IN ITS 91-year history, the Philippines’ leading digital services provider PLDT has worked tirelessly to instill a sense of belongingness among Filipinos.
From making the first domestic phone call possible, to being the first to connect the Philippines to the world via the Internet, and to revolutionizing mobile connectivity, PLDT has always recognized its influence on the way Filipinos communicate and on Philippine society as a whole.
As 2020 begins, the group continues to build on its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that play a pivotal role in helping the country attain the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in four key areas: education, livelihood, innovation and environment.
With a strong emphasis on digital literacy, education continues to be the flagship CSR program of the PLDT Group. Its Gabay Guro program provides teachers with scholarships, livelihood, connectivity and computerization, housing and educational facilities, training and innovation, and annual tribute events for teachers. Now on its 12th year, the program has trained over 60,000 teachers and granted 1,770 scholarships to date.
The PLDT Infoteach reaches out to high school students, primary to secondary level teachers, and out-of-school youths through digital literacy trainings. Since its inception in 2004, the initiative has produced over 32,000 program graduates.
Wireless services subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) has the School-in-a-Bag program, which bridges the so-called “digital divide” by providing portable digital classrooms and trainings for remote and underserved learning communities. The flagship #LearnSmart initiative of the company’s Public Affairs Group has deployed over 200 technology packages, trained more than 2,000 teachers and reached over 60,000 students to date.
For tertiary level learners, Smart empowers colleges and universities to produce industry-ready engineering and information technology (IT) graduates through the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep). This internationally-recognized program holds the annual Sweep Awards, which presents budding technopreneurs with a platform to develop innovative applications. Now on its 19th year, the program has trained more than 36,000 engineering and IT students and teachers. Over 1,000 Sweep trainees have been directly hired under Smart’s technology group.
With the UN’s goal for decent work and economic growth, the PLDT Group also strives to promote sustainable livelihood.
PLDT-Smart’s Ka-Partner Rewards Program gives incentives to the company’s electronic or e-load sellers to help them grow their business and enhance their livelihood. The sales team-led project has produced 19 retailers-turned-millionaires as of end-2019.
Under the PLDT Community Relations and in partnership with Sew Mates of the Davao-based Philippine Eagle Foundation Conservation Program, selected indigenous women from partner communities in Mindanao were trained to make Philippine Eagle plush toys. Similarly, trainings with women of the Rural Workers Muladbucad Pequeno Association were also conducted to produce PLDT Ecobags and start businesses through a partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress and the Coalition for Bicol Development.
A joint project with the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute and Probe Media Foundation, Smart’s Digital Farmers Program (DFP) aims to expedite the agriculture sector’s adoption and use of innovative means of farming. These include the use of drones, analytics, precision farming, artificial intelligence (AI), climate and weather monitoring IT solutions, digital apps, e-money, blockchain and other multi-layer platforms. Smart has implemented DFP 101 trainings in 14 areas nationwide within its first 5 months.
The UN deems innovation as among the crucial factors to achieving sustainable development.
The LearnSmart Literacy Apps are mobile applications developed in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) regional offices and academic institutions nationwide. To date, Smart has launched 10 literacy applications featuring alphabet and number exercises, short stories, songs and games all in the mother tongue. These apps are 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), Sanut (Ilokano) and Gnare Blaan (Blaan).
The Connected Mangroves, a joint initiative of Smart and network vendor Ericsson, helps in environmental conservation by using Internet of Things or IoT solutions. These include attaching electronic sensors onto mangrove plants, which can detect and record information vital to the tree formation, such as temperature, water salinity and other factors that may be hazardous to its condition. The information is then uploaded to an online dashboard, which may be accessed by authorities and stakeholders.
Among Smart’s major disaster preparedness and response initiatives is Nokia Saving Lives (NSL), a program with the Philippine Red Cross that provides communication and technical assistance to emergency response teams. NSL includes drones with cameras and speakers that can capture real-time information on disaster areas. They can also carry items such as first aid kits.
Under the UN’s Life on Land SDG, companies such as PLDT are encouraged to help care for the planet.
Recent major tree-planting activities included PLDT Telepuno, planting 900 trees in celebration of PLDT’s 90th anniversary, at the Central Cebu Protected Landscape.
In 2019, Smart led a nationwide tree-planting activity on the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy. The company has been planting trees since 2004 to offset its greenhouse gas emissions from cellsite operations.
A homegrown innovation created by PLDT-Smart employees, the #SmartPlanet phone recycling device presents a proper way of disposing discarded mobile devices to avoid harmful effects of electronic waste on health and the environment. With electronic sensors, the bin sends out e-load in exchange for used phones, chargers and tablets. Similarly, #SmartPlanet offers a plastic bottle counterpart to the said device, with bottle-recycling bins deployed to different Smart events, such as festivals.
The PLDT Group’s CSR programs are diverse, and the challenges are daunting, but they all start with one small step. To know more about how you can be part of PLDT and Smart’s CSR activities, send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. S