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Companies to Build More ‘Yolanda schools’ in Visayas

LEYTE – Officials of First Gen Corporation, First Balfour and the Leyte Rebuilding Team of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), all of the Lopez Group of Companies, held simple ceremonies in Ormoc City on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, to launch the third and latest phase of the Lopez Group’s school rebuilding program for areas devastated by super-typhoon Yolanda.

A day before, they were also at the San Joaquin National High School in Palo, Leyte to turnover a 3-classroom building, one of the last buildings under the Leyte Rebuilding Project phase 2.

On its first and second phases, the Lopez Group’s Leyte Rebuilding Project repaired and constructed 77 classrooms in public high schools in Leyte. For Phase 3, they are constructing 43 more, expanding their area of service to include Sulat in Eastern Samar and Capiz.

During the launch of Phase 3, Lopez Group officials presented to concerned local and national government officials the blueprint and design of the classrooms for construction. It was also noted that while the Phase 3 classrooms are typhoon-resilient as the previous, as required by DepEd, its external design is a departure from the yellow and green colors of the agency, so that it would have an identity of its own.

Present during the launch were Renato Castillo, First Gen senior vice president and head of Risk Management; Albert Ignacio, SVP of First Balfour; Mr. Leonardo Ablaza, EDC project manager of the Leyte Rebuilding team and senior architect Jim Ambalayon of Casas Architects, who designed the classroom. The architect hails from Guiuan, E. Samar.

On the receiving end were Mayor Elmer Codilla of Kananga, Mayor Rolando Celebre of Leyte, provincial DepEd superintendent Ronilo Al K. Firmo, Ormoc DepEd superintendent Mariza Magan and the principals of the recipient schools.

Mrs. Magan, in receiving the classrooms for Ormoc, said it does not matter if the color or design is different, what is important is the generosity, love and show of unity it symbolizes. She said that after Yolanda, battered schools looked hopeless but with the help of the Lopez Group and other generous donors, these same schools are already ready to take on the school year.

Ms. Catherine Marie C. Cabrillos, deputy project manager of the Leyte Rebuilding Project, said the management of the Lopez Group of Companies decided to pool resources from their different companies to fund the construction of the Phase 3 classrooms in 20 sites. They have also expanded to places outside of Leyte to include Sulat in Eastern Samar and Capiz.

First Gen, First Balfour and First Philec are funding Phase 3 with P 58-million in pooled funds as part of the Lopez Group’s continuing commitment to help rehabilitate areas devastated by Yolanda.

”The Lopez Group has volunteered to act as a development sponsor in Leyte for government’s overall rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas devastated by the super-typhoon” said Renato Castillo, SVP of First Gen.

Leonardo Ablaza, on the other hand, told media that aside from school buildings, the Lopez Group have other projects to help in the Yolanda recovery effort like how the Kananga-EDC Institute of Technology (KEITech) redesigned its courses to include a three-month training program for carpentry, plumbing, electrical installation and maintenance, basic welding and masonry. KEITech, EDC’s technical-vocational school, expects 1,080 graduates to earn certifications from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority by June 2016.

First Gen is one of the biggest independent power producers in the Philippines with an installed capacity of 2,957 megawatts. It is the primary holding company for the power generation and energy-related businesses of the Lopez Group through First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH). EDC, a First Gen subsidiary, is the world’s largest vertically integrated geothermal company. First Balfour, on the other hand, is the Lopez Group company engaged in construction and engineering services, while First Philec is the intermediate holding company of FPH for manufacturing and technology-related investments.

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