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Smart Donates Over P3 Million for Sendong Recovery Efforts

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LEADING wireless services provider Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) is donating various urgently needed goods and materials worth P3.285 million to efforts to help survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong to rebuild their lives.

(Sun Star Baguio, 1/5/2012) 

LEADING wireless services provider Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) is donating various urgently needed goods and materials worth P3.285 million to efforts to help survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong to rebuild their lives.

LEADING wireless services provider Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) is donating various urgently needed goods and materials worth P3.285 million to efforts to help survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong to rebuild their lives.

During the Christmas break, its prepaid brand Talk ‘N Text (TNT) turned over P1 million worth of goods that included more than 2,600 water containers, 10,000 slippers, and hundreds of T-shirts and tents for distribution among the hard-hit areas in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City.

The balance will be coursed through the PLDT-Smart Foundation (P1.285 million) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (P1 million) for the creation of livelihood opportunities for Sendong survivors.

Smart was among the first to respond after Sendong struck northern Mindanao and logged in the biggest number of casualties to date at over 1,200 and caused widespread damage to homes and property.

Aside from immediately setting up Libreng Tawag stations in hard-hit communities in the cities of Cagayan De Oro, Iligan and Dumaguete, Smart joined PLDT and TV 5 in packing and distributing relief packs that included blankets, sleeping mats and bottles of safe drinking water in evacuation centers.

Marketing officials also responded to requests for billboard tarpaulin materials that the affected residents could use as makeshift tents by removing the nearest billboards in Mindanao as well as sourcing additional tarpaulin material stocked in warehouses.

Through the PBSP, of which PLDT and Smart are member-companies, Smart brand ambassador and Black Eyed Peas’ apl.de.ap brought Christmas cheer to Sendong survivors staying at the West City Central School in Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City via an impromptu mini-concert.

When widespread rains caused flooding in Valencia City, Bukidnon, Smart also provided free calls and blankets to residents displaced by the overflowing of the Pulangi River and who were staying at the city gym.

One of the positive things that emerged from this past year’s crop of storms and floods is how companies within the PLDT Group have found ways to work better together in order to prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies.

Communication support

The Group’s first task is to keep providing communications services to the public despite disruptions caused by storms and other disasters.

In the past year, PLDT’s fixed and mobile networks did not suffer any major disruption arising from storm or other disturbances. The Japan earthquake disrupted some international cable links to the United States, but this was hardly felt because there were adequate alternate routes.

“Smart remained up and running, even when other networks went down during typhoons. We maintained a signal when it was needed most,” said Smart Chief Wireless Advisor Orlando Vea.

Libreng Tawag

Aside from providing communications support that included voice, SMS and Internet access for relief agencies, Smart provided Libreng Tawag services directly to those displaced by floods and landslides resulting from continuous heavy rains, as well as from typhoons like Bebeng in May, Falcon in June, Juaning and Kabayan in July, Pedring and Quiel in September, and Sendong in December.

Smart also provided free calls to families of overseas workers during crises abroad. At the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), PLDT and Smart also set up Libreng Tawag stations at the DFA main lobby to enable family members in the country to make free calls to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Libya in light of the worsening political situation and escalating violence in the North African country.

In partnership with TV5, Smart also enabled relatives to make free calls to family members affected by the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

Relief efforts

Synergies within the PLDT Group, however, became more evident in relief efforts spearheaded by the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF). The Group relied on the member companies’ network of employees, distributors and partners in the affected areas to man Libreng Tawag centers, transport goods, coordinate distribution with local government units, distribute relief packs and source its contents like canned goods, bottled mineral, mats and blankets among others. In certain instances, medical check-ups were also conducted at evacuation centers.

Donation Facilities

In aid of efforts to raise funds for those affected by typhoons, the Group has made available several channels through which the public may send their donations.

The PSF accepts donations through its Banco de Oro Account 00-5310-01388-2 (Makati Avenue-Ayala Branch). Donations collected via the Baha Fund (Smart Money account 5577 5130 6822 1104) through fund transfers or deposits at BDO, Hapinoy and Cebuana Lhuillier branches nationwide are forwarded to the TV5 Foundation to help augment and speed up its relief operations in hard-hit places in Metro Manila and the provinces.

Subscribers can continue sending load donations of P10, P25, P50, P100, P300, P500 and P1,000 to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) by texting RED to 4143 via Smart. Last October, more than P600,000 generated via the SMS facility was turned over to the PRC to augment its efforts in helping those affected by Typhoons Pedring and Quiel.

Co-location of Pagasa devices in Smart cell sites

Under the auspices of the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF), members of the PLDT Group are actively involved in a program aimed at helping upgrade the country’s flood forecasting system.

This year, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) started to co-locate more than 70 of its automatic rain gauges in Smart cell sites in different parts of the country.

Smart, along with other service providers, agreed to the co-location agreement in 2010 to ensure the security of the devices as well as the transmission of the rainfall data from the Pagasa-specified locations to the weather bureau’s head office.

So far installation has been done at Smart’s cell site in Montalban, Rizal in 2010, with work being done on those at Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Zambales, Cavite, Batangas, Quezon, Mindoro, Sorsogon, Bohol, Camarines Norte, Northern Samar, Marinduque, Negros Occidental, Leyte, Surigao Del Sur, Surigao Del Norte, Agusan Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Sarangani and Biliran this year.

Aside from providing communications support that included voice, SMS and Internet access for relief agencies, Smart provided Libreng Tawag services directly to those displaced by floods and landslides resulting from continuous heavy rains and typhoons.

In partnership with TV5, Smart enabled relatives to make free calls to family members affected by the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

Black Eyed Peas’ apl.de.ap, who is Smart’s brand ambassador, brought Christmas cheer to Sendong survivors staying at the West City Central School in Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City.

Typhoon survivors receive relief packs from the PLDT Group.