children's Paradise Montessori School
STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES. CMPS President Marivic Bathan says the two activities are geared towards helping participants identify and hone their strengths and at the same time find a way through their weaknesses.

According to Bathan, the roadmap in a strengths-based school is to start with talent and develop it into strength.

Talent becomes strength when it produces a consistent, positive outcome and this is the philosophy they want to teach those who will be joining YES and IBC.

YES camp

The first ever YES camp, which will run from May 30 to June 1, will be held at the Rafi-Kool Adventure Camp and open to those who are from 12-18 years old.

By the end of the camp, which will focus on the individual and collective strengths of the youth, participants should already have a concrete grasp of their talents, been coached on how they can develop these into strengths, and a support group made up of their parents and other relatives as well as their YES camp family.

Internationally awarded Life executive and Gallup Strengths coach May Soriano and Fr. Loretto Jaque, who has been trained in Play Expressive Arts Therapy in France and Switzerland will help facilitate the activity. Bathan and RAFI-KAC staff will also help out as facilitators.

Integrated Boot Camp

Scheduled from May 29 to July 6, IBC will delve on theater arts and creative ecology. Participants are expected to mount a full scale production at the end of the camp and this will be performed at the USP Theater for Performing Arts.

A competent pool of professional artists will serve as trainers and facilitators, including Rudy Aviles who will serve as creative director, Emman Mante as assistant creative director, and professional songwriter Jude Gitamondoc as musical director. Other trainers are Nino Banares for percussion and rhythmic instruments, Alfie Mosqueda as choreographer, Crisanto Etorma as visual artist, and Rosabelle Daculan as camp facilitator.

Children's Paradise Montessori School
MENTORS. CMPS President Marivic Bathan with creative director Rudy Aviles and assistant creative director Emman Mante during the press conference for the Youth Empowerment and Strengths (YES) camp and the Integrated Boot Camp (IBC).

White said emphasis will not only be on output but the process as well so that participants will become not only performers but creators as well.

Aviles added that the camp will use an integrated arts approach so that participants l will learn a range of creative skills set, from script writing and acting to photography and video production.

Registration details

To register for any of the camps, all you need to do is call CPMS at 0920-9522509 or 422-3446. Those who register get an early bird discount.

About CPMS

The Children’s Paradise Montessori School was founded by Bathan, who has been its president since its inception in 2005, with the mission of providing children with an education for life.

It has created a learning environment based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy and principles. CPMS has been awarded as Montessori School of the Year in the Business Achievement and Recognition Awards for 10 straight years since 2010.

The school is located along H. Abellana St. in Canduman, Mandaue City.


Smart gets special award for free Wi-Fi in Cebu City library

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has been cited by the Cebu City local government as an “outstanding institution” for providing free Smart WiFi services at the Cebu City Public Library (CCPL), the country’s first 24/7 public library.

Smart received the Mayor’s Special Award for Outstanding Institution from Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña alongside 14 other individual and institution awardees honored during Cebu City’s 82nd Charter Day Anniversary celebrations.

Last year, PLDT and Smart signed a Memorandum of Agreement to make carrier-grade Smart WiFi available to students, researchers and other visitors of the Cebu City Public Library and Information Center, which at the time had just started its 24/7 operations.

Smart WiF award
AWARD. Representatives from PLDT-Smart, led by Visayas-Mindanao Public Affairs head Atty Maria Jane Paredes, receive the award from Mayor Tomas Osmeña.


Access to online materials

“This award is in appreciation of Smart’s invaluable support to Cebu City by providing free Wi-Fi services in the Cebu City Public Library, the country’s first 24/7 public library that gives its clients access to online course materials and allows them to download research subjects and academic journals,” the citation read.

“This is a night of recognition, it’s not about me, it’s about Cebu, and all the people who make this possible,” Mayor Osmeña said, addressing the honorees.

“By providing quality connectivity for Filipinos across the country, PLDT and Smart continue to lead the country’s digital transformation in an ever-evolving digital world,” said Juan Victor Hernandez, Senior Vice President and Head of Enterprise for PLDT and Smart.

“With the help of our partners and government, we continue to invest in ICT infrastructure to empower individuals, businesses and enterprises, and improve the quality of life of Filipinos all over country,” Hernandez added.

Best digital experience

“PLDT and Smart are proud to join forces with government partners like Mayor Osmeña and the Cebu City government, in helping build a nation of well-informed citizens across the country and making the wealth of knowledge available on the Internet accessible to more Filipinos,” said Ramon R. Isberto, PLDT-Smart Public Affairs head.

