Bunye: Brigada ng Ayala

I WOULD like to congratulate Ayala Foundation whose flagship project "Brigada ng Ayala" was recently recognized by an international publication as the "best CSR initiative" in the Philippines.

Brigada ng Ayala is the Ayala group's unified effort to support the Department of Education's BrigadaEskwela and OplanBalikEskwela programs. International Business Magazine, a Dubai, UAE-based publication, cited the Ayala group's continuing efforts to support teachers and students in the public education system.

The International Business Magazine Awards recognize "best in class achievements pertaining to budding industrial talent, global leaders, corporates... across various spheres related with the international business and finance arena." This year's set of awardees represent various industries and businesses in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.

Spearheaded by Ayala Foundation and supported by the Ayala Group Human Resources Council and Ayala Community for Social Impact, Brigadang Ayala is the group's effort to rally its 50,000-plus-strong citizens to serve public schools through volunteerism activities.

Brigadang Ayala is one of the expressions of the Ayala group's continuing commitment to national development in the Philippines.

"We at Ayala Foundation are grateful for this recognition, especially because it came as we are celebrating our 60th anniversary," said Ayala Foundation President Ruel Maranan. "Brigada ng Ayala is our unified and sustained way of assisting our teachers and students in the public education system. Our education programs, including Brigada ng Ayala, serve as an expression of our continuing faith in the Filipino."

Several runs of Brigada ng Ayala were conducted in previous years. Every year, the number of supporters and participants grew.

In 2020, even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brigada ng Ayala continued to serve public schools all over the country. This time, Brigada ng Ayala sought to address some of the urgent needs of teachers and students during the "new normal" of education. These included the provision of health and hygiene kits, the provision of hand-washing facilities, and access to online resources.

As of January 2021, over 258 schools have been served, reaching at least 5,600 teachers and 21,000 students, and resources valued at P181.5 million have been deployed.

In addition, the Department of Education itself has officially recognized the Ayala group's contribution to education. In the last five years alone, the Ayala group has invested over P500 million in terms of support for the public education system.

In three separate occasions, Ayala Foundation distributed at least 2,100 learning and hygiene kits as well as home prepaid WiFi kits for students and teachers in Batangas, Quezon, and Rizal.

In Batangas, Ayala Foundation led the turnover of 500 health and hygiene kits called "EduCare kits" to the Batangas provincial government. Aside from the EduCare kits, the Ayala group also turned over boxes of food, 7,500 disposable face masks, and 200 (personal protective equipment) gowns to aid the province's Covid-19 response.

In the municipality of Balete, Batangas, the Brigada ng Ayala initiative turned over 300 EduCare kits and 22 units of Globe at Home prepaid Wi-Fi devices.

Mayor Wilson Maralit and Vice Mayor Alvin Payo of Balete, Batangas, personally received the donations on behalf of the municipality.

"Umaasa ako na marami pa kayong matutulungan na ating mga kababayang mahihirap, 'di lamang sa bayan ng Balete, kundi sa buong Pilipinas," said Maralit.

A total of 800 EduCare Kits were distributed during the Quezon Province leg of Brigada ng Ayala in April 2021.

In Quezon, 800 EduCare kits were endorsed to the Provincial Governor's Office, the Municipality of Sariaya, and Barangay Tumabaga, also in Sariaya. Six home prepaid WiFi kits were endorsed for distribution to select learners, as well as 2,500 face masks.

In Pililla, Rizal, the Ayala group turned over 500 EduCare kits, through the Municipal Mayor's Office and Barangay Wawa. Fifteen Globe home prepaid WiFi kits were also distributed. Representatives from AC Energy also joined the distribution of Brigada ng Ayala kits in Pililla.

The recipients expressed their appreciation for the Brigada ng Ayala kits. Kier Asis, a computer science major from Batangas and one of the recipients of the Globe prepaid WiFi kits, said: "Hindi po maiinterrupt ang aming pagvivideo call at mabilis po (ang internet). Nagpapasalamat po ako sa Globe at Home for giving us the gift of learning."

Earlier this year, Ayala Foundation supervised the distribution of Brigada ng Ayala EduCare packs and Globe prepaid WiFi kits in Cagayan de Oro City; Cebu; El Nido, Palawan; and Catbalogan, Samar. Ayala Foundation is scheduled to conduct additional Brigada ng Ayala distribution activities in April and May. Among the locations are Albay, Catanduanes, Marinduque, Cagayan, and Isabela.

For 60 years, Ayala Foundation has been serving communities all over the country through programs that promote education, sustainable livelihood, and love of country. I am proud to have been once associated with the Foundation, when it was still known as the Filipinas Foundation Inc. (FFI). Under Executive Director Tomas "Buddy" Gomez III, FFI established the Ayala Museum which has a permanent exhibit of dioramas depicting defining moments in Philippine history. FFI supported scholars in vocational and technical education. It also assisted research which produced important policy papers, eg., "An Anatomy of Muslim Affairs in the Philippines" and "The Filipinos in America."

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