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SM Foundation Inc spearheads donation of handwashing facility for ‘Uniqlo Balik Eskwela’ program

Staying true to its commitment to help build the community, Japanese global apparel retailer UNIQLO teamed up with SM Foundation Inc. (SMFI) to lead the turnover activity of its “Uniqlo Balik Eskwela” program, which advocates for building handwashing facilities and rehabilitating classrooms just in time for school’s face-to-face classes next semester.

The program broke ground on December 6, 2022 and was piloted in 10 schools across the country including Dadiangas East Elementary School in General Santos City.

On Tuesday (Jan. 24), UNIQLO through SMFI turned over the said handwashing facility and unveiling of its marker to Dadiangas East Elementary School along with an additional Mural Painting Contest with the theme “How to take care of the earth and become more sustainable.”

SM City General Santos Mall Manager Engr. Hermon L. Hernandez said that the Uniqlo-Balik Eskwela Project here in the city was in line with the celebration of Uniqlo’s 10th year anniversary in the Philippines.

“I could still remember very well the first time I visited Ma’am Evelyn Fe E. Sanoria (the school principal) last November 23. I was busy scanning around looking for a nearby school to partner with for this project. I was very happy when she informed me that the school is also looking for a donor for a handwashing facility. I started to bring the team over for ocular visits and find ways on how to help on the classroom rehabilitation,” Hernandez said, recounting his initial encounter with the school principal.

In response, Principal Sanoria, during her acceptance speech, described the donation of the handwashing facility as an answered prayer. “Even before pandemic, DepEd encouraged handwashing habits for our learners Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in School (WinS). Your institution answered our prayers of having this facility… we now belong to 3-star category. This handwashing facility is a big help for us to commit and to promote regular handwashing, ensuring learners are safe and to reduce disease transmission in school since this is their second home.”

Shebah Jade Reyes, a Grade 5 pupil was also very thankful of this project. “I am thankful for SM and Uniqlo for putting the handwashing facility because all of the pupils in this school literally need it. With this, we can get away from COVID and germs that causes illness. Marami na din naga absent sa classes dahil sa sakit and because of this handwashing facility it might help minimize absences.”

Meanwhile, the winner of the mural painting contest, Mizuki E. Ooyama, a Grade 6 pupil relished on her meaningful masterpiece, saying: “My painting portrays saving energy and natural resources. It encourages everyone to recycle all of the things we have used in order to keep the environment clean. I want to inspire my co-learners to be responsible in taking good care of our mother earth.”

As part of SM employee volunteerism program, SM City General Santos team went out of their usual work routine and also participated in the “Uniqlo-Balik Eskwela” program. (MVCordero/SM City General Santos/PIA-XII)

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Catherine Apelacio

Information Officer III

Region 12

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