TUBA, Benguet – Only the two of them graduated out of the 20 students who had took up mining engineering in a batch of scholars. The rest had either shifted to other academic disciplines but remained as scholars or lost their scholarships after they failed to make the cutoff grade-weighted average and other requirements by Philex Mining Corp.
One of the two graduates landed on the top 10 among the 281 passers—out of the 317 examinees who took the board exams administered in Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, and Legazpi by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), on Aug. 8 – 10.
“I am proud to say that I was a scholar of Philex Mining,” said Myla Jane Mangoltad, who graduatedcum laude and placed 10th in the board exams, in an interview. “This provided a lot of benefits: first is the financial aspect, as Philex Mining became the partner of my parents and I in attaining my degree; second is the bond me and my co-scholar created together with the management, especially the ComRel [Community Relations Dept., Padcal mine] through the different activities it has implemented for its scholars; and, lastly, is the pride of being a scholar of this prestigious company.”
Mangoltad, 21, and her co-scholar, the 22-year-old Jason Adonis, both hail from Tuba, one of the two towns—the other being Itogon—hosting Padcal mine, Philex Mining’s gold-and-copper operations in Benguet. She lives in Sitio Mangga, Brgy. Camp 3, while he is from Sitio Piminggan, Brgy. Ansagan. They both went to Saint Louis University (SLU), in Baguio City, and became Philex scholars in 2013, enjoying free tuition, a monthly stipend, and book allowance.
“First and foremost, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Philex Mining for the opportunity of being one of its scholars,” Adonis, who came over to Padcal mine with Mangoltad for a courtesy call on its top officials days after the board-exams results were published in national newspapers, said in an interview. “I do believe that access to quality education is the greatest thing a student can receive. Philex gave me that rare opportunity.”
Stressing that free education is one of the best gifts a company could give to its stakeholders, Eulalio Austin, Jr., CEO and president of Philex Mining, said, “And I am so happy and very proud that we are able to provide this to our deserving students. Not only have we adhered to our commitment in community development and environmental protection, we also have secured the future of the youth in our host and neighboring communities through our various education projects.”
The company has for this year set aside P14.4 million for its scholarship grants to college, high-school, and elementary students, as well as for those in the technical/vocational (TechVoc) courses. Last year, it allotted P11.8 million for its 114 full college and 24 TechVoc scholars; 374 students in elementary and high school who received educational subsidies; and 130 secondary students who were given education assistance (monthly monetary allowance).
Aurora Dolipas, ComRel manager at Padcal mine, said her department has been working closely with the outlying communities in the screening and processing of applicants for this year’s scholarship program for college students. “We have widened our coverage, in order to accommodate more applicants, as the demand for free education is growing from among our stakeholders,” she stressed.
In an earlier statement, Dolipas said 24 college scholars graduated this year in various disciplines, while seven other scholars finished their TechVoc courses. The company is also providing scholarships to 90 students in senior high school (Grades 11 & 12) and 140 students in junior high school (Grades 7 – 10). Educational subsidies, on the other hand, is set for awarding to 200 high-school students and 300 elementary pupils.
Funded through its Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) and the Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG), Philex Mining had sent to school 303 scholars in various college courses between 2002 and 2016, with some of them having been gainfully employed in the company after graduation. These scholars became engineers, architects, certified public accountants, registered nurses, teachers, medical technologists, policemen, and community organizers, among others.
Together with another CSR, or corporate social responsibility, program called Information, Education and Communications (IEC) campaign, SDMP and DMTG get 1.5 percent of the company’s previous year’s total operating expenses. Of the total mandated budget for these CSR programs, SDMP has the lion share of 75 percent while IEC gets 15 percent, and DMTG is allotted 10 percent.
These could be just cold figures at first glance, but Philex Mining has conscientiously implemented these programs over its more than six decades of responsible mining, as its scholars and other stakeholders themselves have experienced, witnessed, and articulated repeatedly on various occasions. From the elected officials of national and local governments to residents in the outlying villages, they all noted of the company’s fulfilled commitment to community development, environmental protection, and nation-building.
“Philex Mining has been paying religiously its taxes, which my municipality have used to uplift the lives of my constituents,” Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan has said in many different forums. For his part, Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso has noted several times in press conferences how Philex Mining has been implementing public infrastructures and other social projects in its outlying communities. Mayor Ignacio Rivera has likewise expressed repeatedly his gratitude to the company for helping develop his town of Tuba, especially with free health-care services through dental and medical missions as well as environmental protection through reforestation.
These are the benchmarks for a truly responsible-mining company, according to Mangoltad, who now aims to work at Philex Mining. “Out of the many applicants in 2012, I was lucky to land a slot [announced in 2013] on the scholarship offered by Philex Mining,” she recalled. “Now I want to be with this company as a full-time employee.” A second child, she has another sister and three brothers.
Like Mangoltad, Adonis wants to be in Philex Mining. He now looks to the future with a brighter smile, aware that he is well-equipped to tread on the real world with his mining-engineering degree. “I would want to be a part of this company that I am so proud of,” added Adonis, who is fourth in a brood of eight—two boys and six girls. “Philex Mining gave me the support I needed to achieve my dream. As I reach new milestones in life, I will always be looking back and thanking Philex.”