Ayala Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation Launch IT Facility For Under-Served Communities

Out-of-school youth in under-served communities will now be given the opportunity to hone their skills in information technology and use their knowledge to help improve their lives.

In a joint effort to help alleviate poverty through information technology, Ayala Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation launched the country’s first Internet Learning Kiosk (iLinK) facility at ERDA Tech, a vocational secondary school in Pandacan, Manila, on July 9. Ayala Corporation executive managing director Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Mitsubishi Corporation general manager on environmental and social responsibility Gen Kagayama joined ERDA Tech president Fr. Pierre Tritz, project partners, students, and community beneficiaries to celebrate the event.

The iLinK project aims to develop the ICT competencies of Filipinos, especially those who cannot afford access to these technologies. Explained Zobel: “With the iLinK project, we hope to make the power of information technology available to many so that it can be harnessed and used as a positive catalyst for change. Students and other members of this community gain the ability to make a difference for themselves and their families.”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding on iLinK between Zobel and Mitsubishi Corporation chairman Minoru Makihara in Japan last year, had expressed her gratitude for the support to the government’s policies and programs in information and communications technology (ICT).

Joint social responsibility project
iLinK is part of the continuing partnership that Ayala Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation are undertaking to improve education for the poor. The two companies previously worked together for the CISCO Networking Academy Program at the Laguna College of Arts and Trades and facilitated the donation of the Japanese government for the La Mesa Reforestation Project. Ayala Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation have been strategic partners for the past 28 years and have taken collaborative efforts in pursuing growth opportunities.

Said Kagayama: “I sincerely hope that this project will make a worthy contribution towards serving the ICT needs of the students at ERDA Tech and the neighboring community as well. I firmly believe in the great potential of the Philippines to become an active participant in the New ICT Economy.”

Aside from providing an Internet laboratory to select public high schools, iLinK will help build the schools’ capacity to provide quality ICT training not only to its students and teachers but also to under-served sectors of the local community. iLinK will train out-of-school youth, unemployed adults, small entrepreneurs, cooperatives, farmers and fisherfolk in the use of technologies relevant to their needs.

Over 400 students, teachers and out-of-school youth have benefited from the iLinK facility at ERDA Tech since it opened in December 2001. In April, iLinK began training and assisting in the employment of former streetchildren and community youth under the school’s PALIHAN (Palitan ng Husay at Sanayan) Project.

At the launch, a visibly pleased Fr. Tritz expressed his gratitude for the donation. He observed: “The objectives of iLinK are very much in line with ERDA Tech’s vision of becoming a center of innovative and quality education for socially disadvantaged youth. ERDA Tech is truly blessed to be a partner of this project.”

Technical programs
The iLinK project is further enhanced through partnerships. Globe Telecom is providing ERDA Tech free Internet access through Globenet for one year. iLinK will also implement technical programs initiated by AFI with partner schools and companies such as the Cisco Networking Academy Program, Center for Technical Training Excellence, and e-Skills Training.

Other components of the iLinK project include curriculum development, financial assistance, a directory of educational websites, and acquisition or development of friendly software for cooperatives and farmers’ groups.

Meanwhile, another iLinK facility has been established at Florencio Urot Memorial National High School, a day and night school in Cebu City. Three more iLinK facilities will be set up in Cagayan de Oro City, Metro Manila, and Batangas this year.


In recent years, corporate social responsibility has become a catch phrase in a private sector eager to prove that business success and social gain need not be mutually exclusive.

But in order to create real and lasting impact, Ayala Corporation president and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II believes that businesses must focus on addressing the root causes of social problems. Moreover, businesses must be able to sustain their social development programs and develop new strategies to meet new demands and changes in society.

“This emphasis on developing a commitment to national development and building trust in our community has been one of the hallmarks of Ayala’s success over the years. While we strive to create enduring value for our shareholders, we never lose sight of the interests of all the other stakeholders in our businesses and of the nation as a whole,” explains Zobel.

