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Metrobank Foundation donated PhP18 million to Southern Philippines Medical Center through Ateneo de Davao University for the establishment of a molecular laboratory in Davao City. Photo above shows the proposed design of the facility. Once constructed and equipped, it will be able to run 200 samples per day with a turn-around time of three operating days.

Sustaining its mission to aid the government in responding to the need for expanded testing for COVID-19 and for other emerging and re-emerging infections, the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) signs a memorandum of agreement with Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) for the construction of a fully equipped molecular laboratory with negative pressure at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City. MBFI donated an amount of PhP 18 million to construct the laboratory, capable of testing 200 samples per day for an 8-hour shift and with a result turn-around time of three operating days.

A virtual signing ceremony was held on October 1 with the presence of MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepeña, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, AdDU president Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, and SPMC OIC Medical Center Chief Dr. Ricardo Audan.

The facility will be established and operated in accordance with all applicable laws, including the standards of the DOH, Food and Drug Administration, and other applicable regulatory agencies and shall be accredited by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) as a COVID-19 laboratory facility.

To date, MBFI has supported the construction and equipping of 10 molecular laboratories in the country amounting to a total of PhP61 million. These include the largest molecular laboratory capable of detecting COVID-19 and other contagious diseases at the former Philippine Red Cross Headquarters in Port Area Manila. MBFI also supported the “Test, Trace, and Treat” Network through the Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc., the healthcare arm of the Ayala Group, in building seven Biosafety Level 2 modular laboratories in Qualimed hospitals. Another molecular laboratory will soon be inaugurated at the Manila Doctors Hospital through a donation from GT Foundation—the Ty family foundation.

Said donation is part of the consolidated PhP220 million contribution of Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings to fund and support efforts to combat the pandemic and help those in need. The financial assistance has covered the following: purchase of personal protective equipment for healthcare and security frontliners; donation of RT-PRC testing kits, through Manila HealthTek, to select government hospitals; support for “Project Ugnayan” led by the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation; distribution of meals and food packs to underprivileged families; donation of antibody rapid test kits through GoNegosyo’s Project ARK; construction of molecular laboratories; and donation of 30 units of Toyota Vios to DOH for the mobility of healthcare frontliners and local government hospitals, among others.

The National Teachers’ Month (NTM) held from September 5 to October 5 carries on with the tradition of honoring the significant role of educators in society. With the theme “I teach for a better future,” the celebration puts the spotlight on teachers who are at the center of the reforms and innovations as the whole nation navigates a new normal—with their commitment to ensure continuity of learning among students stronger than ever.

Every year, the NTM celebrations are led by Metrobank Foundation, Inc., the Department of Education (DepEd), and a consortium of organizations from the government, business, academe, media, civil society, and other industries. This 2020, it once again engages the public to honor the teaching profession and say thank you to their teachers, mentors, and coaches in a month of appreciation.

This 12-year movement began in 2008 when former DepEd secretary and currently De La Salle Philippines president Br. Armin Luistro conferred with Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña and proposed the idea of a month-long observation to heighten public consciousness and participation in the World Teacher’s Day celebration every October 5.

What began as a simple idea has evolved into a nationwide movement. Since its inception, NTM marked several milestones: in 2011, Presidential Proclamation No. 242 was signed, officially declaring “the period from September 5 to October 5 of every year as National Teachers Month.” In 2016, the Republic Act No. 1073 was also signed, formally designating “October 5 of every year as National Teachers’ Day” which likewise serves as the culminating event of NTM.

Different activities, same celebration

The NTM activities and treats for teachers might be different this time around but the purpose that drives the campaign has not changed.

Throughout the month, partners and other participating organizations organize their own events and offer exclusive treats for teachers. Among those providing opportunities for personal and professional development through webinars and virtual workshops are Microsoft Philippines, Knowledge Channel Foundation, World Vision Foundation, City Savings Bank, Synergeia Foundation, Bato Balani Foundation, Pru Life UK, Globe MyBusiness, and Smart Communications.

Further, some organizations are running specialized events. Museo Pambata Foundation is hosting a teachers’ online party and Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) is inviting the public to write to their teachers through a letter-writing contest.

