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Pandacan residents train for safe firefighting self-sufficiency thanks to Chevron, BFP

EMPOWERED: Overcoming dependence with capacity building efforts in disaster response.

Pandacan, Manila – Chevron Philippines Inc. (CPI), marketer of Caltex brand of fuels and lubricants, leaves as legacy a culture of safety to Barangay 834 in Pandacan, Manila by providing a firefighting training program in partnership with the Bureau of Fire Protection and donating various firefighting equipment to its former host community.

Barangay 834 chairperson Remedios Uy used to worry about the residents’ readiness to respond to disasters and emergencies, especially in the event of fire. “Since Chevron Pandacan Terminal was built in the 1920s, our barangay had been dependent on the oil depots in the district to keep us safe from disasters and emergencies. Chevron always prioritized safety and disaster risk management programs. And because of our proximity to the terminal, they are always among the first provided us with firefighting assistance,” noted Uy. She shared that when the dismantling of the oil terminal began, there was an apprehension about their competence to face the unexpected. “When we related this problem to Chevron, we are gratified to know that our corporate neighbors share the same concern. Better yet, they helped us build our capacity to become more effective in disaster response.”

Together with project partners NGO Venture for Fund Raising and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Manila, Chevron held a firefighting workshop for Barangay 834 volunteers which included drills in addressing firefighting incidents. In addition, the village was given 15 sets of fire extinguishers including cabinets to be installed in strategic locations within the barangay. The volunteers who completed the training also received Caltex jackets as graduation tokens. Chevron also donated several sets of firefighting equipment to the BFP trainers.

“Even if the depot no longer exists in Pandacan, Chevron continues to make us feel safe. With this project, we now have the necessary equipment to fight fires and the crucial skills to act decisively during emergency situations. We also established a strong connection with BFP-Manila which will facilitate the continuing search for more proactive solutions for disaster preparedness. We are very grateful to Chevron for teaching us to be confident in dealing with emergency situations. This legacy of self-dependence will remain with us for a long time” Uy added.

“With the practical training and the much-needed firefighting equipment and suits provided to both the barangay and the BFP, the community has gained an enhanced capacity to respond to fire incidents,” confirms fire inspector JL Aaron Caro, substation commander of BFP-Pandacan. “BFP-Pandacan thanks Chevron for providing all these, and more importantly, for ensuring that the culture of safety remains here even after the company has left the neighborhood,” he added.


About Chevron Philippines Inc.


Chevron Philippines Inc. has been operating in the country for more than 90 years. Caltex™, its retail brand, offers high quality products and services. There are close to 700 service stations strategically scattered throughout the Philippine archipelago and employees working in several areas of business such as Marketing, Lubricants and Terminal operations. The Chevron products that are available in the Philippines include Caltex with Techron® fuel and Caltex Diesel with Techron®D, Havoline® and Delo® oils. More information on Chevron Philippines Inc. is available at

Awardees Of The First Manila Water Foundation Prize For Engineering Excellence Named

The awardees of the premier run of the Manila Water Foundation Prize for Engineering Excellence (from left to right): Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano. Jr., Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, Dr. Evelyn B. Taboada, Dr. Merlinda A. Palencia, and Engr. Rex B. Demafelis after the awarding ceremony held at the Grand Ballroom of InterContinental Manila on November 24, 2015.

Manila Water Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) formally introduced and honored the very first awardees of the Manila Water Foundation Prize for Engineering Excellence to recognize their innovative solutions to some of society’s problems and to inspire more home-grown engineers to use their talents in nation-building via projects that champion water, sanitation, environment, and sustainability.

After a thorough screening process that followed the opening of nominations in June, five (5) exemplary engineers proved to be the crème de la crème of the Prize’s maiden year.

Engr. Rex B. Demafelis, the current Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, was recognized for his work on the production and processing of sweet sorghum into bioethanol that enforces local accountability and positive social change.  He says that his venture of using sweet sorghum will not only address the issue of biofuel, but will also greatly contribute to the poverty alleviation of the country especially the farmers in ethanol producing provinces.

Poverty alleviation was also one of the inspirations of chemical engineer and University of San Carlos College of Engineering Dean Evelyn B. Taboada.  A native of Cebu, Taboada patented the bio-technology and chemical process of turning fruit waste such as mango peels and mango seeds into high value products. This initiative was not only successful in achieving 100% zero waste, it has also generated employment for numerous scavengers in her hometown.

Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, a professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, used his expertise in surveying and hydrology to create maps that provide early warning systems and give vital information of possible flooding occurrences.  Adapting to the modern technology, Paringit and his team also offers mobile phone map apps, as he firmly believes that such products and services should be accessible to everyone, anywhere and at any time.

