MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Leading mobile services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is putting the spotlight on its long-running community partnership and corporate social responsibility programs to inspire Filipinos to commit to “personal revolutions” to generate a lasting positive impact to society.
Over 100 Filipino celebrities and influencers have also joined in, pushing their respective advocacies to spark a conversation with their communities and followers on how to “Live Smarter for a Better World”.
“This campaign is one of the biggest initiatives produced by Smart advocating personal revolutions that inspire collective action,” said Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio.
“Being the country’s largest integrated telecommunications company has put us in the best position to give back to society, through CSR programs that leverage on our expertise, digital technology, and robust network – the fastest in the Philippines,” he said.
“Going big doesn’t happen overnight. This is a big effort by the company to signify our work in improving customer experience. We have made a lot of investments to ensure that our service is world-class, and keep a strong focus on our north star, which is customer-centricity,” Panlilio added.
Jane J. Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart, emphasized how big and small efforts can contribute to making a better world, highlighting the importance of Smart’s network and services in keeping Filipinos connected and empowered. “This is the driving force that has kept us going. It has always been in our DNA to serve and improve the lives of Filipino people—not just our customers,” she said.
Addressing questions from media, Lloyd Manaloto, Smart FVP for Corporate Marketing and Strategy, said the campaign’s message is that everyone can be a hero. “It’s a very powerful story–it’s all about personal revolutions and advocacies. When an individual pursues their advocacy and inspires other people to also follow, it becomes a collective. It becomes more powerful,” he said. “In that sense, everyone can become a hero.”
Darwin F. Flores, Head for Community Partnerships at Smart, underscored Smart’s continuous mission of enabling communities using technology, especially in the areas of education and agriculture, which have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Flores highlighted two of Smart’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, School-in-a-Bag and Buy Local campaign, which are solutions aimed at bridging the digital divide.
“School-in-a-Bag and Buy Local are just examples of how simple solutions can make a difference in the world. And we can do this together, forged by our connections, while also pursuing independent initiatives that help make our homes, our community, our country, and the world a better place to live in for us and for the future generations,” Flores said.
Flores also highlighted Smart’s efforts in helping students continue learning despite the challenges of the pandemic. “We are working very closely with the Department of Education to ensure quality learning continues despite a distance learning environment. Last year, we conducted an online forum to over 400,000 teachers across the country, on a disaster-resilient, low-cost yet effective teaching strategy that promotes independent learning. It is our contribution towards ensuring that No Learner Gets Left Behind during this crisis,” Flores said.
Over 75,000 student-beneficiaries
The School-in-a-Bag is designed to provide access to technology, connectivity, content, and a disaster-resilient pedagogy even for schools in remote areas without electricity. Each water-resistant backpack carries a laptop and pocket WiFi for the teacher and 10-20 tablets for the students, all pre-loaded with interactive, multimedia content accessible even if offline.
Through various initiatives implemented with PLDT and with the support of external organizations, Smart deployed 86 School-in-a-Bag packages in 2020 alone. Since its launch in 2016, close to 300 bags have been deployed, benefiting over 75,000 students and more than 2,500 teachers in last-mile communities. True to the company’s commitment to helping the Philippines attain the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with SDG #4: Quality Education as a key area, education continues to be the flagship CSR program throughout the PLDT group, with a strong emphasis on digital literacy.
Championing Corporate ‘RICE’ponsibility, the “Buy Local, Buy Smart” initiative enjoins employees of PLDT, Smart, and its sister companies to buy their produce directly from local farming communities. By providing a sure and direct market for their produce, Smart is helping small-scale farmers earn more. Through the program, a sustainability fund for farmers is also established. For every purchase of rice from store.cropital.com, up to Php100 goes to funding their next planting cycle.
Since launching the online initiative in November 2020, 200 farmers have been supported with sales of more than Php 1.2 million from 27 tons of rice orders. The program is Smart’s contribution to Sustainable Development Goal #1 of No Poverty, especially for the marginalized farming communities.
Smart’s other initiatives also include building a culture of disaster resilience among communities with its #SafePH campaign, enhancing tourism through digital innovation with its Digital Tourism efforts, and preserving nature through mobile and communications technologies with its various environmental protection programs.
Local celebs for a #BetterWorld
Among the celebrities to push their advocacies under the #BetterWorld campaign is TV personality and host Luis Manzano, who shares how his passion for the ocean has led him to work with WWF-Philippines to help spread awareness about trash in the sea. “Let’s keep garbage away from the beautiful waters. What are you prepared to do to make the world better?” he says.
“We all have the opportunity to create positive change in our community. We have to stick with what we love doing and encourage people to do the same,” says Januarius Paglinawan, whose love for football spawned the Agriko Youth Football Club, a football clinic for youth in the agricultural town of Dumingag in Zamboanga del Sur. Along with his siblings, Paglinawan is also passionate about helping develop local talent. “We started a movement to help enhance local talent and develop their skills to be able to reach a global platform making it adaptable to our ever-growing environment.”
Meanwhile, musician Nina Juan is using her platform to advocate for animal welfare and sustainable living. “There are so many ways to show your love and respect for animals, and adopting is one of them! Rather than shopping in stores that promote breeding and exploiting innocent animals, make a choice and adopt or take in a stray,” she says. “Whether it be eating less meat, buying sustainable products, or adopting a stray, we all have a choice to make this world a better place. Are you ready to take up that challenge?”
For more information, visit http://betterworld.smart/