Meanwhile, several companies are also offering special treats and discounts. These include the Philippine Business for Social Progress, Enchanted Kingdom, Manila Doctors Hospital, and Global Eyecare Center Davao.

Interested teachers may check their social media channels for more information on the said events and treats.

Towards a better future for Filipinos

The pandemic has certainly upended lives and brought many changes. NTM continues to stand in solidarity with educators nationwide whose role is crucial in helping realize a better normal and, most especially, a better future for Filipinos.

DepEd Region I will take the lead in the culminating celebration of NTM on October 10, 2020, making way for the opening of classes on October 5, 2020. They will adopt the theme “Gurong Pilipino para sa Batang Pilipino.” The event will be streamed live on Deped Philippines’ official Facebook page.

“Serving the people, securing the land.” Such is the byword of the uniformed men and women who are in the frontlines safeguarding the nation from all forms of threats.

It is the same rallying cry that continues to inspire Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. as he takes on, perhaps, one of the biggest responsibilities in his storied career. He was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Chief Implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) in charge of overseeing the country’s National Action Plan (NAP) against the COVID-19 pandemic.

This role also entails enforcing the policies issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. This puts Sec. Galvez at the helm of the government’s operational arm in confronting and mitigating the impacts of the long-drawn health crisis.

Sec. Carlito Galvez heads the National Task Force in implementing the country’s action plan to combat the COVID-19.

A retired Chief of Staff, he is no stranger to daunting tasks that come with leadership roles. Galvez was the Commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) where he led the liberation of Marawi City from the hands of the ISIS-inspired Maute group. He was also the Chairman of the Government of the Philippines Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH-CCCH), a mechanism under the GPH and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace process that ensures potential situations of conflict between the two parties are resolved immediately. In 2018, his name made headlines again upon being selected as the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

In a crisis where critical elements are at play, Sec. Galvez’s duty as the Chief Implementer involves prioritizing the welfare of millions of Filipinos, particularly in protecting their health and safety. This job, he admits, is a challenging one, as there are times when he feels the weight of the job on his shoulders given its scope and magnitude.

Despite these, what prevails is his drive to serve his countrymen. Sec. Galvez recalled how he did not have second thoughts when the President offered him the post of Presidential Peace Adviser and, later, as Chief Implementer.

Sec. Galvez addresses the public and the media

“I knew that the position would give me another opportunity to serve our fellow Filipinos after my stint with the military. This was the same feeling I had when the President appointed me to be the NAP’s Chief Implementer. I knew that the job would be a very challenging one, but I wholeheartedly accepted it,” he shared.

Game Plan Towards a Better Normal for Filipinos

Filipinos from all walks of life have grappled with the impact of the pandemic over the past months. The NTF thus set in motion a multi-pronged plan to address issues across all fronts.

According to Sec. Galvez, one of the key steps undertaken by the task force is to ensure the NAP’s effective implementation at the national level, and cascading it to the local level. This involves engaging the public and obtaining their full support.

The NAP is anchored on the End-to-End “T3” Strategy which means trace, test, and treat. It is divided into various lines of effort, namely prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and reintegration, which will enable the nation to adapt to the new normal.

Now on its second phase, the NAP seeks to strike a balance between ensuring the health and safety of the people and reviving the nation’s economy.

Working closely with partners and relevant institutions to carry out necessary interventions to address the health crisis

While the road to recovery might seem elusive, Sec. Galvez stated that the strong collaboration among stakeholders brings the Philippines closer to its goal. Case in point, the task force’s partnership with the private sector and local government units paved the way for the donation of more than two million personal protective equipment to frontliners, and the establishment of testing laboratories, swabbing centers, and quarantine facilities across the regions.

“We are focused on further strengthening the government’s partnership with the private sector, whose invaluable contribution has enabled us to provide better protection for our front liners and establish more health quarantine facilities nationwide,” he said.

Monitoring the situation and putting in place measures to curb the spread of the virus

He emphasized how the government continues to ramp up the country’s testing and contact tracing capabilities, provide support to local businesses, and encourage greater public participation in the government’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Further, Sec. Galvez understands the plight of Filipinos as they face an unseen, formidable enemy. He recognizes that everyone’s lives have been altered one way or another in the transition to a new normal.