Bringing technologies from the lab to communities is a passion of Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr., a professor of electrical and electronics engineering at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Recognizing the need for more cost-effective monitoring of landslide-prone slopes, he and his team developed instrumentations that provide scientists with better insights into slope stability towards more accurate prediction. He also led efforts in developing engineering interventions for rapid restoration of communications capability in the aftermath of disasters.

Dr. Merlinda A. Palencia, who serves as the Dean of the Graduate School of Adamson University, spearheaded the creation of an affordable solution to the sewage and sanitation problem of the country through low cost wastewater treatment technology.  The application of locally abundant organo minerals (OM) that make wastewater treatment economical, safe, simple, odor-free and sustainable was proven effective in Palo, Leyte where it was able to address the septage problems in the temporary shelters of people affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

All five Manila Water Foundation Prize for Engineering Excellence awardees pose for a photo with Former President Fidel V. Ramos and the men and women of Manila Water Foundation led by its Board of Trustees.

Aside from the honor of being the premier recipients of the Manila Water Foundation Prize for Engineering Excellence, each awardee received PhP 500,000, a medal, and a trophy that features the work of renowned art photographer, Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala.  Said Prize, which is part of the Manila Water Foundation’s 10th anniversary scale-up, aims not only to recognize the Filipino engineers’ dedication in finding solutions that give positive and relevant impacts, but also to inspire practitioners and aspiring engineers to come up with innovations that Filipinos will greatly benefit from.

Ferdinand M. de la Cruz, President of Manila Water Foundation, explained the rationale behind the selection of winners.  “If you look at the five awardees, they have their own individual stories but a lot of them are both academicians and practitioners. They’re teaching engineering students and young engineers what they know and at the same time use their knowledge and scientific depth to solve problems or create opportunities.  They are not only acting on theory, but more importantly, their applications help their own societies. That’s what sets them apart and all of them have been doing this quietly without drawing attention to themselves. All of them have hit certain challenges along the way and yet they continue to pursue what they have started,” dela Cruz said.

DOST Secretary Mario G, Montejo, meanwhile, cited how each awardee has stepped up and addressed uniquely Filipino problems that require uniquely Filipino ingenuity. “To come up with innovation, you need two things.  One is to have very good engineering fundamentals and the other one, you have to be creative.  As far as engineering fundamentals are concerned, there is no difference between Filipino engineer and others.  Creativity serves as the clincher because Filipinos are innately creative. If you mix it (creativity) with engineering fundamentals you will come up with innovation engineering and that’s what makes Filipino engineers special,” Montejo remarked.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos (center) makes his signature hand gesture with (from left) Manila Water Foundation Board Member Abelardo P. Basilio, Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology President Filemon T. Berba, Jr., Manila Water Foundation Chairman Gerardo C. Ablaza, Jr., DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, Manila Water Foundation Executive Director Carla May Beriña-Kim, Manila Water Foundation Independent Trustee Cielito F. Habito, Pilar Habito, and Manila Water Foundation President Ferdinand M. dela Cruz.

The awarding ceremony of the Manila Water Foundation Prize for Engineering Excellence was graced by notable personalities such as Former President Fidel V. Ramos, former NEDA Director-General Cielito F. Habito, and social innovator Vicky Garchitorena. Manila Water Foundation Chairman Gerardo Ablaza, Jr. and DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara helped hand out the prizes to the awardees.

Former President Ramos, who is a licensed engineer, lauded the organizers for coming up with a set of extraordinary awardees. He said that he firmly believes that Filipino engineers need to be honored more. “It is about time that the engineering profession is recognized, as engineers help build the country. We must develop a culture of excellence that comes from the people’s power that leads to global competitiveness, and a condition of enduring peace and sustainable development in the Philippines.  Kaya natin ito (We can do it),” he said.


The Manila Water Foundation Prize for Engineering Excellence will be a biennial search and will continue in 2017.

IT training center gives new hope to unemployed, out-of-school youth

A mother of four, Velinda recalls working day in and day out as a reflexologist some years ago so she can send her children to school. She and her family were among those who relocated to Rizal after Typhoon Ondoy hit the country in 2009. Despite the hardships of finding work, add to this the challenge of being new to the community, Velinda continued to strive harder.

Now already retired from doing reflexology services, Velinda is one of the beneficiaries of the CEMEX Information Technology (IT) Training Center for unemployed individuals and out-of-school youth in Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City— the largest barangay in the Philippines.

