Victor Silva | July 16, 2018
Students of Bato Elementary School in Toledo City, Cebu didn’t know what was going to happen on the morning of June 27, but they were certain it was something special. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been called to gather inside one classroom, with some of them even spilling over into the corridor outside.
By the time their visitors arrived, most of them had already become restless in their chairs, some had begun roaming around, while only a few others remained still, clasping their hands together on their laps and occasionally chatting with their seatmates.
At first glance, one would surmise that these kids were ordinary primary school students, going about their business the way any child their age should. But behind the smile, the laughter, and their seemingly typical appearance is a concern that is prevalent across the Philippines.
These pupils, about 150 of them, are considered either malnourished or underfed, resulting to stunted growth and even poor performance in school.
In 2017, a health and wellness advocacy group estimated that more than 7 million Filipino children across the country suffer from either malnutrition or hunger, driven by inadequate access to nutritious food as well as poor health and sanitation services available for kids, among others.
As a way to fulfill the Aboitiz Group promise of advancing business and communities, AboitizPower, whose 340-megawatt thermal power plant operated by Therma Visayas Inc. (TVI) is in Barangay Bato, Toledo City, has stepped in to help solve this glaring problem.
“Therma Visayas is well aware of this situation and in our own simple way, we would like to address this one,” said Engineer John Arman Serenuela, TVI vice president and plant manager, during the launch of their nutrition enhancement program for Bato Elementary School last June 27.
In the next four months, TVI will work hand in hand with the Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (AFI) and Pilmico to provide high energy biscuits to these schoolchildren, with the main objective of being able to give nourishment not only to the body, but also to the mind.
At the same time, the students and their parents will also go through a series of health and wellness trainings to be conducted by TVI volunteers.
“The main goal is to really enhance learning and to improve the knowledge-building capacity of these kids,” Serenuela added.
Samson Alqueza, Bato Elementary School officer-in-charge, said they are grateful to the Aboitiz Group for its unwavering support. He said the school’s young learners will surely benefit from the project.
Maribeth Marasigan, AFI first vice president and chief operating officer, explained that the high energy packed 450 kilocalories and are equivalent to one full meal.
As she reminded the kids on the importance of eating healthy, she said that is the foundation’s hope to see these children grow up to be strong, smart, and happy.
“Kayo ang pag-asa ng ating bayan, lalo na ng inyong mga pamilya. Kasabay ng pagkain ng mabuti ay ang pag-aaral ng mabuti (You are the hope of our nation and of your families. Eating well will help you do well in school),” she said.