A backhaul capacity of up to 200 megabits per second allows users to have the best digital experience when participating in online classes and interactive learning sessions, as well as when discovering relevant digital content online.

Connected Cebu

Aside from the CCPL, Smart WiFi is also available for students at Cebu Institute of Technology, Cebu Technological University, Sacred Heart Ateneo de Cebu, University of Cebu Banilad, Don Bosco Cebu, Holy Name University, University of Cebu, University of Southern Philippines Foundation, Velez College and UP Cebu, to name a few.

In 2015, Cebu City Hall was the first establishment in Cebu that offered public Smart WiFi. Other areas with Smart Wifi are the Cebu Provincial Capitol, Larsian Food Center, Cebu North and South Bus Terminals, and Cebu Port Terminals 1 and 3.

The nationwide rollout of Smart WiFi complements Smart’s ongoing network expansion and modernization program across the country. Early this year, Smart also fired up LTE sites in the mountain barangays of Bonbon and Guba, Cebu City, where residents, their businesses and livelihoods, and vital facilities like schools and hospitals now can tap mobile data services to improve their lives.

Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources to support network transformation. For 2018, PLDT capex was expected to reach P58 billion, including allocations for the aggressive roll-out of its fiber broadband service, which also supports the stepped-up deployment of the mobile network by providing high-capacity links for cellular base stations.


Regal Oliva elected new IBP Cebu City President

Lawyer Regal Oliva was elected today as the new Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter President.

Oliva, who previously served as vice president, expressed appreciation to the chapter for the election and said “the fact that I am unopposed speaks so much of the trust of the Chapter on the previous Board.”

Elected together with Oliva to compose the 24th Board of Officers are lawyers Michelle Mendez-Palmares as Vice President; Bernardino Amago IV as Secretary, Mark Anthony Gaviola as Treasurer, Dan delos Angeles as Auditor, and Elmer Mansanadez as PRO. Also elected as Chapter Directors are lawyers Mark Gregory Avila, Maricris Bathan-Lasco, Hazel Espina, Georgia Herrera and Christine Naranjo.

Regal Oliva IBP Cebu City Chapter President
NEW PRESIDENT. Regal Oliva is the new IBP Cebu City Chapter President.


“The new Board will continue uplifting the law profession and will innovate more services that will not only cater to the members of the chapter, but to the whole community as well.” Oliva said, “I am also very pleased that the IBP National Board has started to elevate Gender and Development (GAD) as a continuing advocacy, and I will make sure that the Board I will lead will conform to a more inclusive IBP and hopefully, a GAD–focused Supreme Court.”

Incoming Vice President Palmares said, “we are at a time where lawyers are placed in volatile situations and we need to make sure, as a Chapter, that the rule of law will always be upheld and preserved.”

IBP Cebu City Officers
NEW IBP CEBU CITY OFFICERS. (From left) Directors Hazel Espina and Maricris Bathan-Lasco, Vice President Michelle Mendez-Palmares, President Regal Oliva, Directors Christine Naranjo and Georgia Herrera, Auditor Dan delos Angeles and PRO Elmer Mansanadez.


The IBP is the official organization of all Philippine lawyers, whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. The IBP came into being when the Supreme Court created, on October 5, 1970, the Commission on Bar Integration which was tasked “not only to ascertain the advisability of integration of the Bar, but even more, to serve as a common vehicle of the Court and the Bar in fashioning a blueprint for integration and putting the same into actual operation.

The new board will begin their term on April 1, 2019. It will end on March 30, 2021.

Community Feature

Columbia, Primer Group of Companies bring potable water to Sibugay school

Each day at school, Sibugay Integrated School Grade 6 student Riza Mae Ardiente spends P2 of her P20 allowance to buy water from a decrepit dispenser near the faculty office.

For P1, she gets about a glass of water in a plastic bag that she twirls on top to seal and then bites off on one side to suck in the liquid. She gets one in the morning and another after lunch. She counts herself lucky. Others in school only have P5 as allowance and those who do not have money often ask teachers like Ryan Steve Panerio, “sir, naa kay piso? (do you have a peso?)”

Starting this school week, Ardiente can save the P2. Her school now has potable water, filtered to World Health Organization standards by an Aqua Tower put up on Valentine’s Day by volunteers from Columbia Sportswear Company and Primer Group of Companies working with the Planet Water Foundation.