Velinda plans to put up her own computer shop upon completion of her one-year computer course at the CEMEX IT Center.

According to her, the reason why she joined the program is because she wanted to learn more about IT networking. “To help augment my family’s income, I thought of putting up my own computer shop and with my troubleshooting skills, I won’t need a technician anymore,” she said in Filipino. “I’m sure I could learn a lot of stuff here and it’s all for free!”

Velinda is one of the 300 out-of-school youth and high school graduates who are now attending classes at the IT Center.

The CEMEX IT Training Center currently has qualified Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) trainers as instructors. Participants in the program will receive a TESDA certification once they have completed the course and passed the evaluation. This certificate will come in very useful especially when they apply for work.


Graduates of the program also get equipped with a lot of other skills like maintenance of IT network systems, computer repair, setting up of servers, and troubleshooting. Aside from IT courses, the center also offers English classes to help the students improve their communication skills.

Another recipient of the program is Irish Beth Natividad. Irish shared that she wanted to help her parents in sending her younger brother to school. “All that I’m learning here, I can definitely use to find a better job to help them,” she said.

“In our neighbourhood, many were not able to go to college. That’s why knowing how to operate the computer is very important nowadays since computer literacy is a standard requirement,” said Irish. “I will definitely share what I’ve learned here to my community so that I can help them enhance their capabilities and improve their lives as well.”

Both Velinda and Irish have since expressed their gratitude to the local government unit of Antipolo City and CEMEX Philippines for their optimism and support to the out-of-school youth and unemployed members of the community.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity given to us. This will definitely better our lives. The chance to study again is really a big help for us because the knowledge we will be armed with will benefit us in the long run. They taught us how to sustain ourselves, to become competitive individuals who will be able to, comparatively, catch our own fish and not just depend on other be able to live well,” Velinda ends with a smile.

Ariel Yson, community relations officer of CEMEX’s Solid Cement Plant, shared how the training center was conceptualized. “The local government through the barangay approached us to ask for support in the construction of the two-storey training center. We immediately said yes because helping build education is really close to our hearts.”

CEMEX Philippines took care of financing the cost of the school building while the local government took care of staffing the center with qualified trainers.

Expert skills bring young mason to places

By Ma. Fatima Cruz

The market for skilled workers abroad is still large and waiting to be filled, but in the face of increasing competitiveness in the global arena, Filipinos need to continue setting themselves apart with a reputation for excellence and strict work ethics.

The story of 28-year-old Saudi worker Wilbert Balbuena is one of a personal drive to excel, coupled with finding the right opportunities for doing so.

Born in Dumaguete, Balbuena didn’t get to finish high school due to hardships, followed by the separation of his parents. However, he pursued his dreams of a better life by going to Manila where he found livelihood as a construction worker.

His commitment to his chosen job and his perseverance eventually took him to the ranks of leadman mason for a construction company in Taguig. Balbuena would often go the extra mile for his employer, and these efforts eventually caught the attention of his team’s project engineer who nominated him for further education and skills training.

He was one of the four masons required by their project engineer to attend the Experto Ako! Masonry Skills Training Program organized by cement manufacturer CEMEX Philippines in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

Ayoko sana pumunta dahil akala ko wala akong bagong matututunan [I was hesitant at first because I felt there is nothing new that I needed to learn],” said Balbuena, who later admitted to have been proven wrong.

Such training programs are important in professionalizing the industry of skilled workers in the country, according to CEMEX Philippines Foundation Executive Director Chito Maniago. “It is a commonly accepted part of our culture to rely on informal means of educating our laborers and workers, such as mostly those in the construction industry— masons, carpenters, and the like,” he explained.

“We need to do away with those practices and it’s time that we give value to our most valuable asset which is our labor force,” added Maniago. Efforts such as these training programs, in turn, increase the competitiveness of Filipino talent to world-class standards.

The Experto Ako masonry skills training program is an intensive 30-day course designed and implemented by TESDA through licensed instructors. The sessions are usually scheduled five days a week, starting as early as 7 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.

The mason scholars are excused from their work and, in lieu of this, CEMEX provides stipend, food and transportation allowances, and lodging quarters for all the participants. This way, attending classes and workshops early in the morning will be more convenient.

The program scholars usually come from the existing network of CEMEX clients. These construction, engineering, and labor companies nominate deserving employees to participate in the program. In Balbuena’s batch, he was one of the 27 scholars across Luzon who passed the rigorous screening conducted by TESDA and PBSP.

