Since its new management assumed office in July 2010, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has taken on a more meaningful role other than regulating games of chance in the country and generating revenues for the Philippine Government.
In less than two years of the Aquino administration, PAGCOR has emerged as one of – if not the biggest – CSR organizations in the Philippines today, funding life-changing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects for the Filipino youth.
Building lives through a thousand classrooms
Among PAGCOR’s biggest funded projects is the “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan” project in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd). PAGCOR earmarked P1 billion for the project for the construction of 1,000 classrooms nationwide.
Chairman and CEO Bong Naguiat shares that PAGCOR’s foray into the school buildings project is the agency’s way of helping the Aquino administration address the country’s perennial problem on the shortage of classrooms. Per DepEd’s records, there is a massive backlog of over 70,500 classrooms in public schools nationwide as of 2011.
“We know that there is a long way to go in solving this problem. The 1,000 classrooms that will be built using PAGCOR funds will reduce the total shortage by less than 2%. Still, we hope this will go a long way in providing thousands of our public elementary and high school students studying with sturdy structures that will make their schooling more comfortable and conducive to learning,” says Naguiat.
“We believe in the importance of education, that it can be a family’s way out of poverty. So building these classrooms is much like helping our poor school children to have the chance to make their lives better and give them a better future through education,” added the PAGCOR Chief.
New seats of learning
The state-owned gaming corporation also allocated an initial funding of P100 million for the Pnoy Bayanihan project. The program, which is in partnership with DepEd, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), intends to manufacture thousands of school desks out of hot logs confiscated from illegal loggers.
“We are making the problem on illegal logging a solution to address the lack in school desks. It is like returning to the nation these logs that were illicitly taken by illegal loggers,” Naguiat points out.
As of 2010, the total backlog in armchairs stood at 5.38 million nationwide – 3.7 million for elementary public schools and 1.68 million in public high schools. DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said the Pnoy Bayanihan project aims to end this backlog by June 2013. “Hindi na natin hihintayin pang matapos ang term ng ating mahal na Pangulo bago tuluyang masolusyunan ang problemang ito. Agad nating tatapusin ito sa susunod na taon. (We will no longer wait for the end of the President’s term before solving this problem. We will immediately finish this backlog next year.)”
Secretary Luistro also thanked PAGCOR for bankrolling the Pnoy Bayanihan project. “Hulog po ng Diyos sa DepEd, DENR at TESDA si Chairman Naguiat at ang PAGCOR (Chairman Naguiat and PAGCOR are heaven-sent to DepEd, DENR and TESDA)” he said. The agency’s initial P100 million funding for the project was utilized for the retrofitting of existing TESDA and DepEd facilities. It also financed the woodworking facilities established by TESDA in 10 sites nationwide.
To date, a total of 6,596 armchairs have been donated to 10 public schools since the project’s roll-out in March 21, 2011.
The first recipient was the Ramon Magsaysay High School in Cubao, Quezon City which got 500 new chairs. The donation enabled the school to attain a zero backlog in their school desks requirements.
Nine public schools in the CARAGA Region also got new chairs from the Pnoy Bayanihan project. They are the Butuan Central Elementary School (1,900 armchairs), the Agusan National High School (2,000), the Butuan City School of Arts and Trades (800), La Trinidad Elementary School (450), San Vicente Elementary School (350), Villa Kanangga Elementary School (260), Libertad Elementary School (186), Ong Yiu Elementary School (100), and Kinamlutan Elementary School (50).
TESDA Secretary General Joel Villanueva, for his part, stated that around 15,000 chairs are still due for delivery to other schools. “By April, depende sa delivery ng logs ng DENR, sinisiguro po namin na zero backlog na ang buong CARAGA Region pagdating sa armchairs (By April, depending on the delivery of logs by the DENR, we will ensure that the entire CARAGA region will already have a zero backlog in armchairs),” he vowed. TESDA is presently looking at other provinces that have needs for additional armchairs like Isabela and Quezon.
Chasing the World Cup dream
The country’s long journey to an ambitious stint in the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup also got a big boost from PAGCOR as the agency shelled out P20 million in support of the Philippine Football Federation’s (PFF) “Kasibulan” project.
A grassroots development program, the Kasibulan project aims to discover and develop potential football talents from the grassroots level through a seven-year development plan (2012 to 2019). It targets Filipino football enthusiasts aged 6 to 12 years old, and the ultimate goal is for the Philippines to qualify for the FIFA Under17 Cup 2019.
“With the rising popularity of football in the country, it’s high time that we promote a grassroots sports development program like Kasibulan that will aid further in stimulating the interest of our younger generation in football. We believe the Philippines stands a good chance of regaining lost glory in the arena of international sports through the game of football,” notes PAGCOR Chairman Naguiat.
“Dito manggagaling ang bagong henerasyon ng magagaling na Pinoy football players na tatawagin nating mga Batang Azkals (From this program will emerge the new generation of excellent Filipino football players whom we will call Kid Azkals). We hope that through this project, we will be able to produce more competitive sportsmen and further raise the bar of Philippine sports,” he added.
No less than FIFA Vice President for Asia and Executive Committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan graced the launching event of the Kasibulan project last February 11, which also formally introduced the Philippines as the pilot site of football development in the Asian region.
“We have chosen to launch the Asian Football Development Program in the Philippines because we see its potential to become globally competitive in the sport. Through the valuable support of agencies like PAGCOR to the PFF, the Philippines will one day realize its dream of figuring in a major football event like the World Cup,” Prince Al-Hussein explained.
This is not the first time that PAGCOR is funding a project related to the promotion of the football game. Last year, the agency also gave a P2 million financial assistance to Team Azkals relative to its participation in several international competitions.