Columbia, The Primer Group Aqua Tower in Sibugay
WATER DISPENSER. Grade 6 student Riza Mae Ardiente gets P1 worth of water from this machine near the faculty office of Sibugay Integrated School.


Water supply not safe

The Aqua Tower can serve 1,000 people daily, more than enough for the school’s 765 students from Kindergarten to Senior High School and 25 teachers and administration employees, said Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager.

Brunk, who is based in the company’s headquarters in Portland, Oregon, was in Cebu to help the group put up the water tower and turn it over to the school community.

Before the tower was put up, the school only had spring water and deep well supply that were found not safe for drinking by a team from the Cebu City Health Department, said school principal Madeline Tinapay. There were cases of people getting sick because of the water, she said.

Tinapay said her school is “very lucky and thankful” to receive the donation.

The Primer Group, Columbia Aqua Tower
AQUA TOWER. Volunteers from Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group prepare to erect the Aqua Tower that will provide potable water to students and faculty of the Sibugay Integrated School in a mountain barangay in Cebu City.


Aqua Tower filtration system

The Aqua Tower stores water and then makes it potable through a two-stage filtration process that uses ultrafiltration technology. The system uses activated carbon to enhance drinking water quality, according to the Planet Water Foundation.

Last Thursday, February 14, the team from Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group of Companies went to Sibugay to assemble the tower, hold lectures on hygiene for students, and turn over the system to the school.

The group arrived mid-morning and then put together the different parts of the water tower. By lunch, it was up and ready for commissioning.

The community served a sumptuous traditional celebratory feast of lechon or roast pig, pansit, and native chicken soup. Tinapay explained It was a contribution of the parents, many of whom were unable to attend the momentous event for the community. Most families in the area grow and sell flowers and Valentine’s Day was one of their biggest business days.

Columbia Sportswear, The Primer Group Aqua Tower
VALENTINE CARD. Students gave a Valentine’s Day card to express their gratitude to Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager. Brunk was with the team that built the tower and turned it over to the Sibugay Integrated School last Valentine’s Day.


Environmental conservation

The tower is the 9th installation by Columbia. The company started the project in 2016 and has worked with their factories to build 7 in Vietnam and 1 in India. This is the first time they worked with a distributor, Brunk said.

“Columbia is very committed with environmental conservation. We are an outdoor apparel company. We make products for going outside and if the environment is not clean, is not preserved, people don’t want to go out. It’s that easy, ” Brunk told in an interview.

She said the company has been “actively working with NGOs in protecting the environment and we’ve noticed that water is such an important issue, especially in emerging markets.”

Brunk said this is the first time they are working with a distributor. She said they always work with local partners because “they know which communities need clean drinking water.”

Columbia The Primer Group Aqua Tower
FILTRATION SYSTEM. The heart of the Aqua Tower is this filtration system that purifies water to World Health Organization standards. Working on the system are The Primer Group Director Johnny Thai and wife Evelyn (standing left and center) and Regional Manager Dino de Leon (seated).


The Primer Group CSR programs

Primer Group Corporate Social Responsibility Program Manager Kristine Villaflor said they worked with the Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu City to identify the beneficiary of the project. DepEd shortlisted 5 schools that the Primer Group visited to evaluate in October. They eventually chose Sibugay based on their criteria.

Villaflor said The Primer Group has different CSR programs on such areas as eco-tourism, environment, institutional partnerships, and donations.

Brunk said that to make sure the program is sustainable, Planet Water will send someone to regularly inspect the Aqua Tower and check its water quality.

Columba Sports Wear, The Primer Group Aqua Tower
FIRST GLASSES. Students drink their first glasses of the water made potable by the Aqua Tower put up by Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group.


Planet Water Foundation Program Manager Dario Operario said the filtration system will last 5 to 7 years before needing replacement.

Teachers and students thanked Columbia, The Primer Group, Planet Water, and the volunteers during the turnover in the afternoon. The commissioning ended with students playfully trying out the water tower in the rain that had been pouring since early morning. The students were washing their hands with soap according to the training they had earlier that day and drinking their first glasses of water filtered by the Aqua Tower.



More photos of the building of the Aqua Tower and its turnover to Sibugay Integrated School


Columbia The Primer Group Aqua Tower
BRIEFING. Planet Water Foundation Program Manager Dario Operario briefs volunteers from Columbia Sportswear and The Primer Group before the assembling of the Aqua Tower.