With the many challenges the nation is facing, he stressed that he, along with his colleagues in the National Task Force, are allies of the people. Most of all, he, too, is a Filipino who must face the day-to-day challenges brought about by the global health crisis.

“Aside from being a former soldier and peace worker, I am also a husband, father, and brother. This is also what motivates me to do my job to the best of my ability. I know that what I am doing will not only have an impact on the people that I serve, but also on my family. I always ask myself the question ‘Will this measure or policy protect my family?” Sec. Galvez said.

Amidst all the challenges, his message to all Filipinos is one of optimism and encouragement.

The fight is far from over but he believes that people must not lose hope—the Philippines can get back on its feet if everyone continues to unite and help each other.

This is the reason, Galvez said, why the government is now focused on addressing the situation of the nation’s most vulnerable sectors, especially locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who have been infected with the disease.

“The government is doing its best to help our LSIs and ROFs. They have gone through a lot. It is our responsibility not only to ensure their safe return to their home provinces, but also to help them recover from the trauma they have experienced,” he pointed out.

According to the chief implementer, aside from addressing the health conditions of these LSIs and ROFs, there is also a need to put equal importance on the state of their mental health which has also been affected by the health crisis.

“We must not only help them recover physically, but also assist them in coping with the psychological impact of the disease. The physical and mental well-being of patients should go hand in hand,” he stressed.

Galvez noted that LGUs will play a crucial role in this effort, as they will have to help create an environment where LSIs and ROFs will feel secure upon their return to their communities and not feel discriminated upon.

He said that it is through this integrated and holistic strategy that the government hopes to contain the spread of the disease, identify, isolate and treat patients as quickly as possible, and prevent the further loss of lives.

Sec. Galvez has this to say, “Our nation and the rest of the world are facing a crisis like we have never seen before. It has not only impacted our health, but also our social order, economy, peace and security. All aspects of our life as citizens have been upended, as we undergo the difficult process of coping with these changes. I have no doubt, however, that we shall overcome this pandemic, and emerge better, stronger and more resilient than before. We can do this by working together and looking out for each other. Tapang. Malasakit. Bayanihan. Together, we heal as one, we recover as one.”

The virtual signing agreement held last September 4, 2020 was led by Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepena (top center), Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines vice president for operation Justin Ongsue (top left), Boysen vice president for Marketing Ruben Cueto (top right) together with UST rector Rev. Fr. Richard Ang, O.P, UST dean of College of Architecture Arch’t Rodolfo Ventura (lower left), and NU president and chief executive officer Renato Carlos Ermita, Jr.

The Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines signed another partnership agreement with the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) during a virtual signing of agreement held last September 4, 2020. Through a PhP 6.8 million scholarship fund, 15 architecture students will benefit from a 4-year scholarship assistance. The ceremony was attended by MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepena, Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines vice president for operation Justin Ongsue, vice president for marketing Ruben Cueto, and representatives from academic partners.

Started in 2005, the ‘MBFI-Pacific Paint (Boysen) Scholarship Program’ awards scholarship assistance to incoming 2nd year Architecture students from the University of the Philippines-Diliman and University of Santo Tomas (UST). For the 2nd phase of the program, the National University (NU) was added as a new academic partner. Each of the scholars from the three-partner universities will receive a fixed amount of subsidy to pay for their tuition and other fees. UST rector Rev. Fr. Richard Ang, O.P. and NU president and chief executive officer Renato Carlos Ermita, Jr. were present during the virtual ceremonies.

In the last 15 years, MBFI-Boysen Scholarship Program has already produced a total of 103 graduates and has awarded a total of 113 scholarship grants to 2nd year college students from the UP Diliman and UST.

The virtual turnover ceremony was led by Metrobank and MBFI chairman Arthur Ty, Metrobank president and MBFI trustee Fabian Dee and MBFI president and GTFI executive director Aniceto Sobrepeña on September 4, 2020 which was attended by key officers and representatives from beneficiary organizations.

Empowerment through dynamic partnerships has been at the heart of Metrobank’s anniversary for the many decades. This 2020, this rings true as it celebrates 58 meaningful years of being the people’s ally in progress. A total of PhP 30 million worth of grants was turned over to social development partners during its annual giving-back tradition, “Anniversary Grants Turnover Ceremony,” on September 4. To adhere to protocols, the event was held virtually attended by key officers and representatives from beneficiary organizations. Serving as Guest of Honor was Department of Education (DepEd) secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones.

