Read 2008 souvenir program BETA.pmd text version

Banaag

Lamberto S. Garcia

New York, United States of America

If one would ask overseas Filipinos what project they would most likely support in the Philippines given the chance, something related to education would probably be among the top choices, alongside microfinancing and livelihood opportunities. Many consider education as vital to national development, and a right, not a privilege of all. This was what Mr. Lamberto Garcia had in mind when he opened and established the Santiago Garcia Education Foundation, Inc. or SGEFI. Born in Sta. Ana, Pampanga, he experienced the hardship and difficulties in finishing his education, his father having died when he was only 14 years old. He then worked during the day, supporting himself so that he could attend night classes, eventually finishing his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees at the Lyceum University. In 1971, he left the Philippines for the US in order to provide a better education and future for his children. All his life, he has put a premium on education, and more importantly to the struggles of hardworking students who have the determination and commitment to excel. This made him put up the SGEFI, a vocational school and training center for young adults, out-of-school youth, single mothers and those unemployed in his province of Pampanga. The main purpose of the training center is to give a chance to the underprivileged to acquire new skills in trade that can help them find jobs in the Philippines and abroad. As of December 2007, more than 1,000 individuals had been assisted in acquiring free vocational courses and training on computer literacy, hair science and cosmetology, reflexology, dressmaking and basic electronics. This has been fondly called "Libreng Eskwela" since classes and training sessions, as well as materials of the students during the course, are free. He works with the local government of Sta. Ana, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in implementing the program. Funding for the SGEFI's program is derived from Mr. Garcia's pension benefits and assistance from members of his family. By encouraging volunteerism, no fundraising activity to date has been conducted to support the activities of the Foundation. In order to sustain the ability of young people to learn, he collected books from individuals and New York public libraries in Staten Island, and shipped these to the Philippines for the foundation's library, using again his own personal funds. Today, for the first time, his community in Sta. Ana has its own library. Mr. Garcia started a pilot project called "Sipag at Tiyaga Loan", to help qualified graduates of his livelihood training program to start their own small businesses. A modest interest-free loan to be paid in two years, may be availed of by qualified graduates of the foundation under the supervision of the local social welfare officer. Mr. Garcia also gives cash awards as incentives to outstanding students every graduation day in two schools in his hometown of Santa Ana, the San Isidro Elementary School and San Isidro High School. He gives importance to the struggles of hardworking honor students with strong determination and commitment to excel. Aside from education, he also values health care. To serve the community, Mr. Garcia co-sponsored the opening of Botika sa Barangay in September 2005, where he provided the initial capital of P100,000. The project is being implemented in cooperation with the Department of Health, San Isidro Barangay Council and the Garcia Foundation. The drugstore buys its medicines directly from the DOH and its authorized agencies, and sells them to the public at a discounted price. By any standard, Mr. Garcia is not rich. His contributions to his community are modest but its effects are far-reaching considering he spends his own humble resources to make a difference. He is guided by the Chinese proverb: Give me a fish and I eat for a day, teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime. This is why his foundation is geared towards teaching the people to learn new skills to use in search of jobs. The expected long term results will be the improvement of their families, and their immeasurable contribution to society and their communities. In recognition of his unselfish innovative contributions to the community, Mr. Garcia has been given due recognition in 2005 as the Most Outstanding Kampangan, and Most Outstanding Citizen for 2005.

In conferring the Banaag Award to Lamberto S. Garcia, the President recognizes him as a partner in national development efforts, and for his community work in advancing free education for all. 33

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