Office of the Vice President
July 11, 2017
Message at the CALTEX “FUEL YOUR SCHOOL” BICOL MEDIA LAUNCH
Caltex Station, Roxas Avenue, Naga City
Mr. Peter Morris, Country Manager of Chevron Philippines, Inc.; Atty. Raissa Bautista, Manager of Policy Government and Public Affairs; Mr. Mari Delgado, Chairman of Southern Cross Distributors, Inc.; Director Ramon Fiel Abcede of the Department of Education Region 5; Mr. Jun Salipsip, Executive Director of the American Chamber Foundation Philippines, Inc.; the other executives of Chevron Philippines and of the Southern Cross Distributors Inc. and the American Chamber Foundation Philippines, Inc.; Caltex retailers, DepEd officials and staff, our dear principals and our teachers, our students who are here with us this morning, members of the media, our bloggers, ladies and gentlemen: Marhay na aga sa indong gabos!
You know, normally, on a Tuesday, I do not accept provincial invitations. I usually accept provincial invitations when it’s a Friday or a Saturday. But because it was Raissa, and it was Chevron who invited me over, I could not say no.
I do not know if my kababayans know about this. My eldest daughter, Aika, was with the Chevron family for many years before she joined government. She only left Chevron when her dad died because she felt she had a mission to continue. So, she joined government. But she had a wonderful, I think, more than three years – almost four years – in Chevron.
Young Filipina scientist and engineer Aisa Mijeno – I do not know if you have heard about her – had a vision: “to light up the rest of the Philippines.” It was a simple dream, but demanded meticulous research and hard work.
Aisa’s vision was to find alternative sources of energy for our marginalized communities, and the urgency of their need meant that she needed the solution fast and she needed it to be cheap. Her solution was simple yet extraordinary and wowed the likes of Alibaba founder Jack Ma and former US President Barack Obama. She found a way to provide electricity using only table salt and water.
The inspiration and science behind Aisa’s invention is nothing short of amazing: Together with her brother, Aisa co-founded Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt), which aims to develop an electrochemical LED lamp only with saltwater as electrolyte that can charge low-power mobile devices.
When she was working on the project, Aisa lived among the tribes in the mountains where sun and fuel-based lamps were the main source of light in the community. In the darkness that enveloped small remote towns in the Philippines, she was inspired to develop a technology that would require less material and resources. At one point, she was even called a mad scientist for it.
But she did not give up on her vision. Soon enough, they were able to produce the SALt lamp. It received various awards and recognitions from organizations, not only in the Philippines, but also in Singapore, Japan, and Korea. And yet, she lacked the necessary support while developing the idea.
So, let me ask you now: What if the future of our nation, or even the world, lies undiscovered in the mind of a child who was born in a poor family? And what if he never gets the opportunity to satisfy his mind’s curiosity because of lack of educational facilities and opportunities? We would have done the world a great disservice if we do not set the stage now for the nourishment of our future scientists’ and thinkers’ minds.
This is why what Chevron Philippines is doing here today, launching the “Fuel Your School” program in Naga City, nonetheless, inspires all of us. This is a great way of investing in the minds of our young people and democratizing access to knowledge.
This project is an investment that will provide massive returns. When young people like Aisa are able to dream audaciously and bravely pursue what no one else has done before, when they are able to spur the kind of creative destruction that changes the world, social and economic inclusion are possible.
Technology is one of the keys to making the world a much better place. Democratized access to powerful technology will create a virtuous circle of innovation that changes the trajectory of our national and global narrative. And the best way to begin democratizing access to powerful technology is through our public schools where even the last, the least, and the lost can also experience it.
Now more than ever, we need to invest in the minds of our young people. Experts predict that the youth in our country will become a major social and economic force in the next 45 years. Their earning potential is expected to turn us into a Singapore or South Korea or Japan.
But there are conditions. The youth must be gainfully employed. And for that to happen, the youth, especially those who are poor, must be well-educated and healthy.
I am happy to know that the project, which Chevron has initiated this morning, aims to provide public high schools in the Bicol region the access to modern teaching implements and educational materials. This is a very crucial step, if we want to revolutionize and improve our educational system. Classrooms provide the perfect venue in shaping the minds of future leaders and game-changers. It is in the classroom that society’s values are formed. It is where we prepare our children to survive the real world.
When I served in Congress as Representative of the Third District of Camarines Sur where Naga belongs, one of my priorities was to make sure that none of my schools lacked classrooms. But to be truly responsive to the needs of our people, these classrooms must be equipped with the right tools and equipment, and teachers must be well-trained to use them.
I am glad that the “Fuel Your School” program will do this. With every new computer, every new LCD projector, every new multimedia device, and every laboratory equipment – you build communities that encourage students to develop their skills and excel in their chosen fields.
Each one of you holds a key in unlocking a child’s future. Each one of you can create a difference in their lives. When a child is educated – a whole new world of opportunities opens up for him. There is a bigger chance for him to land on a well-paying job, break free from society’s barriers, and support his family.
Education is part of the Office of the Vice President’s six-point poverty alleviation program called Angat Buhay. If we want to push for inclusivity in our communities, we have to begin in our classrooms and protect the rights of our children – most especially the poor and underprivileged.
For all these to happen, we need to ramp up our efforts to collaborate better. We must break barriers, and do this in a better way than in the past. The good thing is that nothing is impossible if we work together with open hands and generous hearts.
I am excited, as I am sure you all are, to see the results of this project and hopefully, we can truly work together. Let us create inclusive communities that provide equal opportunities for growth and development for our children; communities that stand up for love, empathy, and compassion.
So, once again, thank you very much for the unwavering support and commitment in serving the Filipino people. Your work and tireless efforts inspire us to dream and build a better Philippines.
Marhay na aga giraray sa indong gabos at dios mabalos!