Department of Education secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones

During this unprecedented period, Metrobank shares in the aspiration of helping Filipinos, most especially the vulnerable and underserved, to get back on their feet. To sustain its commitment to help the national government in addressing the effects and impact of the health crisis to many lives, said donation is added to the previous PhP220 million donation of the company which funded and supported efforts to combat the pandemic.

“The theme of this year’s event is collaboration. In these unusual times, our actions may be physically limited but through strategic partnerships, we can still achieve our objectives by working together,” said Metrobank and MBFI chairman Arthur Ty. “We at Metrobank have always looked at our anniversaries as an opportunity to give back and help the vulnerable and marginalized. There is a lot of need in our country right now but we hope that these small steps lead us to look to the future with some optimism and hope. And we’re grateful to our development partners for helping make this vision a reality,” he added.

Coursed through its social arm, Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) and Ty family’s GT Foundation, Inc. (GTFI), this year’s batch of beneficiary organizations received financial aid to implement their programs on health, education, arts, livelihood, and nutrition.


One with the League to Promote Hand Hygiene

As a member of the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF), MBFI will support #LCFWinS: Lingap Eskwela sa Pandemya Program. Collaborating with fellow corporate foundations, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) facilities will be constructed in select public schools nationwide in compliance to the ‘Guidelines on the Required Health Standards in Basic Education Offices and Schools’ (DepEd Order No. 014 s. 2020) which covers the protection of health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, and personnel. To complement the facility, hygiene kits and supplies will also be provided.

MBFI’s donation will benefit almost 29 thousand students from 20 schools in Pasig, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, and Marikina, including La Union, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, Zamboanga City and Davao City.

Paddling Farther to Reach More Geographically-Isolated Schools

To reach out to more geographically-isolated schools, MBFI renewed its 7-year partnership with the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation. This time, not only to provide physical access to education for schoolchildren in the form or boats and school dormitories, MBFI will also provide in-kind donation of printers, copiers and risograph machines to aid teachers in the reproduction of the modules and learning materials. The donation shall benefit more than 20 thousand students from 39 schools in the provinces of Cebu, Romblon, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Pampanga, Zambales, Bulacan, Basilan, Siargao, Tarlac, Capiz, Zamboanga del Sur, and Sulu.

Photo from the Department of Education

Meanwhile, another donation of printers, copiers and risograph machines will go directly to select Department of Education public schools to benefit more than 23 thousand students from Manila, Navotas, Makati, Laguna, Sarangani, Leyte, Antique, Dipolog, Nueva Ecija, Iligan, Cavite, Iloilo, and Tarlac.

Art Community Gets Boost of Support

To further solidify support for the local art community, MBFI extended cash assistance to 200 visual artists whose main source of living was impacted by the crisis. Dubbed as MADE CARES (Metrobank Art & Design Excellence–Community Aid and Relief for Emergency Situations), past awardees of MADE Painting and Sculpture Recognition Programs, including eligible Filipino painters and sculptors have applied for the amelioration program.

Ministry to Curb Poverty

Another partnership renewed is that of the International Care Ministries (ICM). As a non-profit organization, ICM provides help, hope and change to impoverished families in Visayas and Mindanao. Through their integrated poverty solutions, 100 thousand ultra-poor Filipinos are assisted each year.

The donation will support their Transform and Prevail programs aimed at training and mentoring families living in ultra-poor communities on livelihood building skills. Transform is ICM’s core strategic program, designed to address the wide range of needs faced by families living in ultrapoverty. Transform starts by creating supportive environments for hope to grow, then invests in building capacity for sustainable progress out of poverty. Prevail, on the other hand, is a support network for savings groups that promotes sustainability towards greater financial inclusion. The assistance will cater to 222 households (1,110 individuals) from six (6) communities in the province Cebu.

‘Kindness Kitchen’ Goes South

From its previous donation to support the ‘Kindness Kitchen’ program of Ronald McDonald’s House Charities of the Philippines (RMHC) that served hot meals to 40 thousand individuals from NCR last April 2020, MBFI will fund additional feeding activities. This time, families and frontliners from the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu Lapu, and Davao province will be reached out, other than NCR.

