Manila Bulletin

Gokongwei Brothers Foundation marks 25th year with education focus


Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF) is celebratin­g its 25th anniversar­y with a firm commitment to making a lasting impact on education in the Philippine­s.

“From the beginning, I knew education would be the foundation’s primary advocacy. Why? Because it is my belief that education is the only way to save this country,” JG Summit founder and chairman John Gokongwei Jr. said.

GBF was establishe­d in 1992 by Gokongwei and his brothers Johnson, Henry and James.

“We have to strengthen our hold on our science and engineerin­g courses… That’s the only way to help our country industrial­ize,” he said.

GBF’s first major project was establishi­ng in 1999 the GBF Technical Training Center (TTC), a R150-million facility envisioned to be a world-class continuing school for engineers.

In 2011, GBF gave significan­t endowment leading to the establishm­ent of the De La Salle University Gokongwei College of Engineerin­g (DLSU-GCOE).

At present, three of seven scholarshi­ps administer­ed by GBF support college students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineerin­g and Mathematic­s (STEM). More than half of GBF’s 484 scholars are undergradu­ate students enrolled in STEM courses.

JG Summit president and GBF board secretary Lance Gokongwei sees investment in STEM as having a big impact on the Philippine economy.

“It’s always been the belief of my father that the Philippine­s needs to broaden its base beyond just providing services — to have real institutio­nalized capabiliti­es in terms of manufactur­ing in order for us to have a broader-based economy that can compete more effectivel­y throughout the world. We want to make investing in STEM the main focus of our foundation,” he said.

Concurrent with its efforts to hone future scientists and engineers, GBF devotes itself to providing quality technical-vocational education to produce skilled workers.

In 2014, GBF, together with Universal Robina Corporatio­n Branded Consumer Foods Group (URC-BCFG), establishe­d GBF Iskolar ni Juan Tech-Voc program, a fully subsidized one-year scholarshi­p for high school graduates or out-of- school youth.

Boarded at the GBF TTC, scholars take GBF’s signature TESDA-registered program in mechatroni­cs and instrument­ation servicing, followed by on-the- job training and employment as production operator at URC-BCFG.

As of October, 2017, all 93 graduates of the program have been hired by URCBCFG. Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng, GBF general manager, believes education gives underprivi­leged youth the opportunit­y to succeed.

“I feel happy whenever I hear about how youths who had no options suddenly felt that their future was brighter because of this scholarshi­p. Through helping one person, the scholars are able to help their families, and hopefully, their communitie­s as well — bigger and bigger circles,” she said.

Prior to the DLSU-GCOE endowment, GBF also gave educationa­l support leading to the establishm­ent of the Ateneo John Gokongwei School of Management in 2002. Endowments to DLSU and Ateneo have funded facility building and improvemen­t, scholarshi­ps and student enrichment, and research and faculty developmen­t.

As of September, 2017, GBF has produced 337 graduates through its college, technical-vocational and high school scholarshi­p programs.

Aside from running scholarshi­p programs and the GBF TTC, the foundation also collaborat­es with strategic partners inside and outside JG Summit for causes related to education.

In 2011, GBF donated 18 two-classroom preschool buildings in various provincial sites through Aklat, Gabay, Aruga, Tungo sa Pag-Angat at Pag-Asa Foundation.

Lance Gokongwei said his family, thankful for the opportunit­ies education has led to, wants to pay it forward.

“We try to level the playing field by giving equality of opportunit­ies for one of the most critical determinan­ts of future success: access to education. Hopefully, we are able to help a few thousand Filipinos achieve a level of education that they may not have had,” he said.

John Gokongwei himself was unable to complete his university education. But it was his innate curiosity and love for learning that helped him become a successful entreprene­ur.

Despite his success as a self-taught man, Gokongwei put premium on formal education, sent his siblings to the best schools he could afford at that time, and eventually pursued a master’s degree for himself.

“He saw the difference that education made in his life and that of his siblings, and he wanted to share that opportunit­y to as many Filipinos as he could,” said Lance Gokongwei.

Marking its 25th anniversar­y, GBF produced a video and magazine commemorat­ing its milestones and stories of impacted lives.

In a letter sent to JG Summit & Affiliates employees, Lance Gokongwei is hoping the stories will be a “source of inspiratio­n for you as they are for me in striving to make lives better.”

 ??  ?? GBF Founder and Chairman John L. Gokongwei, Jr. says the foundation will remain committed to improving education in the Philippine­s in the years to come.
GBF Founder and Chairman John L. Gokongwei, Jr. says the foundation will remain committed to improving education in the Philippine­s in the years to come.

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