At its core, the COVID-19 pandemic is a humanitarian crisis. Behind the losses in productivity and economic activity are millions of people who have lost their income, have been displaced or left isolated by lockdown measures, and — worst of all — have suffered losses or died because of the virus.
It is during these times that those with the most influence have the duty and obligation to help their fellow man. Metrobank, as one of the country’s biggest and most successful companies, is doing its part through Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI).
In celebration of Metrobank’s 59th anniversary, this year’s batch of beneficiary organizations received financial aid to implement programs on health, education, livelihood, and sustainable feeding during the virtual George S.K. Ty Grants Turnover.
“Over the past months, while the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world and challenged economies and millions of lives, Metrobank Foundation did not waver on hope, no matter how elusive it proved to be. We believe that nurturing this hope, amid dire circumstances that threaten to defeat it, is the most vital thing we can all do,” Aniceto M. Sobrepena, president of MBFI, said in the company’s 2020 Annual Report.
MBFI continued to utilize its influence by implementing initiatives for social good. All this was achieved through various collaborations with institutional partners, formalized to mobilize efforts towards supporting communities, frontliners, and the government.
Saluting the Filipino spirit
In the past, the MBFI championed this effort by honoring the best of the best public servants in the country, whose service and community involvements have helped shape better Filipino communities and have created a lasting positive impact upon the people.
This year, the Foundation continued this tradition by awarding the 2021 Metrobank Outstanding Filipinos — composed of four teachers, three soldiers, and three police officers — with P1 million cash prize, a gold medallion, and ‘The Flame’ trophy.
MADE CARES is part of the Metrobank Foundation’s initiatives to reach out and assist Filipino painters and sculptors whose means of livelihood were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The long-running Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) also continued despite the difficulties of the pandemic. On its 37th year, MADE adopted the theme “Spectrum: The Art of Possibilities,” inviting every Filipino artist to tap into the expansive realm of creativity and transpose their spectrum of ideas into works that mirror the human experience and reshape the world anew.
Moreover, MADE maximized social media to continue its advocacy through a yearlong #SpectrumMADE2021 campaign, bringing art experience and art education to stakeholders through a series of online activities such as webinars and artist’s talks.
A cash assistance program dubbed as MADE CARES (Community Aid and Relief for Emergency Situations) was also implemented, benefitting over 200 artists from the P1-million financial aid.
Supporting health, education
With the challenges brought by the pandemic, MBFI adapted to the changing needs of its target beneficiaries by supporting programs with a holistic approach and multi-sectoral collaborations. Testifying to such support, MBFI has recently given away P15 million worth of grants to 12 social development partners during the virtual “George S.K. Ty Grants Turnover,” to implement their programs on health, education, livelihood, and sustainable feeding.
Through its collaboration with LCF and MWF in 2020, MBFI was able to construct 10 handwashing facilities and distribute 2,000 hygiene kits which benefit more than 31,000 individuals.
Initially proposed as a way of keeping schools safe during the pandemic by installing proper hand hygiene facilities modified in compliance with the government health and safety protocols, the Helping Hands WASH initiative of MBFI through and in partnership with Manila Water Foundation is now extending to public spaces like government hospitals and public markets.
For its education-centric initiatives, MBFI has donated equipment such as risograph machines, photocopiers, and printers to schools. Made in partnership with the Department of Education, the donation of equipment under Phase 2 of Project TEACH (Taking-up Education Access Challenges with a Heart) aims to support schools within high-risk areas and far-flung communities during the pandemic in their printing of learning modules for public students. The project has reached 59 schools in 2020 and will reach additional 45 schools by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, non-tuition support for students were granted in the form of internet accessibility in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas and digitalized blended learning modules for early learners. Through St. Vincent Seminary, 200 students in Pollilo Island, Quezon Province benefited from an internet scholarship for 10 months. Meanwhile, by supporting Communications Foundation for Asia’s project on Digitalized Blended Learning Modules for early learners, 125 students in Caloocan City will receive digitalized modules that will facilitate their learning without interruption due to unstable internet connections.
Sustainable feeding, livelihood
MBFI also led food augmentation programs that supported the agricultural sector, as well as feeding programs which do not only benefit the indigent families but also support others who were greatly affected by the pandemic such as local farmers and jeepney drivers.
These programs include the Ateneo Center for Educational Development’s Food Augmentation Program, which supports 100 indigent high school students of Bagong Silangan High School in Quezon City and their families; Kids International Ministries (KIM) Meals and Values Program, meanwhile, benefitting 15,000 individuals every week for one year from its communities in Mindoro, Antipolo, and Tondo; Yellow Boat of Hope Seeds of Hope, providing gardening seeds for communities, particularly in Bulacan, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, and Masbate; and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction’s Gulayan sa Barangay Kontra-COVID community garden program.
YBH Foundation has been a long-time ally of MBFI in sustaining a vision that endures beyond the pandemic. From donating boats to building classrooms, dormitories, bridges, and supporting locals’ livelihood projects — all geared towards exploring ways to better aid children in pursuing education.
MBFI has also taken the initiative to seek out sustainable interventions to augment the impact the pandemic has had on livelihood as well as to respond to the growing challenge of food access.
These efforts manifested in the support of Lokal Lab’s project to teach 50 women farmers, producers, and artisans financial skills and digital programs that will help sustain their local vegetable business as well as their household income. This is coupled as well by Care Philippines’ project to provide 250 households with livelihood starter kits. In addition to this, the aGAP sa Batangas project will teach households sustainable vegetable production techniques and various resilience strategies as they continue to cope with the pandemic, while training roving agents to facilitate support and act as mentors to the beneficiaries after the project is concluded.
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