Contribution to nation-building
The Ayala Group welcomes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s challenge to the private sector to improve the plight of under-served sectors, something the group has been doing for more than four decades. This commitment is expressed through programs that are focused on four main areas: education, youth, the environment, and arts and culture.

Says Zobel: “More and more we are finding that it is important to support projects that the business can relate to, either because they affect a market of that business or because the company is in a position to offer solutions to the problem.”

The group believes that the basic educational system plays a critical role in the country’s progress, a principle that finds fruition in the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education. Centex provides bright children from needy families with top-quality education through an enhanced curriculum, supplemental feeding and family support and counseling. Other education-oriented programs have been developed to provide access to information technology, scholarships and awards for academic excellence.

The focus on the youth sector is also founded on the belief that the country’s future lies in the hands of good leaders. To address the need for principled leadership, the Ayala Young Leaders Congress brings together potential leaders from among today’s youth and encourages them to make a difference in their communities. The Bank of the Philippine Islands and Globe Telecom offers annual awards that recognize academic excellence in science and information and communications technology. These programs nurture in the youth the desire and capability to lead the country in progress.

Still another way that the Ayala Group is contributing to the country’s development is by addressing its many environmental concerns. Ayala Land Inc.’s solid waste management program has effectively reduced pollution in its residential, commercial and industrial projects. Manila Water Company’s Tubig Para Sa Barangay Project is providing clean, potable water to meet the needs of Metro Manila’s urban poor. Ayala companies are giving financial support and promoting awareness of environmental issues so that future generations can continue to tap the country’s rich natural resources.

In arts and culture, the Ayala Group created the Ayala Museum and the Filipinas Heritage Library as repositories of the country’s national heritage. Located in the heart of Makati’s central business district, these institutions are bringing Filipino art and history closer to the public.

The Ayala Group is able to continue these social responsibility programs even in times of economic uncertainty by providing resources, technical services and volunteer time of its employees and officers.

For instance, Ayala Corporation, Globe Telecom, Ayala Land, and BPI put together their resources and expertise for projects such as the UP Ayala Technopark, Youth Tech, Center for Technical Training and Excellence, Ayala Intel Computer Clubhouse, and the Integrated Learning Kiosk.

Corporate citizenship is also encouraged at all levels of the organization. New hires are invited to imbibe core values which put a premium on concern for others and commitment to national development. Thousands of employees from companies such as Ayala Corporation, Ayala Land, Globe Telecom, BPI, Manila Water, and Integrated Microelectronics Inc. have repeatedly participated in Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Hour, NAMFREL, and the La Mesa Reforestation Project, programs that have been selected for their sustainability and long term impact to society.

This spirit of volunteerism has led to the creation of the Ayala Volunteers Program for employees looking for opportunities to help others as well as the Ayala Business Club which leads Ayala companies in identifying the needs of their host communities and developing programs that respond to these needs.

Long-term commitment
While these programs have succeeded in making an impact on the lives of many Filipinos, the Ayala Group continues to look for new ways to address the needs of under-served sectors in society.

The Ayala Volunteers Program will soon get the involvement of business and non-business partners, customers, beneficiaries, and the general public in social development projects identified by the Ayala Group.

Ayala Foundation Inc. has also ventured into tapping Filipinos abroad who wish to help their countrymen by establishing Ayala Foundation USA (AFI-USA). AFI-USA will serve as a conduit for funds from migrant Filipinos for projects that will be funded in the country. Meanwhile, the Filipinas Heritage Library continues to develop various culture-oriented websites that link the academe, art community, and Filipinos all over the world. A bigger, world-class Ayala Museum is set to reinvigorate the local art scene as well as the business district when it opens in 2004.

Corporate social responsibility is always a long-term social commitment but Zobel believes the Ayala Group’s success can become an example for others. He is optimistic that more companies will take up the challenge to alleviate poverty and bring progress to all Filipinos.

Notes Zobel: “Our vision is that all companies should look at themselves as productive members of the community and of society. We should continue to build trust across a wide spectrum of publics by trying to keep the interests of the broader community in mind as we make decisions. We strongly believe in the value of good corporate citizenship and try to become a catalyst for social change in any way we can.”