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Berong Nickel Corporation (BNC) has been contributing to the attainment of the United Nations’ (UN) Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) on Community Development.
Since the start of its mining operation in 2007, this UN framework on community development has already been the guiding norm of BNC in the implementation of its community development programs for the communities of Barangay Berong and Barangay Aramaywan, in the Municipality of Quezon, Palawan.
In more than 10 years, BNC has already implemented about P277 million worth of projects for two (2) community development programs. Of this amount, P148 million was spent for the implementation of the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) covering Barangay Berong and Barangay Aramaywan and P129 million for the Community Royalty Development Plan (CRDP) of the Berong-Aramaywan Tagbanua Association, Incorporation (BATA, Inc.), the indigenous community partner of BNC. These community development programs cover the areas of education, livelihood, health and socio-cultural.
Education is one of the major components of BNC’s community development programs. A big amount is allocated to support the scholarship of qualified college students, 7 public elementary and secondary schools, 11 child development centers and 5 alternative learning system (ALS) centers.
Since 2007, there were already a total of 163 college graduates in different fields such as but not limited to education, information technology, social work, entrepreneurship, nursing, engineering and among others. Some of them are already employed in government agencies and private sectors. At present, BNC is now in the process of selecting incoming college scholars for school year 2019-2020.
BNC supports 7 public elementary and secondary schools in Barangay Berong and Barangay Aramaywan with 2,300 students. Some of the major projects and activities being supported are the engagement of 11 para-teachers to augment the lack of teachers in these schools. These para-teachers contribute to the learnings of more than 500 students. Apart from this, 3 educational transports is provided to service daily during schools days about 600 students. This activity is undertaken to ensure that students can regularly attend their classes and reduce school dropouts.
BNC also supports education of out-of-school youths and adults in Barangay Aramaywan and Barangay Berong. In partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Municipality of Quezon, BNC is implementing the alternative learning system (ALS), a program of DepEd in educating out-of-school youths and adults who have not finish their for formal education.
BNC has engaged the services of 5 ALS facilitators to support 320 out-of-school youths and adults in Barangay Aramaywan and Barangay Berong. Since 2012, there were already 43 ALS graduates and some of them have already finished their college education.
Early childhood development is also a priority area for BNC’s education program. This activity provides supplemental subsidy for 11 child development center (CDC) workers with about 300 toddlers. Teaching materials such as storybooks and lesson plan guidebooks were provided to improve the quality of teaching in child development centers.
BNC also provides support to improve educational infrastructures and facilities. About 3 elementary classrooms, 1 multi-purpose building, 5 ALS learning centers, 5 CDCs were constructed. In addition, about 5 classrooms, perimeter fences, kiosks, pathways, school offices, ICTs and school ground were improved. Different educational technologies were also provided to advance the method of teaching such as laptops, computer desktops, printers, solar panels, projectors, cameras, LED TVs.
Academic and non-academic activities such as scouting, drum and lyre, journalism, math and science competition, poster making, and community immersion were also supported.
BNC provides direct employment on the average to more than 500 individuals in its operations annually in Barangay Berong and Barangay Aramaywan. Aside from this, BNC provides livelihood especially for people not able to be employed. As a farming and fishing community, livelihood activities are majority concentrated on farming, agroforestry and fishery.
In 2018, BNC supported about 25 farmers occupying 12 hectares for corn production. More than 137 hectares is being developed for agroforestry. To date, more than 27,000 trees were planted with rubber, coffee, calamansi, citrus and cashew. About 94 hectares are interspersed with more than 13,000 banana. The 94 beneficiaries for the banana plantation are now earning from their harvest.
On farming, infrastructure, farm implements and inputs are a major component in advancing farming activities. About 16-kilometer farm-to-market roads were improved benefitting more than 1,000 families and 185 farmers. Solar dryers were also constructed. Farm inputs and implements provided were fertilizers, insecticides, seeds, hand tractors, threshers, farming tools, sprayers and water pumps.
On fishery, seaweeds farming, sea cucumber (balat) culture and traditional fishing is also promoted as alternative livelihood. About 72 fisherfolks is engaged in seaweeds farming while 18 fisherfolks is supported in sea cucumber culture. Apart from this, fishing materials and equipment such as fishnets, hooks, boats, engines and sinkers were provided to 45 fisherfolks. Equipment for fishery protection and management such as floater marker, underwater camera, telescope and patrol boats were also provided.
Other livelihoods promoted are dress making, handicraft weaving, animal dispersal, piggery and poultry.
BNC gives importance for the wellbeing of its communities by contributing in enhancing the delivery of basic health services. BNC facilitated the construction and improvement of the health centers of Barangay Berong and Barangay Aramaywan. It also provided 2 units of ambulance to support community health related emergencies. The communities of Barangay Berong and Barangay Aramaywan can access the health clinic of the company for immediate emergencies.
BNC provides supplemental subsidy to 53 barangay health workers (BHWs) to support them as they perform health related services to 6,000 individuals such as pre-natal, immunization, home visitation, health awareness, check-up and community emergencies.
BHWs are also supported by training and equipment to improve their capacity in the delivery of basic health services. These equipment and materials are solar panels, camera, washing machine, refrigerator, BP apparatus, stethoscope, weighing scales, laptop, glucometer, cabinets, stair-up bed, office supplies and surgical tools.
BNC gives the community access to potable and clean water. About 4,000 households in Barangay Berong sourced their drinking water through BNC’s reversed osmosis water system and the 58 community deep wells (jetmatic pumps) that are regularly sampled and chlorinated.
BNC supports other activities that improve social services and promote the appreciation of cultural practices. In this regard, BNC invests in improving community infrastructure and facilities such as barangay halls, churches, barangay plaza, barangay roads, basketball court and electricity.
In particular, the support for the project on rural electrification has been very significant. BNC has installed a diesel-powered generator to supply electricity to 130 households. BATA Inc., the IP partner of BNC, has distributed solar panels and batteries to 918 IP households.
BNC also supported the Barangay LGUs of Aramaywan and Berong, and the different community organizations by providing them with the needed technological and equipment support such as vehicle, desktop computers, printers, photocopier, solar panels, sound system, musical instrument, grass cuter, celling fans, generators and monoblock chairs.
BNC has significantly supported the promotions of social and cultural activities such as foundation day, patron saint celebration, IP cultural traditions, baragatan, manunggul festivals, youth development and senior citizen activities.
Peace and order is also supported by providing supplemental subsidy to barangay tanods and lupon members. Disaster preparedness is undertaken through the distribution of relief goods and extension of equipment as needed.