Alsons Power allots P6.5M for community scholars in Mindanao
Alsons Consolidated Resources, Inc.  Chairman and President Tomas I Alcantara (center) and Alsons Power Chief Executive Officer Tirso G. Santillan, Jr. (left)  distribute school supplies to students of the Mangelen Integrated School in Maasim, Sarangani. The Alsons Power Group has earmarked a total of P6.5 million for its scholarship program this upcoming school year 2015-2016 in several communities in Mindanao.

The Alsons Power Group has earmarked a total of P6.5 million for its scholarship program this upcoming school year 2015-2016 in several communities in Mindanao. The scholarship program benefits the host and neighboring communities of the group’s various power facilities including: the Southern Philippines Power Corporation (SPPC) in Alabel, Sarangani Province; the Sarangani Energy Corp. (SEC) in Maasim, Sarangani Province; and the Western Mindanao Power Corporation (WMPC) and San Ramon Power Inc. (SRPI) in Zamboanga City.

From the budget of P6.5 million to be utilized next school year , P3 million has been allocated to scholars of SPPC in Sarangani Province while P1.7 million was granted to WMPC scholars in Zamboanga City. For the current school year 2014-2015 SPPC supports 204 high school and 58 college students while WMPC has a total of 145 high school scholars and 36 college scholars.

Some 4,000 students from host and neighboring communities that include 17 barangays in the municipalities of   Alabel, Maasim, and Malapatan in Sarangani Province and five barangays in Zamboanga City, have benefitted from the  Alsons Power Group’s scholarship program since its inception in 2001.

Joel Aton, SEC Project Assurance Manager, noted the positive impact that the program has on the communities. “The scholarship program has been a lot of help, for instance in Sarangani Province (where the municipality of Alabel is located), which was one of the top 10 poorest provinces of the Philippines in 2005. A lot of children cannot afford to go to school so they look for scholarship grants, and Alsons was one of the first to help in this aspect. Starting with Alabel, we eventually extended the program to the nearby municipality of Malapatan also in Sarangani” Aton said.

Among those aided by the scholarship program is 20-year-old Sheila Baring, now a graduating student of BS Education major in Biology from Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in Zamboanga City. Her father, the family breadwinner, died in an accident when she was in elementary, leaving her mother to take care of her and a sibling.

“My mother told me she was not sure if she could send me to school, or if I could even reach high school or college at all. For eight years – from 1st year high school until now when I am about to graduate, it was WMPC that helped me with tuition expenses, allowance, uniforms and books,” shared Sheila in the vernacular.  

The scholars also participate in the company’s various community relations projects and advocacies spearheaded by the Alsons Power Group. They also serve as mentors for the Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation Inc.’s summer reading camp, helping pupils from Grades 1 to 3 improve their reading and comprehension skills.

The scholars are also provided the opportunity to hone their skills through the company’s on-the-job training program, with job opportunities available in relevant business units of the company.

“We’re preparing them for a bigger community that will develop in the area. Our vision is for the areas to have a properly educated population and we will have plenty of job-ready, skilled residents, and this should invite more investments in the area knowing that there’s ready manpower that can fill in the requirements. In 3-5 years, we foresee a lot of investments coming into the area. The scholarship program will segue perfectly into community development,” Ruben Tungpalan, Alsons Power Group’s Corporate Affairs and Community Relations head, stated.

Data from the National Statistics Office indicates that certain parts of Mindanao have literacy rates that are 15 percentage points below the national literacy rate of 97.5 percent.