MANILA, NOVEMBER 29, 2007 (STAR) As part of its continuing support for the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Foundation, Smart Communications Inc. announced that it will soon begin its “Broadbanding Gawad Kalinga Communities” project.

The announcement was made during the GK1World Expo at the SM Mall of Asia last Oct. 26-27, where more than 50,000 participants attended.

With the theme “GK1World: One Hope. One Vision. One Global Army against Poverty,” Smart joined other GK partners, volunteers and workers in a gathering that aimed to renew and reinforce the commitment to Gawad Kalinga’s GK777’s goal — to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in seven years to eradicate hunger and poverty in the Philippines.

Broadbanding GK communities

Under the Broadbanding GK Communities project of Smart, the 14 regional centers of Gawad Kalinga will be connected to its head office in Mandaluyong City via Smart’s wireless broadband service, Smart Bro.

This is the initial phase of a project to connect GK communities in various parts of the country to each other and to the world.

“The Broadbanding GK Communities project is a continuation of Smart’s support to Gawad Kalinga. Linked through high-speed Internet, GK communities will soon have access to online information and education services. The GK villages will be able to communicate with their partners here and abroad through e-mail, chat, webcam and other broadband services. Eventually, this will assist GK communities in undertaking various self-help projects, including education and health programs, disaster-preparedness and livelihood projects,” said Ramon Isberto, Smart’s Public Affairs Group head.

“With GK communities ‘broadbanded,’ it becomes easier for GK communities to connect to each other, to their partners, volunteers here and overseas. This is bayanihan online,” said Napoleon Nazareno, president and CEO of Smart and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.

GK1MB SMS and online registration

In continuing support of the GK1MB campaign “GK Isang Milyong Bayani” that is aiming to mobilize one million volunteers to support the organization’s GK777 goal, computer terminals powered by Smart Bro Internet connection were set up at the venue to allow GK volunteers to register online through the GK volunteers’ website hosted by Smart —

Smart subscribers may also register as a Gawad Kalinga volunteer through text. To register, one simply keys in GK<space>REG<space>NAME/ADDRESS/BDAY(mmddyy) and send the information to 71745 (717GK) for free registration.

For example, type GK REG JUAN DELA CRUZ/123 SANTOS ST QUEZON CITY/012176, then send to 71745 (717GK). Non-Smart subscribers may send the same information to 2861.

Gawad Kalinga volunteers also danced and sang to the production numbers of teen stars — ABS-CBN’s Rayver Cruz and GMA 7’s Rhian Ramos, who both encouraged the crowd to be part of the GK1World through text or online registration.

Celebrating with the growing GK1World

At the entrepreneurship forum organized by Go Negosyo and the Entrepreneur School of Asia during the same event, Smart community partnerships head Darwin Flores joined other representatives of GK villages and successful entrepreneurs in giving advice on how to start an enterprise and how to become a successful entrepreneur.

Flores talked about Smart’s Banglos Sculptors community project that introduced the driftwood sculpture as an alternative source of income to fishermen and farmers affected by the successive typhoons in 2004.

Meanwhile, residents of the PLDT-Smart Amazing GK Villages in the Baseco compound in Tondo, Manila and Barangay Anoling in Gen. Nakar, Quezon marched with other GK beneficiaries, sponsors, volunteers, workers during the Martsa ng mga Bayani, which aimed to recognize every member of the GK community.

At the Adidas-sponsored GK Bayani Marathon: Run for Love Marathon, about 100 Smart employees joined in the 5K and 10K charity run. Proceeds of the race were donated to the projects of Gawad Kalinga.

Powering the GK1World Expo

In anticipation of the huge number of people who would flock to the GK1World Expo, Smart deployed one of its cellsites-on-wheels to the venue to accommodate the expected increase of SMS and voice calls.

The mobile cellsite — an 80-foot high tower placed on top of a 20-footer container van used as an equipment room — increased Smart’s capability to handle 2G and 3G services in a given area.

E-load services and free cellphone battery charging were also offered at the Smart booth.

Smart, together with PLDT and the PLDT-SMART Foundation, have committed to build seven PLDT-Smart Amazing GK villages in different locations.

The seven sites are the Baseco compound in Tondo for fire victims; Barangay Anoling in Gen. Nakar, Quezon for victims of floods and landslides; Camp Abubakar in Barira, Maguindanao for those who lost their homes during the “all-out war” a few years ago; Barangay Budlaan in Talamban, Cebu City for the homeless; Barangay Mandurriao in Iloilo City for families of streetchildren; Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija for families of soldiers; and Barangay Guinsaugon in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte for the victims of the massive mudslide there.

Aside from funding the construction of 100 houses per village, Smart also assists the beneficiaries through various livelihood and environmental protection programs.

“As GK communities become connected to the rest of the world, new opportunities will arise for our countrymen,” GK builder Tony Meloto.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved