Passion for education

Filipino Taipans accompanied President Aquino in his China trip. Their main purpose was to help generate trade and investments. However, I will not write on their business acumen but digress a little and take up their passion for education.

Big John at 85. To celebrate his 85th birthday last month, John Gokongwei Jr. donated P250 million to the De La Salle University, which in turn honored him by naming its technology affiliate, the Gokongwei College of Engineering.

When I kidded him why he gave “only” P200 million to the John Gokongwei School of Management at Ateneo de Manila University during his 80th birthday, the taipan gamely replied, “Well, that was five years ago. Taking inflation into account, I think the amounts would roughly be equal to each other.”

During his 85th, Big John also donated P15 million to the Aklat, Gabay, Aruga tungo sa Pag-angat at Pag-asa (AGAPP) Foundation, headed by Pinky Aquino-Abellada, for the construction of 18 preschool buildings.

Earlier, on July 11, 2011, De La Salle honored posthumously its outstanding alumnus, Ramon V. del Rosario (RVR) by renaming its college of business, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. It cited the late ambassador’s “catalytic role in Philippine business” for, among others, founding the first Filipino oil company, the Filoil Refinery Corp.

RVR also founded the Phinma Group. Engaged in construction, sugar, food and paper manufacturing, and now led by Oscar J. Hilado and Ramon R. del Rosario Jr., Phinma has taken control of four institutions of higher learning, University of Iloilo, University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City, Araullo University in Cabanatuan City and Cagayan de Oro College. It also leads the Philippine Business for Education that grants 1,000 scholarships yearly to teachers.

Wash at 90. President Aquino awarded the Order of Lakandula, rank of bayani, to Washington Sycip, founder of Sycip, Gorres and Velayo (SGV) during the latter’s 90th birthday last month. Sycip’s passion is “to help transform basic education in collaboration with local governments, parents and the private sector” through the Synergeia Foundation.

Now, Sycip is focused on basic learning for the masses, having already attended to higher education by founding the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), with generous endowments from the Ayala Corporation and the Eugenio Lopez Foundation.

Relevantly, Oscar M. Lopez, the 81-year-old patriarch of the Lopez Group, recently gave P25 million to refurbish and refurnish AIM. Earlier, the Lopez Group donated the land for the Ateneo Professional Schools in Rockwell, Makati and the Ateneo College of Medicine in Pasig.

Other tycoons have shown their deep passion for education by acquiring schools that dispense quality education at least cost for the masses. Thus, Henry Sy, the wealthiest Filipino, took over National University; Lucio Tan, the second wealthiest, the University of the East; Alfonso Yuchengco, the Mapua Institute of Technology; and Emilio T. Yap, the Centro Escolar University.

Tony Tan Caktiong’s Jollibee Foundation, headed by his wife Grace, has a Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) feeding program that addresses hunger daily and continuously among Grades 1 and 2 pupils in 232 schools in 32 towns and cities, and grants scholarships in hotel and restaurant management, plus 15-month technical skills training in Don Bosco.

Lourdes Reyes Montinola and his son, Aurelio Montinola III (president of the Bank of the Philippine Islands), continuously elevate, with the help of FEU president Lydia Echauz, the standards of their family heirloom, Far Eastern University. Incidentally, FEU is the alma mater of taipans Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and Ramon S. Ang, president of the San Miguel Corp.

Outstanding teachers. For his part, taipan George S.K. Ty concentrates on the annual “Search for Outstanding Teachers.” Though his Metrobank Foundation also awards outstanding soldiers, policemen, artists, etc., the centerpiece of his philanthropy is the teaching profession. His yearly grant for the foundation’s programs totals P100 million.

The search is conducted nationwide, with the finalists flown to Manila and interviewed individually by the board of judges. The awardees each receive a gold medal, a trophy and a cash prize of P350,000.

A few days ago, President Aquino conferred the gold medals in Malacañang on this year’s winners: Marcela E. Jingco (Angeles Elementary School in Angeles City), Lora E. Añar (Bukidnon State University in Malaybalay City), Teodora D. Conde (Andres Bonifacio Elementary School in Manila), Djhoane C. Aguilar (Panabo Central Elementary School in Panabo City), Chelo C. Tangan (Cagayan National High School in Tuguegarao City), Buenaventura D. Luces (Lucasan National High School in Tiaong, Quezon), Vilma C. Ambat (Baguio City National High School in Baguio), Maricel S. Franco (Nueva Vizcaya General Comprehensive High School in Bayongbong, Nueva Vizcaya), Jericho Thaddeus P. Luna (University of the Philippines in Manila) and Allan B. de Guzman (University of Santo Tomas in Manila).

These 10 joined 296 other awardees in the Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators (NOTED). Organized in 1997, NOTED conducts teacher training programs nationwide, develops instructional materials and teaching modules, and holds tri-level teacher conferences all over the country.

At another time, I will write about the passion for education of our other Filipino tycoons, like Manuel V. Pangilinan, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Ramon S. Ang.

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