BULACAN, Philippines — Eagle Cement Corporation (Eagle Cement) supports its communities anew as it launches a 120-day feeding program for the children of its host community and neighboring barangays in various areas in San Ildefonso and Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.
As the pandemic continues to threaten the livelihoods of Filipinos in the margins of society, corporations big and small are continuously challenged to foster recovery and growth by serving their communities. “We’ve been supporting our neighboring communities even before the pandemic struck and COVID-19 has only magnified our role in helping them survive and get back up,” says Annaline Buizon, Community Relations Officer of Eagle Cement. “There was fear and uncertainty in the community so we immediately had to act,” Buizon added.
The Company, which also calls San Ildefonso home, has an integrated cement manufacturing plant in the town and has been playing an active role in the development of the community since 2008. Thus, in the early months of the pandemic, Eagle Cement mobilized to distribute food packs to its partner communities in San Ildefonso as well as in Malabuyoc, Cebu. Since the first distribution leg in March, the Company has shared over 21,000 food packs to 21,000 families as a form of first-aid to address the early economic challenges brought on by the new normal.
With the economy slowing down and even coming to a halt during the early months of quarantine, the effects of the pandemic were deeply felt by the residents of Sitio Narra, a small, tight-knit community, tucked in the corners of San Ildefonso, where workers earned their living from agri-businesses, carpentry, trucking and setting up small shops.
“Simple lang ang kabuhayan ng karamihan sa amin kaya malaking bagay ang bawat tulong na naihahatid sa aming community (Most of us earn a living through simple means, so any type of help meant a lot to our community),” shares Roxanne Vergara, teacher-in-charge at Narra Elementary School. “We were forced to stop or limit our movements. Yung ibang kasamahan namin sa barangay, wala silang source of income or financial support so yung suporta na natatanggap namin, nakakatulong talaga (Some of our fellow community members did not have any source of income for a time or financial support, so every aid extended to us was a big help),” Vergara expounds.
Feeding for the future
Now with community quarantines eased and the whole nation slowly adapting to a new way of life, Eagle Cement continues to fortify its support to its communities with the launch of a 120-day feeding program for the children of select barangays (Akle, Alagao and Talbak) in San Ildefonso and neighboring town Dona Remedios Trinidad. The program, which started in August this year and will run until February 2021, will feed 250 children through a weekly distribution of Nutribun packs along with vitamin and milk packages.
For Teacher Roxanne, this initiative by Eagle Cement is aligned with each teachers’ mission of shaping the values and aspirations of children. “Sa amin bilang guro, ang project na ito ng Eagle Cement ay investment para sa future ng mga bata. (As a teacher, this project is Eagle Cement’s investment in our children’s future.) “Sa barangay namin, karamihan ng bata ay galing sa mahirap na pamilya kaya madalas hindi sila nakakakuha ng sapat na nutrition para makapag-perform nang maayos sa school.” (A lot of kids in our barangay came from poor families who cannot provide good nutrition that helps drive their performance in school).
“More than this, we are giving them hope by showing our confidence in the person that they can become. Education is not just about the lessons that we teach but also the presence of support and the love that we are offering as teachers and members of the community,” added Teacher Roxanne.
The feeding program is being done in collaboration with each barangay’s health workers and mother leaders to ensure that proper safety protocols are followed during distribution. Eagle Cement also set up a regular monitoring system, as well as baseline and endline evaluations to measure the program’s results. The Company will then share the data to the barangays to include in their own health assessments, which can then inform future projects.
For Eagle Cement, the feeding program is a crucial component of their holistic Corporate Social Responsibility program which tackles the following areas: family and community, livelihood and employment, infrastructure support, growth and development, health and emergency response, and technology and education. “We help our partner communities not only because we want to be a good corporate citizen, but because we sincerely know that our Company wouldn’t thrive without them. We want the communities that we are part of to grow with us through both good and turbulent times,” Buizon remarks.
The feeding program is also aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, one of which targets to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.