GT Foundation Steps Up Tech-Voc Program

GTFI, the family foundation of the late Dr. George Ty Siao Kian, believes that quality education and equitable healthcare are basic needs that should be made accessible to the underprivileged. Since 2009, philanthropic initiatives of the family are realized through GTFI’s strategic development programs in the areas of health, education, and technology and innovation.

Through its Scholarships for Technical-Vocational Education Program (STEP), out-of-school youth and underprivileged students can gain access to quality education that enable them to gain immediate employment. Scholars of some of the best technical-vocational education and training schools in the country with industry tie-ups for guaranteed employment are supported. The virtual event served as an opportunity to renew the partnership with Dualtech Training Center, Don Bosco Technical Institute, and Punlaan School. Over a period of three (3) years, 150 Dualtech scholars will be supported to meet the manpower demands of specific industries. On the other hand, the 3-year partnership with the Don Bosco Technical Institute will support the technical skills education of 135 scholars from their 3 centers. Lastly, 24 scholars of Punlaan School will have the opportunity to gain proper skills training on hospitality and culinary arts through a 4-year agreement.

Extending Healthcare Privileges to Indigents

Manila Doctors Hospital (MDH) serves as the healthcare affiliate of MBFI which offers social services to indigent patients such as hospitalization and consultation subsidies, medical missions, and other health-related interventions in select communities. Through the annual financial support of GTFI, the corporate social responsibility programs of MDH such as quality non-discriminatory inpatient and outpatient services and surgical operations will reach out to more indigent Filipinos in need of medical assistance.

Laptops and Tablets for Blended Learning

To complement the national government’s groundwork for a blended learning approach for the school year, GTFI launched Project PERFORM (Provision of Equipment to Reinforce Facility of Online and Remote Modality of Learning). The program is targeting to give laptops and tablets to more than 600 qualified students from public and techvoc schools, as well as GTFI and MBFI scholars.

“Sharing has been at the core of Metrobank’s anniversary for the last 58 years. Grants turned over to our partners are intended to benefit those whom they are helping. Our donations are expressions of gratefulness ingrained in our institutional culture,” expressed MBFI president and GTFI executive director Aniceto Sobrepeña. “As we pursue these ideals, we do so honoring the memory of our founder Dr. George Ty Siao Kian. He envisioned a bequest that would go well beyond his lifetime, enabling and ennobling men to build a world where sound health, quality education, and productive lives are everyone’s portion,” he concluded.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have continued to be at the service of all Filipinos and performed their duty nonstop with little to no respite. This is what the new normal looks like for Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, who remains committed to fulfill her obligations to the country and her institution during this time of public health crisis.

In 2019, Dr. Eva was named one of the 10 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos. She dons many hats as an educator, physician, and researcher. With this, work has never halted and series of engagements have constantly required her attention, especially now that she is actively involved in efforts to aid the government in the COVID-19 response.

She revealed what she considers her anchor during this period. “I am still overwhelmed with grief upon losing friends and colleagues in the medical profession due to COVID-19. What keeps me going is knowing that despite our present circumstances, God is sovereign and in control,” said Dr. Eva.

As the Executive Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, the greatest obstacle Dr. Eva currently faces is accepting that she cannot always be physically where the action is. This is due to her lung condition which puts her in the high-risk category for COVID-19.

With the aid of technology, however, she can perform all her crucial work. She oversees the NIH COVID-19 Testing Laboratory operations, trains Genetics fellows using the telegenetics platform, and coordinates UP’s training assistance to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). She also meets with donors and constituents online, serves as a keynote speaker in webinars, and even presents in the Senate public hearing on education and health.

Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz is a Professor 10 of the College of Medicine and Executive Director of the National Institutes of Health both in University of the Philippines Manila. She also serves as Director for the Health Program of the Philippine Genome Center. She was named one of the 2019 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos.

It took a village to build a COVID-19 Testing Lab

The UP Manila National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) name has been doing rounds in the media recently, and rightly so. The institution is one of the first responders to the country’s call for an expanded COVID-19 testing capacity.

