GMA Kapuso Foundation, Cebu Pacific bring education to Filipino children

Broadcast journalist Mel Tiangco has covered various stories throughout her illustrious career as a radio announcer, news anchor and television host, but nothing makes her heart soar more than leading the Kapuso Foundation and its worthwhile endeavors. 

Kapuso Foundation Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Mel Tiangcofinds a supportive partner in Cebu Pacific, led by Cebu Pacific Vice President for Fuel and Cargo Operations Joseph Macagga and Vice President for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.

 Among the projects that give her the most joy is Unang Hakbang sa Kinabukasan (UHSK), a project that provides backpacks and complete sets of school supplies to Grade 1 pupils in remote areas across the Philippines. The broadcaster started UHSK in 1997, after coming across an article saying that a lot of students drop out of school because they lacked the necessary materials. “Kids would feel embarrassed or less motivated to learn because they didn’t even have paper and pencils,” she shared. “It was a big realization because these are things that some of us tend to take for granted, but to some children thismeans a lot.” 

First graders in Bukidnon are all set for school with new school supplies from the UnangHakbangsaKinabukasan project
 
 On its first year, UHSK prepared school bags for more than 600 students in Metro Manila. Since then, it has grown to reach tens of thousands of schoolchildren nationwide. Apart from school supplies, the program also builds schools and trains teachers, helping boost enrolment and attendance among pupils from the poorest communities in far-flung provinces.

Crossing borders
While the program has grown so much since it first started, Tiangco said that it is still not enough. “For this school year, we have given away about 75,000 school bags, but it’s just a small contribution,” she said. “The need only grows year after year and there’s still so much that all of us can do.”

Elementary students in Cotabato rejoice upon receiving their school bags for the new school year.

The broadcaster shared that she is thankful for the support that the Foundation gets from volunteers and organizations that support their cause and share the same advocacy. Among their biggest supporters is Cebu Pacific, which has been a partner of the GMA Kapuso Foundation for five consecutive years.For UHSK, the airline transports school supplies to various sites nationwide and provides air transport so the Kapuso team can reach far-flung areas in the Philippines.

“The communities living in the most distant islands and the highest mountains are often overlooked because it’s so hard to reach them,” Tiangco said. “This is why I consider Cebu Pacific’s support invaluable. Their assistance and wide network have allowed us to reach more people in need, even those in the most rural and remote areas.” 

GMA Kapuso Foundation’s UnangHakbangsaKinabukasan project reaches out to students in far-flung areas in the Philippines, including Sulu
 
 Apart from UHSK, the low-cost carrier also supports the Kapuso Foundation’s other projects, including Give-A-Gift during Christmas, medical missions, and relief operations in times of natural calamities.

Despite the challenges of her various endeavors, Tiangco and her team soldier on, undaunted by whatever comes their way. “We have weathered many storms, literally and figuratively. There were instances when we would ask ourselves, ‘Why arewe doing this?’” she shared. “Then you see the grateful smiles of the people we have helped and you realize that everything was well worth it.”

“I would always tell my team, the hardest tasks to accomplish and the most demanding of missions, they are the ones that will stay with you even after many, many years. They are the ones that will make you feel most fulfilled,” she added.

The broadcaster said that she and her team are not slowing down as they continue to encourage underprivileged children to embrace education. “As we carry out the program annually, we find ways to refine and improve so that we could fulfill our advocacy even better,” she shared. “We do not stop and we will continue to do our best to continue to make a difference in the lives of more Filipinos.”

Like Cebu Pacific, individuals and organizations can also take part in reaching out to underprivileged Filipinos through GMA Kapuso Foundation. For more information, contact the foundation at (02) 982-77-77 loc. 9901, 9904, or 9905, email at gmaf@gmanetwork.com or visit their website at www.kapusofoundation.com.

Cebu Pacific continues to aid partner institutions and organizations in extending help and advocating education to Filipinos all over the country. For more information on the airline’s projects for the environment and education, visit www.cebupacificair.com

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