Academe-corporate partnership expands reach of community work

June 24, 2012

Partnership is a key ingredient in community work.

The need of Springhills Elementary School (SES) at barangay Apugan, Loakan Proper for a multi-purpose stage enabled the University of the Cordilleras' Project HELEN to start an alliance with cement and aggregate manufacturer Holcim Philippines.

Through their Bacnotan, La Union plant, Holcim has pledged to donate forty bags of cement for the stage construction. While Project HELEN had launched fund-raising initiatives to seed the SES stage project prior to the Holcim meeting, the newly formed alliance enabled the university to expand the reach of its community arm towards the province of La Union through the UC Mobile Library and Reading program.

Holcim's commitment to provide construction inputs encouraged talks about responding to the needs of the firm's neighboring communities in the province. Bacnotan municipality where the plant is located, and the adjacent coastal municipalities of Luna and Bangar - three towns constituting a school district, was identified by Holcim as recipients of UC's Mobile Library and Reading program's initial donation of books outside the Cordillera region.

At least 15,000 volumes of books acquired through the Children's International Philippines Inc. (CIPI) a non-government community development organization, were shipped to Holcim's Bacnotan headquarters where some 50 teachers acting as their school's library designates, were met by UC and Holcim officials for the books' turnover last May 18.

A daylong seminar on basic library administration, as well as a motivational teaching skills lecture delivered by the UC team headed by vice president for administration Dr. Leonarda R. Aguinalde, chief librarian Cheryl T. Roldan and university librarians Jo-Ann Batulan, Josie Obra and Helen Sumerbang supplemented the distribution of books to 17 public and private schools in the Bacnotan district.

Holcim plant manager and vice president for operations Engr. Andrew White said they were "happy when UC offered to provide the books for the school district." He explained that among the initiatives of Holcim as it marks its centennial this year, is education. White said the firm approached this through a proposal that all of its 70,000 employees worldwide shall put one child to school.

He said the book donation only firmed up Holcim's endeavors for education because it allows them "to promote this through a community initiative." Bacnotan schools district supervisor Susana J. Millares said they are "lucky to receive gifts" of books from UC and CIPI. She said books of the quality that came from UC "are not easy to acquire because of limited resources." Millares describes the books as "quality resource materials for both students and teachers."

UC's continuing initiative to share institutional resources, competencies and knowledge recalls the founding principles of the university, articulated by UC's founder Atty. Benjamin Romero Salvosa that "education is a shield against the inadequacy, intolerance and slavery of the mind."

The Mobile Library and Reading program is a means to fulfill Atty. Salvosa's intention that UC (founded as the Baguio Colleges on June 19, 1946) and its constituents "shall be agents of change and development wherever you will go." Project HELEN (for Health, Education, Livelihood, Environment and Nurturance) facilitates the university's community initiatives and is named after UC's co-founder, Evangelina "Helen" D. Salvosa who was a nurse (U.P G.N., 1932) by profession.

Teacher Lilia Hufalar said she was touched by UC's gesture enough to renew her dedication to teaching as a profession, and to treat her students "not as pupils, but my own children."

Atty. Salvosa, who believed that "education is a birthright" wrote in the 1968 yearbook edition of the BCF student paper "The Gold Ore," that the educated youth shall "change the countryside and the cities into better places for yourselves and your children to live in."

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