All hands were on deck as, within a span of two laborious weeks, Dr. Eva and her fellow doctors set up the stringent measures required for a testing laboratory. They immediately started testing for COVID-19 upon passing the necessary assessments.

Indeed, the NIH offered a silver lining just when the country needed it most. Dr. Eva has this to say about the work that her institution has achieved, “The NIH responded quickly and appropriately when the country needed testing labs at the start of the pandemic. It also had a mindset to be resourceful and always find a way to serve the testing needs of patients in the hospitals and quarantine centers.”

Frontliners working hard at the UP National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Testing Laboratory

Putting up the laboratory, however, was only half the battle. During its first weeks of operation, the laboratory was efficiently run by around 30 volunteer staff from the NIH Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) who, despite their willingness to focus on the undertaking, all had to return to their respective projects after a certain period. This need for manpower prompted NIH to hire new staff who now comprise the new COVID-19 Testing Team through the Human Resource for Health Program of DOH.

The Laboratory frontliner volunteers who helped make sure that the UP NIH COVID-19 Testing Laboratory is ready to serve the people’s testing needs

Further, the laboratory does not have any budget of its own to perform the COVID-19 testing. Despite this, the team has conducted over 20,000 tests to date and not charged a single centavo. This was possible through the outpouring of support from the DOH, RITM, Philippine General Hospital, and several private donors that came in the form of swabs, kits, and other supplies crucial to testing. They were able to serve the PGH patients as well as 29 other hospitals and community quarantine centers within their area.

Receiving donations which help support the operations of the testing laboratory

Equipping a league of front liners

The abilities to test, trace, and treat are vital in curbing the spread of the pandemic. Aside from expanding the capability of existing laboratories and building new ones across the regions, proper training is required to equip all personnel who will handle the COVID-19 testing.

This is where the NIH as well as other UP institutes and centers also came in. Dr. Eva, together with volunteer faculty and research assistants from the NIH National Training Center for Biosafety and Biosecurity (NTCBB), UP Diliman NIMBB and UP Philippine Genome Center (PGC), created online modules for the DOH and RITM training assistance program. The online modules cover two important areas: biosafety and molecular biology techniques.


The Biosafety Education and Awareness Training (BEAT COVID-19) is designed to provide core concepts of basic biosafety and biosecurity practices including risk assessment, bio-containment facilities, as well as basics of personal protective equipment (PPEs), disinfection, sterilization and decontamination, and waste management of biological material.

The DOH designated the NIH NTCBB to be the training provider. To date, the training has graduated more than 2,688 trainees nationwide, many of whom are already employed as laboratorians in different accredited laboratories.

The UP COLlab, on the other hand, is the online learning lab for RT-PCR testing. This online course is composed of lectures designed to provide the conceptual framework as well as overview of the testing workflow and protocols needed to perform the RT-PCR based diagnostic test for COVID-19. This is then followed by hands-on training.

It has been provided by the University for free, along with food and training materials. The DOH has recognized these efforts and is now funding the implementation.

Combating this pandemic has truly necessitated concerted action. Dr. Eva believes that fortitude will also help Filipinos confront this health crisis. “We all need to be resilient—able to cope with adversity and use challenges to forge strength and prosperity. Although we are still in the middle of abnormal times, we should still be moving forward to find best ways to provide better health care for the next generation,” she said.

Dr. Eva’s story, as well the stories of other individuals and institutions dedicating their energy to combat the pandemic, tells the power of solidarity and shared purpose. The fight may be far from over but hope persists—it lies in every Filipino driven to extend a helping hand.

The Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) allocates PhP 1 million to aid the local art community which suffered loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through its program called Metrobank Art & Design Excellence-Community Aid and Relief for Emergency Situations or MADE CARES, MBFI aims to support 200 visual artists with a cash assistance worth PhP 5,000.00 each. MADE CARES is part of MBFI’s initiatives in reaching out to its stakeholders during this current health crisis.


Eligible Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries who are qualified for the cash assistance include past awardees of the annual MADE Painting and Sculpture recognition programs, as well as non-awardees who are Filipino painters and sculptors aged 18 years old and above. MBFI will also prioritize practicing visual artists whose income-generating art projects or livelihood were affected by the pandemic.

