Over 200 students in two elementary schools in Batanes happily received their Sacks of Joy, a bag containing various school supplies, from the PLDT-Smart Foundation.
By Katrina A. Mallari
PLDT employee Emelita Sato, Former Batanes Vice Governor Ferdie Cultura, and PSF President Esther Santos join some of the Sack of Joy beneficiaries.
Over 200 students in two elementary schools in Batanes happily received their Sacks of Joy, a bag containing various school supplies, from the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF).
Chanarian Barrio School and Mahatao Elementary School were the most recent beneficiaries of PSF’s Sack Of Joy program whose volunteers distributed 55 and 173 bags, respectively. These schools were nominated by Emelita Sato, a PLDT employee, who likes to help people, especially schoolchildren in remote towns like Mahatao in Batanes.
“The spirit of volunteerism will always be part of PLDT’s culture. For my part, I have always wanted to help people. It is in seeing the smiles of the children that make all these little moments turn into big, priceless ones,” Sato said.
“The Sack of Joy program aims to reach far-flung areas across the country and Batanes’ location in the Northern tip of the Philippines has qualified it as one of the program’s beneficiaries,” PSF President Esther Santos pointed out. “We believe that education is life’s greatest enabler and through the Sack of Joy program, we hope to foster the love and passion for learning among the youth,” Santos added.
For Sato, Batanes has always been a familiar place. She first fell in love with the locale during her first visit in 1982 when she was in college. The beauty of the place and the goodness of the people captivated her. She returned to Batanes in 2007 and began visiting the place at least twice a year.
In one of her visits, she saw underprivileged kids at the public school beside the residence where she was staying and thought of helping them somehow. “The children in Batanes are outstandingly diligent and enthusiastic. They appreciate the simplest things. They do not have much, but they always make the most out of what they are given. I am grateful to PSF for what they do. The Sack of Joy bags will truly go a long way for the children,” Sato said.
Every time she goes to Batanes, this lively lady finds a way to bond with the children by sharing a simple meal or giving them toys. Treating them as her own kids, she embraces all of them with open arms.
“Being with the company for 31 years now, I have seen various ways in which we build a culture that thrives by focusing on the needs of our customers. In a way, the empathy we show to our customers helps build our character as we interact with other people outside our jobs,” Sato said.
Aiming to reach more communities in hopes of providing better quality education to school children, PSF will soon deliver 30 additional bags to San Vicente Barrio School in Ivana, Batanes; 24 to Chavayan Barrio School and 22 to Savidug Barrio School – both in Sabtang Island, Batanes.
The Sack of Joy program started in April 2018 at Sta. Cruz Elementary School in Maribojoc, Bohol. Since then, it has distributed over 7,000 Sack of Joy bags, benefiting 61 out of its target 90 schools nationwide.