Wearing red sneakers, gray pants, and a loosely tucked-in red shirt with the name ‘Tres’ emblazoned on his right chest, five-year-old Dante ‘Tres’ Gierran III cut a charming sight as he delivered his welcome speech to the guests and visitors who came to the launch of the National Bureau of Investigation’s first day care center.
A project of the NBI Gender and Development Focal Point System in partnership with SM Foundation, Inc., the 200-square meter Development & Growth (DAG) Child Center grew out of an old, unused annex building that took two months to refurbish.
With support from the NBI-Retired and Ex-Employees Association, Inc., the fully air-conditioned Child Center now boasts of a breastfeeding room, a children’s lounge, play area, classroom/activity room, children’s bedroom center, a pantry, and three comfort rooms—a regular toilet, a person-with-disability (PWD) toilet, and a specially designed kiddie toilet.
“The NBI management had long thought of how to address absenteeism and tardiness among women employees, especially solo parents. They usually have problems on where to leave their children while they worked,” said lawyer and NBI Director Dante Gierran.
Gierran, grandfather of Tres, added that the investigation agency has some 1,475 employees, of which 517 are female and 958 are male. Some 47 parents have availed of the child center’s facilities.
He explained that while the government is tasked with providing economic support, it’s not all the time that government has money for this purpose.
PRIVATE SECTOR SUPPORT
“It’s a good thing that we have partners in the private sector to support us,” Gierran said.
Albert Uy, project manager of the SM Foundation-NBI project, said that NBI day care center is the 131st Felicidad Sy Wellness Center for SM Foundation and the 57th improved Wellness Center for Children.
“This latest facility could accommodate between 40 to 50 children. We provided everything from air conditioning to furniture, toys, and health facilities. The Day Care Center also helps employees with newborn babies as it provides a breastfeeding room for nursing mothers,” Uy said.
Former actress Connie Angeles is an SM Foundation Trustee and works as Executive Director for Health & Medical Programs of SM Foundation.
Said Angeles: “We have been renovating government health facilities, government hospitals, neonatal intensive care units, and hospitals of the police and the three branches of service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines—the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Air Force. So, we thought, why not the NBI? They have been wanting this since 2012. It’s a good thing we had the support of former Laguna Rep. Uliran Joaquin, whose husband used to be the director of NBI.”
SM Foundation, Angeles added, has committed to continuously help with the upkeep and maintenance of the DAG child center. “Should the NBI’s Day Care Center need refurbishments or repainting, we will be there to help.”
Angeles said SM Foundation spends P20 million for health programs alone. “We get a certain percentage from the companies of SM that support our programs.”
This year, SM Foundation will turn over several health facilities meant for the men and women in the military service, like the scout rangers. “During the breakout of the war in Marawi, we had just finished a military hospital in Padacan Davao,” said SM Foundation Trustee and SM Corporate Affairs head, Engr. Ramon Gil “Chito” Macapagal.
He added that SM Foundation has likewise renovated health centers in Smokey Mountain, Tondo, Manila; Bagong Nayon in Cogeo, Antipolo; Cebu, Davao, and Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro.
Macapagal stressed that agencies like the NBI has the heavy task of looking after the security of the country. “We can only help to secure the future of their children. How can they work well if they are worried about their children,” he said.
The affable SM Corporate Affairs head mentioned that the SM Foundation-NBI project supported women empowerment. “I really hope that the day care center will inspire women here in NBI that they’ve got nothing to worry about their children. We’ve got everything here. And I do hope this is just the start of future collaborations on social development projects,” Macapagal said.
The formal launch and turnover of the Child Center last November were attended by NBI officials, SM Foundation officers and guests. These included: NBI Director Dante Gierran; NBI Deputy Director Ellinor Rachel Angeles; former Laguna Rep.. Uliran Joaquin, former NBI Director Ernesto Medina, former Deputy Director Filomeno Bautista, who represented NBI retirees, SM Foundation Trustee and SM Corporate Affairs head, Engr. Ramon Gil “Chito” Macapagal, and SM Foundation Trustee & Executive Director for Health & Medical Programs Connie Angeles.
“We witness the turnover and the blessing of this center. Let us protect this place, because it is a testament to the foresight of people and the charity of the private sector,” Gierran said. G