Columbia The Primer Group Aqua Tower
WATER FILTER. Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager, talks about the filtration system at the heart of the Aqua Tower.


Columbia, The Primer Group Aqua Tower
TURNOVER. Jinn Brunk, Columbia Sportswear Community Program Manager, Sibugay Integrated School Principal Madeline Tinapay and DepEd Cebu City Division Superintendent Dr. Bianito Dagatan lead the ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the turnover of the water facility.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies
VOLUNTEERS from Columbia Sportswear Company and Primer Group of Companies with School Principal Madeline Tinapay after the turnover of the project.


Columbia Sportswear, Primer Group of Companies
Volunteers get ready to put up the water tower.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies Aqua Tower
VOLUNTEERS put up the water tower.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies
HYGIENE LESSONS. Evelyn Thai discusses tips on hygiene and sanitation and how students should make sure their water containers are clean.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies Aqua Tower turnover
MEMBERS of the school’s drum and bugle corps perform during the turnover ceremonies.


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies Aqua Tower
COMMUNITY DANCE. The highlight of the event was when students led volunteers, teachers, parents, and fellow students dance “I Love Cebu.”


Columbia Sportswear Primer Group of Companies
CLEAN, SAFE DRINKING WATER. The Aqua Tower put up by Columbia Sportswear Company and the Primer Group of Companies will serve clean and potable water to up to 1,000 people daily.

Community Tech

Stronger signal improves life in mountain barangays of Cebu City

From being able to quickly call for emergency vehicles to bring patients to bigger hospitals to being able to receive orders for flowers, residents of Barangay Guba and Bonbon in Cebu City say their lives have improved with the stronger cellphone signal in their area.

The two mountain barangays that are an hour’s drive from the central Cebu City business district now have better connectivity after Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) turned on 2 4G LTE cell sites in the area.

With the improved signal coverage, residents can now tap mobile services to improve their lives and boost their livelihood and businesses. Vital facilities like schools and hospitals also benefitted from the improved connection.

Smart LTE Cebu City
IMPROVED SPEEDS. The connectivity in Barangay Bonbon, a mountain barangay in Cebu City.


Emergency communications

Fr. Peter Necesario, parish priest of St. Niño Parish in Guba, said that with stronger signal, they no longer feel isolated, especially during emergencies.

“In times of emergencies such as storms, it is easier for us to communicate and be updated about the weather through the internet,” Fr. Necesario said.

He added that Guba is a strategically located barangay with a community hospital and church, so communications is very important.

Resident Gemma Sandigan, 40, said that the better mobile phone service helps them address the needs of the community, especially on health care. Her father was the former head of Guba Community Hospital. Since the community hospital is small, it can’t cater to complex medical procedures and has to refer patients to bigger hospitals. However, there are times when no vehicles are available to transport the patients.

LTE Cebu City
LTE CONNECTION. The improved connectivity allows residents of Barangays Guba and Bonbon to tap online services like live streaming of community events.


Contact family members

“With better signal, we can call for vehicles and ask for help in transferring patients to bigger hospitals faster,” Gemma said.

The activation of 2 new cell sites is part of a larger rollout plan covering several more mountain barangays of Cebu City at the request of Mayor Tomas Osmeña. The city government plans to deploy new services for these communities that require improved mobile phone coverage and data services.

For Gemma’s mother, 62-year-old Emerlisa Veloso, the benefits are personal. She is thankful for the stronger signal because she can now contact her children who work away from home.

“Before, we really have to get out of the house just to get signal. Now, we can just stay indoors to contact my children. This is a huge help,” Veloso said.

In terms of education, better signal also means improved learning.

Research, school work

For 14-year-old Grade 8 student Faith Mae P. Tabal, communication with teachers and classmates for school-related activities has become easier, now that she can use LTE for research and other school work.

In Barangay Bonbon, meanwhile, farmers are reaping the benefits of good signal and data connection.

Flower farmer Donyo Tapia, 71, said that the better Smart signal has helped him a lot with his flower deliveries.

“Stronger signal is a huge help. They (customers) can just call us when they order flowers. Even if we don’t have the flowers, we can still look for them,” he said.

Tapia also said they have the phone numbers to the local market and the customers can now call them for orders anytime and anywhere.

LTE in Guba, Bonbon, Cebu City
STRONGER CONNECTION. The new LTE connectivity allows students in Barangays Guba and Bonbon to use the internet to research and to link up with family, friends, and classmates.


