During calamities, SM is one of the first responders that provide immediate relief to affected individuals and families. Through its corporate social good arm, SM Foundation Inc. (SMFI), SM activates Operation Tulong Express (OPTE) as the need arises.
When Super Typhoon Odette devastated the Visayas and Mindanao and left thousands homeless in December 2021, SMFI, together with SM Supermalls, SM Markets, and other SM affiliates and partners, immediately mobilized its relief operations in over 35 barangays in Butuan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, and Palawan. The foundation gave out Kalinga packs, which consisted of rice, bottled water, and other basic essentials.
Indeed, to say that SM’s humanitarian response is already part of its culture is an understatement. The company has always been extending a helping hand to those in need, especially in grassroots communities.
As a company that has been committed to social good, it is part of SMFI’s vision to engage its employees through volunteerism. Volunteer employees can give back by spreading social good in the communities where they personally live and work.
SM’s help, however, does not stop there. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, SM was the first to donate PPEs, face masks, and alcohol to the country’s medical frontliners. Later on, it donated medical equipment like ventilators and X-ray machines to hospitals and Covid-19 facilities.
Connie Angeles, Senior Assistant Vice President and Executive Director for Health, SMFI put it this way, “SM did their part in looking after not only the communities but the whole country. In fact, during the pandemic, we really looked for the hospitals that needed our help. We noted the number of frontliners in the hospitals and we sent them the supplies that they needed.”
Angeles said that in all her 22 years as head of the health and medical programs of SMFI and more than 40 years in the public service through the TV show Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko, this was the first time for her to witness the devastation Covid-19 caused on the Filipino people.
“This pandemic, which affected the entire world, was hard to understand. One day you see people you know who are strong and healthy. The next day, you hear that they have died because of Covid. It reached the point that there were so many casualties and so many patients who required hospitalization. Even the owner of the hospital, who happens to be a friend, could not accommodate SMFI’s request. This is the reality of Covid. You will just find out that someone you know died in the parking lot because he could not be accommodated in the hospital,” Angeles said.
Thanks to the inspiration of the Sy family, Angeles said she and her staff were able to overcome their fear of contracting Covid-19.
“They keep asking us what we can do and what we can give. I’m grateful to the Lord that I’m part of this company because I can see how they cared for our employees, the communities and the families. SMFI did its share of conducting free Covid tests for the employees and providing medicines for the sick. And I’m proud to say, that we were able to establish a temporary Covid facility for everyone,” she said.
Prior to the pandemic, the foundation renovated over 170 government and public hospitals many of which were utilized during the pandemic to treat minor injuries and check-up for senior citizens. The foundation was able to fully utilize its five mobile clinics located at the NCR, Visayas, and Mindanao, to help Filipinos.
“I’m so proud of the mobile clinics that we have because we give the complete dose of prescribed medicines and antibiotics after the checkup. Among other procedures, our mobile clinics do cholesterol counts, CT scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds. We don’t charge, everything is free of charge,” she said.
“For the past 10 years, SMFI conducted monthly medical missions all around the Philippines. The foundation hopes to be back to our usual schedules so we can extend medical assistance to our countrymen,” Angeles concluded.
Indeed, the former child star who rose to fame by playing the youngest sister of showbiz superstar Vilma Santos in “Trudis Liit” has come a long way. She entered politics in the 1990s and became a two-term councilor and then the second female Vice Mayor of Quezon City.
Today, she remains to be the face of the longest-running public service show, Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko. Although she has long retired from government service, Angeles said, she shall be forever a public servant at heart through SMFI.
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