GUAGUA -- A local business giant on Friday awarded P4 million worth of scholarships and educational assistance to some 30 Aetas from Porac town and to hundreds of indigents.

House of David Group (HDG) scholars will be studying at its subsidiary Mary the Queen College Pampanga (MQCP).

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The academic awards and financial assistance packages form part of the conglomerate's "Handog Karunungan" program, ventured into with subsidiary Bank of Florida and HDG companies House of David Investment and Management Corporation (HDIMC), House of David Realty Development Corporation, Mary the Queen Academy of Pampanga, DA Market Securities, Inc. and its corporate social responsibility arm House of David Foundation, Inc.

MQCP president Michael Lapid said the scholars comprise the second batch of awardees this year, enrolled in the college's various programs like accountancy, information science, hotel and restaurant management, secondary education, and business administration.

"We are very happy and proud that our Aeta students have been able to immerse and embrace our culture. Here, they are really looking forward to a good future," Lapid said, noting of the increase in the school's enrollment from a mere 88 students when it opened in 2003 to more than 1,400 this school year. The college is known to be the first private school to open doors to indigenous people (IP).

MQCP vice-president and HDIMC executive vice-president Teresa David Carlos, for her part, told the students and their parents that the scholarships was the group's, as well as the David family's way of sharing their blessings and reaching out to needy communities.

"With God's help, we can help you get a brighter future," she said.

She added the grants come "with no strings attached." Many of the scholars-graduates have since been hired by HDG.

In response, scholar representative Marly Yutuc assured the benefactors that they will strive hard in their studies in order to help other students later on.

"Puno po kami ngayon ng pag-asa. Asahan po ninyo na kami ay magsisikap upang matupad an gaming mga pangarap at tulad ninyo, ang adhikaing makatulong sa ibang tao," she said.(Jovi T. De Leon)