Core to Meralco’s CSR is the COMMUNITY ELECTRIFICATION program from which all other social development initiatives emanate. While there are other programs such as youth development and disaster response, the Community Electrification focuses on how Meralco creates shared value for all its stakeholders in the work of nation building. The electrification program addresses a very fundamental need in the community without which other opportunities for development might not thrive. The program has been providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to the most vulnerable and underserved communities – informal settlers, portions of resettlement areas, isolated communities, schools, rural health centers and agricultural centers. The program also develops socialized schemes so that marginalized households will have access to electricity. It also usesits own competencies and its people’s commitment so that the act of helping is inclusive, meaningful and sustainable.
In 2013, the Foundation energized 3,079 households belonging to 22 communities within the Meralco franchise area. These households belong to marginalized families which could not afford the initial cost of electrification. Entrepreneurial families have started small businesses to improve their household income now that they have access to affordable and reliable electricity. In San Miguel, Bulacan, the further development of a very promising moringa farming program spearheaded by non-profit organization Green Earth Heritage Foundation was hampered by the lack of a sustainable means of irrigating their farmland. Because the farm was located miles away from the last electrical post, channeling electricity to power an electric water pump would be too costly and inefficient. Determined to help save the livelihood of the 36 farming families, OMF installed two solar-powered water pumps which now deliver water to the farm’s export-quality crops. The farm is the only United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-certified moringa tea producing farm in the Philippines.
The connection between energy and education cannot be underestimated. In the age of computers and new media, introducing new technologies to students at the earliest stage possible gives them the tools they need to prepare for the future. Technology is powered by energy. Unfortunately, many schools in the country have no access to this valuable resource. Stirred by its determination to help these children leverage their capabilities and skills on technology, the foundation energised 60 public schools located in remote and island communities in the past three years. This benefited thousands of school children who are now able to experience hands-on learning using new ICT tools.
These projects did not just provide a means to access electricity. It helped households, remote communities and schools turn their potential into productivity.
Meralco Employees’ Volunteerism as key driver of CSR. Service defines the company’s culture and every individual employee’s character. This is best expressed in the active volunteerism of its employees which is a major sustainability pillar of Meralco’s CSR programmes. Rooted in its corporate value of Malasakit or genuine concern for others, it has engaged 2,724 Meralco employees logging more than 25,000 volunteer hours to serve 33,396 families in 2013.
For example, its immediate response in times of calamity rely on the strong “makabayan” or patriotic spirit of its employee volunteers who are always ready to serve. Apart from calamities, the volunteers also undertake activities throughout the year which help preserve the environment and promote progress in the communities. These include repainting of classrooms and pedestrian lanes, tree planting, shoreline clean-up, and other similar projects simultaneously done during our annual community days. Volunteer activities prioritized are based on the expressed interest of the employees and based on their competencies. Each year, three corporate-wide Makabayan Days (Community Action Days) are scheduled.
The year 2013 was particularly challenging as it was the year when Typhoon Haiyan, the biggest typhoon in history, made landfall. Its employees donated a day’s worth of their salary for the reconstruction of schools through the “1 Day2Give” program. This resulted to the construction of 18 classrooms in heavily devastated areas. A portion of the fund was also donated for the repair of damaged churches. Plus, 200 volunteers made up four power restoration teams which were sent to the most damaged areas to help in the recovery of 25,000 families in a number of towns and provinces.
How do we measure the results of your CSR work? The foundation looks at the impact on productivity in the lives of its beneficiaries. This is reported in its annual report at www.onemeralcofoundation.org. It will also partner with third party research organisations and the academe for formal measurement activities. CSR activities are part of many departments’ traditions and employee engagement. It is also part of our individual development and performance assessment.