Smart employees climb for a cause

City folks and office workers are being encouraged to ditch the elevator and take the stairs for healthier living. But a group of employees of wireless leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) decided to level up the activity by climbing stairs to raise funds for a learning advocacy program.

Dozens of Smart employees recently scouted for financial pledges and took on the 33 storeys of the company’s Makati headquarters for The Storytelling Project (TSP), which aims to instill the love for reading among Filipino children in remote communities. Sponsors pledged to donate a particular amount for every 11 floors conquered by the participants, who then went on to finish as many loops as they could.

At the end of the Stair Climb Challenge organized by the Smart Mountaineering Club (SMC), participants and sponsors were able to contribute enough money to help TSP become a formally registered nongovernment organization and spread the love for learning to more Pinoy kids.

TSP founders and former Smart employees Rey Bufi and Grace Soriano usually immerse themselves in a remote community and tell stories to kids for 21 days, the time it supposedly takes for a person to form a habit. After this, they start collecting books to build a small community library, and organize a reading club composed of older kids who can act as mentors to the younger ones.

Since its inception in 2010, TSP has gone to six communities including Pactil in Mt. Province and Sison in Pangasinan, covering a total of 350 Filipino children.

“We are looking forward to expanding our reach, as the funds raised by the SMC will surely help us in our commitment to continue our mission of educating Filipino children. We thank Smart, the SMC, and all the participants and sponsors for the support,” Bufi said.

Smart turns over the funds raised in the Stair Climb Challenge to The Storytelling Project. Photo shows [from left to right] Smart human resources officer Froi Endaya, Smart human resources supervisor Kate Corona, Smart human resource management head Charee Lanza, TSP founder Rey Bufi, Smart Mountaineering Club president Allan Ostrea, and SMC assistant finance head Katherine Sagun

 “We at the Smart Mountaineering Club are happy to help our alumnus Rey Bufi because we sincerely believe in TSP’s cause,” said SMC president Allan Michael Ostrea. “We are glad that we were able to use our regular stair climbing activity not just to promote fitness and reduce our carbon footprint, but also to help kids discover a love for learning through TSP.”

Since 2013, the SMC has been holding stair climbing activities for employees every Thursday evening at the Smart headquarters.

“Stair climbing is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that has long been employed by SMC members to train physically for mountain climbs and other outdoor activities. In promotion of Smart's Live More campaign, SMC brought this activity to a bigger audience by encouraging employees to climb the stairs as a means to exercise every Thursday after work,” Ostrea said.

“We are happy that dozens of employees took time off their busy schedules not just to be fit but to help TSP’s noble cause,” he added.


I joined the Stair Climb Challenge because I was looking for alternative ways to exercise. The fact that it was a fund-raising activity made it more meaningful. I felt so fulfilled when I was able to climb up to the 33rd floor, I felt like I made it to the top of a mountain,” said Smart test analyst supervisor Glaiza Mae Layacan.  (Source: Smart)

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