PLDT and its wireless unit Smart extended ‘malasakit’ or compassion to distressed farmers in Luzon. Teaming up with social enterprise Rural Rising Philippines, PLDT and Smart employees and their contractors participated in the Box-All-You-Can event during the companies’ Sustainability Week celebration.
“Our farmers, even though they grow our food, are also food insecure. They have been further marginalized by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. That’s why PLDT and Smart are creating opportunities to link them with customers, in our case, through the Box-All-You-Can event,” said Stephanie Orlino, AVP and Head of Stakeholder Management at PLDT and Smart.
“The Box-All-You-Can event is not just an opportunity to buy organic local produce but more importantly, it is an opportunity to help our small-holder farmers who are struggling to put food on their very own table,” said Ace Estrada, Co-founder of Rural Rising Philippines.
The gamified activity gives participants 10 minutes to fill their boxes with fruits and vegetables sourced from farmers in Benguet, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Pampanga who were burdened with unsold goods due to the products’ visual and physical imperfections.
“It’s a huge help for us because of rising food cost. We are grateful that PLDT and Smart chose us as beneficiaries and gave us the opportunity to help our farmers,” said security personnel Joey Ojano.
Tucked under PLDT and Smart’s ‘Buy Local’ program, 250 boxes of fruits and vegetables were purchased during the companies’ Sustainability Week. PLDT and Smart donated 63 boxes to Solidarity of Orphans and Widows (SOW) and ChildHope Philippines Foundation. Employees of the two companies purchased 59 boxes for their own needs while PLDT and Smart handed over 128 boxes to the companies’ building maintenance and security personnel.
Part of the proceeds also went to the Buy Local Sustainability Fund which has enabled PLDT and Smart to extend low-interest capital loans to more than 150 farmers. As a program, Buy Local has supported more than 4,400 farmers through market linkages.
PLDT and Smart seek to uplift the lives of Filipino food growers through initiatives that open income opportunities and access to consumers. These programs are aligned with the commitment to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG No. 1: No Poverty, SDG No. 2: Zero Hunger and SDG No. 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.