DURING a visit of then senatorial candidate Richard Gordon to New Jersey in 2007, he asked Filipinos abroad to contribute back to their country.
In response to his request, Dr. Emmanuel Lat, a plastic surgeon, started calling and emailing members of the Phi Kappa Mu fraternity of the University of the Philippines (UP)-College of Medicine, and later its sister sorority Phi Lambda Delta from all over the world.
The general plan was simple: get the commitment from fraternity brothers and sorority sisters to donate any amount for the construction of a four-storey dormitory based on naming rights and social entrepreneurship, with all the building’s net proceeds to be donated back to the UP-College of Medicine and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
The goal was $300,000 for the initial construction. In five days, the amount was raised. The donations ranged from $10 to $15,000. Phi Kappa Mu received a total donation of P32 million.
SunStar Cebu consultant Gina Atienza and Dr. Leonardo Leonidas wrote an article about Phi Kappa Mu’s beautiful endeavor; the feature was published in SunStar Cebu in 2008.
After the amount for the construction was reached, Lat worked to get the approval of the UP administration in Diliman, Quezon City for a dormitory to be constructed beside the College of Pharmacy inside the UP Manila campus.
It was not an easy process as it took five years of negotiations and a change of UP administration before the construction was approved.
After seven months, the construction of the four-storey building was completed. The building is rented by persons connected to UP Manila—it has 32 units for rent and it houses around 120 students.
The first and second floors are for female students and the fourth floor for males. The third floor was supposed to be for both male and female occupants, but it ended up for females only.
The building has two function rooms that serve as study areas.
Each unit has its own bathroom, a kitchenette with space for under-the-counter refrigerator and a microwave. There is also space for an air-conditioner. Each tenant has a floor-to-ceiling closet, a desk and chair, a bed and mattress.
An occupant has to go through a biometric facial recognition system before entering the room. The whole building is covered by a security camera system and a fire sprinkler system. It also has free Wi-Fi.
A touch-screen computer display is in the lobby, and it shows the names of the donors. A live-in staff of third party independent contractors serve the Phi House.
The Phi House was fully occupied by the end of its second year, all by word of mouth.
The building is a first in UP Manila campus. It helped the local economy during the construction and continues to this day as housing scholarships is being given to financially deserving students.
The Phi House has accommodated people from Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. Net proceeds from the Phi House have already been donated—P6 million went to the UP College of Medicine’s Medical Sciences Building for its alumni lounge, P1.5 million to the PGH for its nurses’ station, P1 million to the UP Los Baños Infirmary’s four patient rooms and P287,000 for a UP College of Medicine’s summer project.
The building project could be adopted by any organization for any size of project-naming rights in order to raise the funds and social entrepreneurship to ensure proper maintenance and continuity of the project. It is a gift that keeps on giving—simple, yet effective.
The Phi Kappa Mu concept can really work and may dramatically help the country.