The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee June Cheryl Cabal-Revilla, PLDT’s comptroller and first vice president who won under the Community Service category for leading the PLDT GabayGuro advocacy, has achievements that when quantified, certainly merit the distinction.
But what matters most to Chaye, as friends call her, is something far immeasurable: To make sure the teachers feel they are being looked after by the kindest and most generous core team and volunteers. This means going by ever-evolving pillars based on the belief that education is key to poverty alleviation and national development with teachers playing a big role in that. As the activities of GabayGuro change, the help expands in response to the needs of teacher-beneficiaries at any given time and circumstance.
To many to work for such a dynamic foundation could be tiring, maybe even taxing. But to Cabal-Revilla, the effort comes easily as it is all about serving the teachers with a heart of gratitude.
As she always says, “We have been doing PLDT GabayGuro to try and give back by changing the lives of those who changed ours with God’s grace.”
From scholarships and training pillars, the foundation’s thrust now includes providing tribute, livelihood, broadbanding/computerization and housing/education facilities.
PLDT GabayGuro has a very hands-on approach and encompassing philosophy. Most recently, right after the recent tragedies in Tacloban and Bohol, the group met with the teachers; gave them allowance, Smart SIM reloading starter kits, personal toiletries and grocery items; handed them cash calamity assistance; and flew in expert to help them get over the emotional trauma of the tragedy. These are just for starters.
In paying tribute to teachers at the Mall of Asia Arena and via “Pahalipay” legs in Bohol and Tacloban, they invite the country’s biggest stars like Cesar Montano, Robin Padilla, Derek Ramsay and Anne Curtis who all readily agree to help replace the sadness in the teachers’ hearts with joy. At these events, PLDT GabayGuro raffles off cash and goodies, and even a house and lot.
Then there are the classrooms they built in Tagbilaran, Loay and Cortes less than two months after the earthquake hit in October 2013, with more to be completed and turned over in Capiz and Samar come March and April.
“The classrooms, when turned over, are ready for use with blackboards and cork boards, chairs, fans for added ventilation and classroom supplies. These were built to withstand 250 kph storms and seven-scale earthquakes. The classrooms we built in Cebu were able to withstand the earthquake in October last year and the winds of Yolanda of up to 300 kph in November.
“We plan to add a Media pillar where we will also equip our classroom facilities with cable/DTH TV where we could stream trainings and lectures, among others,” Cabal-Revilla said.
Everything is carefully mapped out in consultation and coordination with the local governments and the Department of Education. All buoyed in the spirit of compassion and care.
The tireless finance expert and foundation head is taking her cue from PLDT’s top honcho Manny V. Pangilinan.
“The weekend after the Bohol earthquake in October, MVP texted us [on a Sunday morning]an impassioned message to do something in Bohol, more than just provide relief goods. He wanted us to help in the rebuilding of the devastated areas,” she revealed.
While teachers are the primary beneficiaries of GabayGuro’s help, Cabal-Revilla believes the volunteerism has a multiplier effect. “We help them [the teachers]as individuals, we give hope to their families [as they are fathers/mothers in their respective families], and we are also able to pass on the hope and positive outlook to their students and their students’ families.”
She further underscored the importance of teachers in times of tragedies especially those brought on by natural calamities. “They are looked into as key to disaster control and recovery. In most instances, their schools are being used as evacuation centers and they are expected to help out in the shepherding of evacuees.
“Also key to recovery and rebuilding is the normalization of the educational system and teachers are key to that. There will be no classes without teachers. Their positive outlook and hope will rub off on their students, so that they are key in the recovery and rebuilding efforts of any area devastated by any form of tragedy,” she said.
That the teachers do all these things and more, yet largely remain unsung heroes moves Cabal-Revilla.
She is all the more touched that even for the smallest things, the teachers have always been grateful to the foundation. “Their smiles and hugs and words of love inspire us to do better. Our scholars say that we are not mere scholarship grantors but that we treat them like family; we look after them and mentor them as parents as well. The teachers appreciate the fact that we help them even if it is not our obligation.”
When asked who the Filipino teacher is, Cabal-Revilla painted a picture of an agent of change and excellence. “A happy and fulfilled Pinoy teacher inspires all students to wake up everyday, excited to go to school and learn. Teaching is more than just imparting technical knowledge; it is enabling and producing competent and moral students who will become wholistic and passionate Filipinos, and who will catapult our country to excellence in the future.”
With that, PLDT GabayGuro is an investment in the hopes and positive change of the nation. And June Cheryl Cabal-Revilla is sincerely grateful to be of help.