Attending the program is a privilege for chosen ones like Balbuena, who in turn willingly undertook some sacrifices for this opportunity. For instance, CEMEX offered on-site lodging for mason scholars; however, Balbuena chose to commute everyday to be with his then pregnant wife. He would board his motorbike from his residence in Taguig to get to the training site in Antipolo, Rizal.

Aside from technical skills, the Experto Ako! program also provides vital leadership and values formation workshops to hone the right attitude that is important for professional and personal success.  “Natutunan ko ang kahalagahan ng pakikisama, ang magplano sa buhay, pati na rin maghawak ng negosyo, at marami pang iba [I learned the importance of getting along with people, planning my life, as well as entrepreneurship, and a whole lot more],” shared Balbuena.

The program included a TESDA-supervised assessment that was composed of practical and theoretical knowledge on masonry. In Balbuena’s batch, a hands-on exam required them to fix the campus wall of Cabarrus Elementary School, CEMEX’s adopted school. After passing the tests, the Experto Ako scholars received their national certificate from TESDA, which is recognized both locally and globally in terms of masonry competency.

With the correct methods and latest technologies in cement application that Balbuena learned, he was able to eventually land a more lucrative job abroad, as a mason foreman for the ABV Rock Group Company in Saudi Arabia. He knows that his TESDA certification was a big help in providing an edge over other applications.

Thanking CEMEX, TESDA, and PBSP, Balbuena enthused, “Sana po ipagpatuloy pa nila ang Experto Ako program para mas marami pang mga mason na katulad ko ang matulungan at magkaroon ng magandang oportunidad.” [“I hope the Experto Ako program continues to help more masons like me gain better opportunities.”]


The Experto Ako Masonry Skills Training Program also graduated two more batches of scholars in Naga City, Cebu and San Remigio, Cebu. The next leg to be launched this year will take place in Iloilo.

CEMEX turns over ‘bancambulansya’ to Daanbatayan, Cebu

Bancambulansya is a hybrid vessel that serves as a banca (boat) for water search and rescue missions and as a regular ambulance.

A boat ambulance, which enables patients to be immediately rescued or transferred from a far-flung island to the hospital, is exactly the kind of marine vehicle that coastal villages need.

Recently, CEMEX Philippines Foundation turned over the fully equipped CEMEX Bancambulansya to the Municipality of Daanbantayan in northern Cebu.

The CEMEX Bancambulansya will be docked at Malapascua and Carnaza and it will patrol the municipality’s 15 coastal barangays. Their fishing ground is around 400 to 500 square kilometers which is considered quite large.

Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro said that the boat ambulance will be very helpful not just for transporting patients from the coastal areas to the mainland but also for water search and rescue missions. “Be assured that our municipality will take care of the bancambulansya,” added Corro.


“Please take it to heart that CEMEX Philippines Foundation is very happy to have helped you in our own meaningful ways. Although the typhoon brought very distressing events, it also brought out the good and best in people— the kindness and malasakit (care) from every person, not just from fellow Filipinos but also from concerned individuals and groups abroad,” said Paul Vincent Arcenas, CEMEX Philippines vice president for strategic planning.

“Apart from the projects we have completed with your help, we will always treasure the relationship we have built with your municipality,” added Arcenas who also serves as board member of the CEMEX Philippines Foundation.

Aside from the boat ambulance donation, CEMEX, through the help of Apo Cement’s Emergency Response Team led by Engr. Ariel Lazarte, also conducted a water search and rescue training for Daanbantanyan’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

The onslaught of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 left the 15 coastal barangays of the municipality in a state of distress and calamity.

Most of the families were forced out of their homes to find a safer location during the disaster but upon their return, they no longer have roofs or walls to shelter them.

“After we were hit by Yolanda, there’s no such thing as small contribution. Every help counts,” recalled Corro.

Earlier this year, CEMEX Philippines Foundation also turned over the CEMEX Unity Village in Pajo, Daanbantayan to provide new houses to some of the affected families. The construction of the village was implemented in partnership with social development organization Gawad Kalinga.

“Back in 2008, the poverty incident is around 43 percent. After the disaster [in 2013], our donors’ intervention, including CEMEX, helped uplift the lives of our communities by providing houses for them. You can just imagine how happy they were when they finally have houses of their own built on a safer ground,” shared Corro.

The Foundation also donated a hematology analyzer and blood chemistry analyzer to help detect signs of dengue. According to studies and evaluation by the health office of Daanbantayan, there was a high rate of casualties amongst children in the area due to late detection of dengue fever.

“Lately we had an outbreak of dengue and as of August 15, we had 41 cases. We are very thankful that we have this laboratory equipment now to quickly address this health issue,” expressed Corro.

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