Strong signal anywhere

“We can make sure to deliver flowers immediately, especially rush orders, now that the signal is stronger. Unlike before when we still have to go to higher places just to look for signal. It was hard. Now the signal is very strong anywhere,” he added.

Another thankful resident of Barangay Bonbon is 50-year-old micro-entrepreneur Marites Cabos. Upon experiencing stronger signal for calls and LTE for mobile data, she now sells Smart SIM cards in her store.

“Before we didn’t have network signal from Smart, now we finally have it. We are very thankful because this is a huge help for us here in Bonbon, especially because our children live far away. Now I am also a retailer here because the signal is faster. The LTE data (signal) is now very fast here in Bonbon,” she said.

Over 80% of cell sites across Cebu now have LTE.

This continuous expansion of LTE services across Cebu is part of efforts to provide the best mobile data experience across the country.

LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable and reliable mobile internet services to as many customers as possible. It is also quickly upgradable to LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones.

In Cebu, major cities like Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Mandaue City already have LTE-A sites.

LTE in Guba and Bonbon
IMPROVED LIVES. The stronger Smart signal in Barangays Guba and Bonbon have improved the lives of people in the community.


Award-winning network

Smart has also already fulfilled its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover at least 90 percent of cities and municipalities to address the growing demand for broadband infrastructure and internet access within three years from the grant of the use of frequencies by the NTC in 2016.

Smart has increased its total LTE base station count across the country by 65% in the first three quarters of 2018. PLDT’s fiber optic transmission and distribution network, the country’s most extensive fiber network at 221,000 kilometers, meanwhile, provides high-capacity fiber connections for these LTE base stations.

For these continuous network upgrade efforts, both PLDT and Smart have been cited by third party firms for being the country’s fastest networks. Earlier this year, PLDT and Smart were cited for being the country’s fastest fixed and mobile networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis. Mobile analytics firm OpenSignal has also consistently cited Smart for having the country’s fastest LTE network for its past four study rounds.

Parent company PLDT has committed historic levels of resources for network transformation. For 2018, PLDT capex was expected to reach P58 billion.

Community Lifestyle

Santo Niño art exhibit opens in Bamboo Bay

Contempo Property Holdings Inc and Bamboo Bay Community gathered 24 Cebuano artists to mount an art exhibit called “Halad Kaniño” at the condo development on Hernan Cortez St., Mandaue City.

The exhibit centers on the Santo Niño and is timed with the celebration of the Sinulog festival, which honors the Holy Child. The exhibit opened yesterday and will run until February 12.

Halad Kaniño exhibit Bamboo Bay
EXHIBIT OPENING. Contempo founder and CEO Beverly Dayanan (2nd from left) and exhibit organizer and painter Celso Pepito (4th from left) lead the ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the Halad Kaniño art exhibit at the Bamboo Bay Community in Mandaue City.


Contempo Property Holdings Inc. founder and CEO Beverly Dayanan and painter Celso Pepito, who organized the show, led the ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the exhibit yesterday.

The art show is a tribute exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and drawings of the Santo Niño.

It features the works of renowned artists Jonathan Abellana, Lida Aguilar, Ryan Roy Barral, Arnel Belda, Irvin Benlot, Cesar Castillo, Methuzael Carredo, Mary Evangeline Caya, Rhodesa Cruzet, Jess Dinglasa, John Dinglasa, Reynan Dingal, Ramo de Dios, Efren Enolva, Eunice Florendo, Jet Florendo, Jun Impas, Ann Lubanga, Guido Lubanga, Clint Normandia, Joseph Ong, Celso Pepito, Fe Pepito, Jose Mari Picornell, Garry Watin, Antonio Vidal, Marlone Ylanan, and Sonia Yrastorza.

Bamboo Bay Sinulog exhibit
A painting by Jun Impas.


Bamboo Bay is the flagship project of Contempo. It is a 1-hectare Asia contemporary development located on Hernan Cortez St., Mandaue City.

The company said in a statement that it is committed to support Cebuano artists by holding exhibitions to showcase their works. In April 2018, the condo development had a successful run of its Flower Power Art Exhibit, a collection of art pieces that captured the blooms and colors of summer. It was also held at Bamboo Bay.

To learn more about the the Halad Kaniño Art Exhibit, you can call +6332 231 0001 or +6332 231 0002.


More photos of the Halad Kaniño exhibit opening