As the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues its onslaught in the country which adversely affecting its economy and the people’s livelihood, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has also continued its fight to help those who are in need.
Recently, the multinational conglomerate announced that it is already hiring former residents of Barangay Taliptip in Bulacan — site of its upcoming P740-billion Manila International Airport project — as heavy equipment operators for its ongoing P1-billion Tullahan river dredging project and eventually for the Bulacan river systems and Pasig cleanup initiatives.
This comes after the initial batch of former Taliptip residents who underwent SMC-funded training with theTechnical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) on Heavy Equipment Operation, graduated from their courses.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said that the deployment of the initial batch of Taliptip graduates to these river cleanup projects will allow them to earn income, and get additional training in preparation for the airport project.
“For the 12 that graduated the heavy equipment operations course, this will be their practical, on-the-job training. They can put the things they learned into actual practice. This will allow them to further hone their skills and prepare them for the airport construction. More significantly, this means they will now start earning from the skills they just acquired while making a difference,” Ang said.
The graduates are part of a larger group of residents that enrolled in, and graduated from various SMC-funded courses designed by TESDA to equip former residents of Taliptip with skills to gain employment or put up their own small businesses.
“We are also looking to match other residents who graduated from our other TESDA courses, with other job and livelihood opportunities within the company,” Ang added.
The skills and job-training program is on top of financial assistance given by SMC for the relocation and construction of new, concrete houses of former Taliptip residents.
Ang reiterated that the company’s commitment to helping former residents of Taliptip, many of whom used to live on houses on stilts and were at risk during typhoons, goes well beyond providing them decent homes.
“This training and jobs program is really aimed at giving those from Taliptip who want to improve their lives, are hard-working and dream of a better future, the opportunity to do so. We know they have had a hard life, so we are helping them help themselves by providing them all the support they need,” Ang said.
The 12 heavy equipment graduates are part of the first 58 graduates of the skills and livelihood training courses that also include electrical installation and maintenance, shielded metal arc welding, cookery and dressmaking.
Meantime, 35 graduates of airport construction-related courses, including heavy equipment/hydraulic excavator operations, electrical installation and maintenance, and shielded metal arc welding, will be referred to SMC Aerocity, which will handle the airport development.
The 11 graduates of dressmaking courses, for their part, are busy filling orders for ecobags, masks, and uniforms of several SMC companies for the Christmas season and more orders are expected to come in with referrals to SMC subsidiaries in Bulacan and the rest of Central Luzon.
“They were initially overwhelmed with the volume of orders and were not expecting this much support, but we will be helping them in every step of the process. We are confident that as they continue working, they will even be more adept in their trade,” Ang said.
SMC is in the initial stage of its P1 billion Tullahan-Tinajeros river dredging project with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the 27-kilometer river system that spans from the Manila Bay in Navotas City to the La Mesa Dam in Quezon City.
SMC is currently dredging the Tullahan river section from Barangay Tanong in Malabon City, to the mouth of the river leading to Manila Bay in Navotas City.
Also in the pipeline is the river channel improvement of tributaries belonging to the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System in Bulacan, which was recently hit by heavy flooding caused by the recent typhoons.
Ang said SMC’s plan is to dredge, widen, and deepen the Alipit or Taliptip River, Sta. Maria River, and the Meycauayan River as part of its flood mitigation strategy for the Manila International Airport that will also benefit the whole of Bulacan.
Meanwhile, its Pasig River dredging project is part of its P95.4 bilion proposal to build the Pasig River Expressway, to be built on the banks of the historic but long polluted river.
Ang said that the SMC-funded TESDA program was initially opened to former residents of Barangay Taliptip but is now offered to more Bulacan residents. The TESDA scholarships are usually only for high-school graduates, but SMC’s partnership with TESDA will open the program to non-high school graduates who are residents of Bulacan.
SMC and TESDA are currently looking at expanding course offerings based on the labor needs of the project to include the construction of four parallel runways, a world-class terminal, and a major infrastructure network.