Painters and sculptors who receive regular salary from a public or private institution; are recipients of pension and other cash assistance from art and cultural institutions; or are currently involved in any income-generating projects are not eligible for the grant.

Call for Grant Application

A total amount of PhP 115,000.00 was given last August 6, 2020 to the first batch of beneficiaries, composed of 23 members of the MADE-Network of Winners, the alumni organization of past MADE awardees.

The grant application for the remaining 177 slots is now open for both awardees and non-awardees of MADE. To register, applicants must fill-out the application form which can be accessed through bit.ly/MADECARES_application. The deadline for submission of application is on August 23, 2020.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings, through MBFI, donated PhP220 million to fund and support efforts to combat the health crisis and help those in need. The amount was allocated for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to benefit healthcare and security frontliners; support for the production of RT-PCR testing kits through the Manila HealthTek; “Project Ugnayan” led by the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation; distribution of meals and food packs to underprivileged families; construction and equipping of molecular laboratories for the testing of cases in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Red Cross, and Ayala Group; and Go Negosyo’s Project ARK (Antibody Rapid test Kits) of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship Foundation. Just recently, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation donated 30 VIOS units for the mobility of healthcare frontliners of DOH and local government hospitals.

For further details, interested participants may contact Ms. Badet Macaraig through bsm.mbfi@gmail.com; or visit MADE Facebook page @MADECompetition.

GT Foundation, Inc. (GTFI) donated PhP1 million to Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK) for their project Feed Back—a vegetable farming program during this time of pandemic aimed at stemming hunger, keeping families healthy and together, and making communities achieve food security and resiliency. The donation will particularly benefit 416 families from the farming and fishing communities located in barangay Bogtong, Busuanga, Palawan; barangay Borac, Coron, Palawan; and barangay Traciano, Dumarao, Capiz. A virtual ceremonial signing of the Pledge of Donation was held on July 24 led by GTFI executive director and Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña, ARK CEO Ayesha Vera-Yu; ARK trustee Philip Soliven; and GTFI assistant executive director Nicanor Torres, Jr.

“I am very thankful that GT Foundation partnered with us on this. Thank you for wanting to make sure that our kapwa (co) farmers, kapwa fisher folks, kapwa Filipinos are not going hungry and that they are securing their health particularly at this time of the pandemic,” said Vera-Yu.

In a span of 12 weeks, Feed Back will distribute vegetable baskets to participating farmers and fisher folks enabling them of three meals for a family of four. To ensure sustainability, the program’s next phase aims to empower the communities to grow their own produce for their household consumption at the same time create opportunities for them to earn a living by selling their excess produce to neighboring villages and towns. This will secure a family’s food, good health and enable them to participate in a secondary market.

“We have been praying that we get involved in agriculture and school-nutrition. The fact that we needed to do something to help our rural farmers and fisher folks to have something to eat during lockdown is a very important subject. Allow us to be able to do something in the areas that we would have wanted to move into,” said Sobrepeña.

The donation is part of over a PhP220 million contribution by Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings Group to fund and support efforts to combat the pandemic and help those in need. The amount was allocated for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to benefit healthcare and security frontliners; “Project Ugnayan” led by the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation; distribution of meals and food packs to underprivileged families; construction and equipping of molecular laboratories for the testing of cases in partnership with the Department of Health, Philippine Red Cross, and Ayala Group; and Go Negosyo’s Project ARK (Antibody Rapid test Kits) of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship Foundation. Just recently, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation donated 30 units of Toyota Vios to DOH for the mobility of healthcare frontliners and local government hospitals.

Last July 14, 2020, GT Foundation, Inc. (GTFI) and Don Bosco Technical Institute (DBTI) successfully held a virtual MOA signing for a three-year scholarship program with worth more than PhP7.4 million that will sponsor the education of 135 students from three Don Bosco Centers located in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija; Naga City, Camarines Sur; and Canlubang, Laguna. Representing GTFI were executive director Aniceto Sobrepeña (bottom left), deputy executive director Nicanor L. Torres, Jr, and assistant executive director Irene D. Labitad, while TVET technical director Fr. Jose Dindo S. Vitug SDB, signed for DBTI. Also present were head of secretariat Philip Jay M. Pronstroller, senior program officer Lilac C. Lazaro, and program officer Bryan J. Sudaria for GTFI; deputy director Marc L. Celis and external relations officer Carlo Sigua for DBTI.

