First Gen, Lopez Group rebuild schools in the wake of ‘Yolanda’
First Gen Corporation and other Lopez Group companies under First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH) are constructing 28 additional typhoon-resilient school buildings in eight more disaster-hit areas as part of Phase 3 of their ongoing school rebuilding program.
In expanding Phase 3, the Lopez Group companies have committed to construct schools in areas affected not only by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) but also by other recent disasters. These schools are in Leyte, Eastern Samar, Sorsogon, Albay, Bohol, Bukidnon, Laguna and Panay Island.
FPH vice president Ramon A. Carandang disclosed the expanded scope of the school rebuilding program as the country remembered the onslaught of Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013.
“After completing Phases 1 and 2 of the school rebuilding program, we realized that classrooms remain a great need in so many towns not just in Leyte but in other areas in the country. To this day, children continue to attend classes in partially repaired rooms and even in tents and other makeshift areas. This situation has prompted us not only to continue but to expand efforts to help the affected area,” Carandang said.
Launched in June 2015, Phase 3 of the school rebuilding program—like the earlier Phase 1 and Phase 2—originally focused on rebuilding schools in areas devastated by Yolanda.
Those in the expanded list are Rizal Integrated National School in Sorsogon, Sorsogon; Nagotgot Elementary School in Manito, Albay; Impasug-ong Central Elementary School in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon; Imbatug Central Elementary School in Baungon, Bukidnon; Mandong Integrated School in Batan, Aklan; San Roque Elementary School in Mabini, Bohol; Hacienda Concita National High School in San Dionisio, Iloilo; Anabo National High School in Lemery, Iloilo; Dina-ut Elementary School in Altavas, Aklan; and OML Dayap Elementary School in Calauan, Laguna.
Under the expanded school rebuilding program, the target number of classrooms increased from 48 to at least 56, while the number of school sites went up from 18 to 28.
In the first two phases of the Lopez Group’s school rebuilding program, funds pooled from various donors by ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc.-Sagip Kapamilya were tapped to construct new school buildings or to repair damaged schools in Yolanda-hit areas. For Phase 3, the Lopez Group companies, led by First Gen, have pledged to shoulder the cost of constructing new schools.
“My team went around and inspired other companies within the group to join the initiative and provide funding for the program,” said Leonardo Ablaza, head of the Lopez Group’s school rebuilding program. “We are happy to note the strong support of our Kapamilyas for the program.”
FPH companies that pledged support for Phase 3 are: First Gen (16 school buildings), Rockwell Land Corporation (6 school buildings), First Balfour (4) and First Philec along with ThermaPrime Well Services, Inc. (1 each).
First Gen is one of the biggest independent power producers in the Philippines with an installed capacity of 2,957 megawatts. It is the primary holding company for the power generation and energy-related businesses of the Lopez Group through FPH. Rockwell Land is acknowledged as the country’s foremost developer of luxurious real estate projects. First Balfour is the Lopez Group company engaged in construction and engineering services, while ThermaPrime is a leading geothermal drilling company.
First Gen subsidiary Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the world’s largest vertically integrated geothermal company, supported the program by offering to work for free as project manager for the whole school rebuilding program. At the same time, Kananga EDC Institute of Technology (KEITech), EDC’s technical-vocational school, responded by redesigning its courses to include short, three-month training modules. KEITech offers the training modules to Yolanda victims as an immediate livelihood support for them and as a way of addressing manpower needs of the school rebuilding program.
FPH subsidiary First Philippine Industrial Park, Inc. (FPIP), owner of the premiere 457-hectare industrial estate in Batangas, pledged P1.3 million for the chairs that will be used in all schools donated by First Gen and First Philec, the intermediate holding company of FPH for manufacturing and technology-related investments.
The entire school rebuilding program now costs at least P245.9 million, inclusive of EDC’s administrative expenses for the school rebuilding program and allocation for KEITech’s own training program for Yolanda victims. Of this total, P84 million represented funds pooled by Sagip Kapamilya from various donors; and P161.9 million from First Gen, EDC and other FPH companies.
“Phase 3 will now reach areas with no EDC business footprint but are well deserving of the donation, such as towns in Panay Island that were also devastated by Yolanda; Bohol, which suffered a destructive earthquake in 2013; and the isolated mountain schools of Bukidnon. We also added among the recipients some schools in the Bicol provinces as our way of helping them recover from typhoons that frequent the region,” Ablaza said.
Ablaza said he expects the classrooms will be finished five to six months from the start of construction. “By the end of 2016 we will turn over 141 typhoon-resilient classrooms to the Department of Education,” he added.
The classrooms for turnover next year include those constructed under the early phases of the program. All new classrooms meet the requirement for becoming typhoon-resilient classrooms—they can withstand winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour.
“We believe that as a corporate social responsibility activity, the school rebuilding program is a more visible and measurable undertaking for the Lopez conglomerate,” Carandang said.
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