Seen in photo are the students of Santa Cruz Elementary School in Maribojoc, Bohol.
PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) recently turned over two classrooms to students and teachers of Santa Cruz Elementary School in earthquake and typhoon-ravaged Bohol province.
The two-unit classroom building was constructed to answer the pressing need for classrooms in Bohol after the devastation of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013, followed closely by Super Typhoon Yolanda, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded.
PSF worked with PLDT and Smart HR to raise funds for immediate relief operations as well as long-term projects such as the construction of a multi-purpose evacuation center in Palo, Leyte, classrooms in Yolanda-affected areas, and a daycare center in Danao, Bohol.
PSF President Esther Santos commended the students and teachers of Santa Cruz ES for their resilience. “We are honored to partner with and invest in the future of such an inspiring group of people,” Santos said.
A plaque marker was unveiled at the donation ceremonies, quoting PLDT and Smart Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan: “Dare to believe that the future can be better than the past. Dare to believe that those who plant their seeds will reap their harvest. Dare to believe that whilst life after school may not be easy, there is hope. Exercise your right to dream. Accept what’s real — that which is. But better still, dream of a reality which can be.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony is attended by, from left: From L-R respectively, Chief of School Governance Operation Division of DepEd Bohol Desiderio Deligero; DepEd Bohol Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Nimfa D. Bongo; Santa Cruz Elementary School Principal Asela B. Martosillas; PSF President Ma. Esther O. Santos; and PLDT Cebu Consumer Experience Zone Head Erwin A. Rubi.
According to School Principal Asela Mortillas, “The donated classrooms are critical because Santa Cruz ES has the most number of students in Maribojoc, Bohol. These will accommodate students from Grades 5 and 6.”
Department of Education Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Nimfa Bongo underscored the importance of the newly built classrooms as a way to improve the quality of education received by every student in Santa Cruz ES. “Students will now be housed comfortably and we are expecting this to motivate them to keep attending school and lessen the dropout rates,” Bongo said.
The significance of the new classrooms is felt even more strongly by those who will be occupying them: the teachers and students.
Teacher Maria Cleofe Fuentes, who has been holding classes in makeshift rooms for over five years, related that the 2013 earthquake destroyed more than 1,200 classrooms all over the Central Visayan island, including two learning areas of Santa Cruz ES which were completely reduced to rubbles and other classrooms now in dire need of repair.
Another tragedy struck in December 2014 when a raging fire hit the school. “More classrooms were destroyed before we could even rebuild what was left by the earthquake,” Fuentes said. Being with Santa Cruz ES for over 15 years, she admitted that fellow teachers and their students struggled to cope with the aftermath of the back-to-back tragedies.
In spite of the misfortunes, Fuentes and the other teachers have remained resilient as they continue to find ways of improving the learning conditions in their school. “The two-unit classroom building is indeed a blessing to the school. I’m happy that our students will finally be able to attend classes in proper classrooms,” Fuentes said.
Funded by donations from PLDT and Smart employees as well as other corporate donors, the brand-new building was designed and constructed under the supervision of PLDT Property and Facilities Management Group.