Under its Scholarships for Technical-vocational Education Program (STEP), GTFI aims to equip out-of-school youth and other marginalized students with skills that will help them gain immediate employment. Since 2016, the foundation has been supporting a total of 100 scholars of some of the best technical-vocational education and training schools in the country with industry tie-ups for guaranteed employment. These schools are the Toyota Motor Philippines School of Technology, DBTI, and DualTech Training Center Foundation.

The Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) and the GT Foundation, Inc. (GTFI), together with Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, commended this year’s batch of scholars during a series of virtual Graduates’ Conversations on June 30, July 2 and 7, 2020.

A total of 14 scholars finished their undergraduate degrees from Manila Tytana Colleges (MTC), University of the Philippines Diliman (UP), and University of Santo Tomas (UST). They are the recipients of the GTFI-Manila Tytana Colleges Youth for Excellence and Service (YES) and MBFI-Pacific Paint (Boysen) scholarship programs. Out of the 14 scholars, eight (8) graduated cum laude.

The virtual encounter, which honored the accomplishments of the scholars, was led by MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepena. “There are so many challenging events happening around us now and I’m glad that our scholars did not give up and continued to become strong individuals. We are all proud of your accomplishments and we appreciate everyone for attending this online activity,” said Sobrepena in his welcome remarks.

The management congratulated the scholars and provided hope and encouragement as their in-person graduations have been canceled or postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The scholars also shared their stories and life journeys and recalled the people who helped them along the way. They outlined their plans on vision boards to guide their next steps in life.

Catherine Ryanne Naraga, a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate, from Manila Tytana Colleges, considers her GT YES scholarship as one of the greatest blessings that enabled her to pursue Accountancy. Her family had a rough time supporting her college education because of her father’s illness that prevented him from coming back to work as a seaman. Her mother, who works in their barangay has not enough income to support their daily expenses. In this time of pandemic, they only relied on her father’s monthly pension and cash allowance from the local government unit. Now that she has finished college, her main plan is to focus on reviewing for the CPA licensure exam and look for a stable job.

Marian Joyce Dacquel, a Bachelor of Science in Architecture graduate, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines Diliman, shared that ever since 3rd-year high school she already envisioned herself becoming a successful architect. These all came true when she was granted the MBFI-Boysen scholarship program. Marian made sure to keep track of her academic performance and continued to be a consistent ‘college and university scholar’ throughout her five years taking Architecture. Marian recently passed the 2020 LAE and got qualified to UP Law. Aside from being an architect, she believes that practicing law is one of the best ways to give service to the country.

Karen Elyssa Eloriaga, a Bachelor of Science in Architecture graduate, cum laude, from the University of Santo Tomas, said that the scholarship served more than just financial support for her college education; it motivated her to excel in academics and reminded her that God works miracles in her life. Despite the day to day adversities, she has experienced in the university and during this current pandemic, she remains optimistic and strong in pursuing her dreams of becoming an architect. In the future, she hopes to join an architecture firm where she can gain substantial experience and earn a stable income. After this, Karen wishes to give back to the community by building social housing and providing scholarships for the poor.

Also present in the three-day graduate’s conversations were MTC president and former University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor, Dr. Sergio Cao, MBFI executive director, Nicanor Torres, Jr., MBFI assistant executive director Irene Labitad, Boysen vice president Engr. Ruben Cueto, Boysen marketing manager Vergel Dyoco, Boysen office manager Natalie Lee.

Reinforcing the vision of the Metrobank Group’s late Chairman Dr. George Ty Siao Kian to nurture the country’s future leaders, the online activity allowed the scholars to meet their benefactors and interact with their fellow scholars. Since 1995, the Metrobank Scholarship Program has been awarding financial grants to support deserving students through college. To date, the program has produced over 1,000 graduates in collaboration with its partner institutions and schools.

For more information on MBFI’s scholarship programs, please visit www.mbfoundation.org.ph.

Metrobank Foundation, Inc.

10th floor, Annex Building
Metrobank Plaza, Sen Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City 1200

(02) 8857-9746 / (02) 8898-8855
(02) 8818-5656 / (02) 8750-0837

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