GIVING back to his community is something close to the heart of San Miguel Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang, who was born and raised in Tondo, Manila.
Last week, he did just that by inaugurating Better World Tondo, a community food bank, feeding center and learning center in the capital’s working-class district.
“Batang Tondo ako, eh (I am a child of Tondo),” Ang said on the sidelines of the inauguration. “Kumita naman tayo nang kaunti, so ibinabalik ko naman dito sa lugar na kung saan ako nanggaling (I earned a little, so I give back to the place where I came from).”
Through Better World Tondo, San Miguel is working with hunger-relief organization Rise Against Hunger-Philippines to manage the collection, banking and serving of surplus food. These are sourced from food manufacturers, hotels, restaurants and convenience stores.
“We want to be able to collaborate with businesses and companies to collect excess food, store them in a food bank, to be served to those in need by community volunteers,” Ang said.
They intend to serve 1 million meals a year as part of efforts to help alleviate hunger in the country. According to the 2018 World Hunger Report, around 14.2 million Filipinos are malnourished and nearly 13.3 million do not have a secure food supply.
While Better World Tondo primarily serves as a food bank, the San Miguel chief indicated that it being a learning center, too, could inspire the children to dream.
“Why don’t we provide our children in Tondo a better place for them to try out our products? At the same time, it will be an educational place for them…. While eating, they’ll learn what’s happening, so that we can entice them to dream of becoming somebody,” Ang said.
In this regard, San Miguel partnered with AHA! Learning Center to craft after-school programs, which include teaching Math, English and values information.
AHA! Executive Director Jaton Zulueta told The Manila Times that the learning center could also possibly provide skills training.
“[T]hose who have the least in life should have the best in education,” Zulueta said. “[T]he children of Tondo really deserve the best…. They would really benefit in having a safe space.”
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso — who, like Ang, also hails from Tondo — welcomed San Miguel’s initiative to help the Tondo community, underscoring the importance of children’s health.
He said children, especially those already attending school, should be well-fed for them to understand well the lessons being taught by their teachers.
The former actor-turned-mayor urged members of the private sector, as well, to help his government in any way they can. “We really want to change Manila,” he said.