It was a major tourism event that became more an occasion to highlight the importance of education.
Tiger Air Philippines’ first international commercial flight from Singapore to Kalibo—an affirmation that Aklan’s capital city has become a true international gateway to the world-renowned Boracay Island—showcased an important investment for the future by the low-cost airline.
Just as soon as the visitors left to enjoy the pleasures of Boracay, Tiger Air president and chief executive officer Olive Ramos was presenting scholarship certificates to eight students of the 45-year-old Garcia College of Technology (GCT).
The scholarships underscore Tiger Air’s commitment to support the growth and development of Aklan’s capital to help advance its own goal of making the municipality a major hub of its expanding operations.
No fancy inaugural
Ramos said the company decided to launch its new product by highlighting its corporate social responsibility initiative instead of spending a lot of money on fancy inaugural activities that would have a fleeting impact. She added, “Our intention is to make Kalibo a hub of Tiger Air business.”
To achieve that goal, the company will need to develop people to beef up its pool of talents and skills.
Although the scholars were under no obligation to join Tiger Air, Ramos said they hoped to hire at least two management trainees from the eight grantees.
“We want to be part of the nurturing process [for future Tiger Air employees] when they are young,” Ramos said.
Helping people finish their studies through scholarships, she said, was something she personally believed was a good investment for the future.
A beneficiary herself of the Gov. Jaime C. Laya scholarship through Urban Bank, Ramos knows the importance of financial assistance for education.
“I wanted to be able to help others, too,” the cum laude accounting graduate of Polytechnic University of the Philippines said, expressing the hope that the scholars would do the same when given the chance.
Emphasis on character
In choosing the scholars, Ramos said, aside from the usual grade and annual family income requirements, they put special emphasis on character.
“For progress, [the right] values are more important than academic achievement. It will be more significant if they are able to help others,” she said.
Tiger Air hoped to share with the grantees its corporate values—authenticity, warmth and integrity, she said. It wanted scholars, who might join the company later, to understand early on the premium Tiger Air placed on safety, she said.
Tiger Air chose to partner with GCT, which educates young people from Panay provinces—aside from Aklan, Antique and Capiz—and the neighboring province of Romblon, on the recommendation of former Gov. Carlito Marquez, an engineering graduate of the Manila-based Mapua Institute of Technology.
The former governor called GCT “the Mapua of Aklan” for its impressive track record in government board examinations for engineers.
GCT recently received from the Professional Regulation Commission a certificate of recognition for its second-place performance among schools with 14 or more examinees in the April electrical engineering licensure examination. It registered a passing rate of 87.5 percent.
Marquez told the grantees “poverty is not an excuse for those who really want to perform well … it is not a hindrance to people who want to achieve success.”
Incumbent Gov. Florencio Miraflores said Tiger Air might have future pilots from among the grantees.
Joan Marie G. Tadia, a second-year Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) student, was unfazed at being the only female grantee. “I believe whatever men can do, women can also do,” she said.
Jun Edmel R. Teodosio, a third-year BSEE student, vowed not to waste the opportunity given to him to help his family and the community.
Graduating Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) student Ariel Ricafuente said he believed nothing was impossible. He also hinted to his corporate sponsor that he hoped to become a pilot for Tiger Air.
Like Teodosio, Jimzel G. Rebano, second-year BSME student, vowed to prove himself worthy of the scholarship and to help his family and the community.
Jephthah Priam Daedalus I. Gumban, a fourth-year BSME student, said he wanted to be an inspiration to others who had lost hope that they would be able to study because of financial constraints.
Promising to live up to expectations, Kermith Philip F. Motus, fourth-year BSEE student, said he hoped to be among the topnotchers when he would take the board exam so his name would also be displayed on a tarpaulin outside his alma mater.
Dexter Tabia, graduating BSEE student, said he believed in education as it was something he could pass on to his children. He added that he would try to give back to the community for the opportunity afforded him by Tiger Air.
John Ross C. Guarino, a second-year BSEE student, hoped the scholarship would enable him to achieve his dream of a good life and allow him to help his family.
Aside from the scholarships, Tiger Air also gave 20 computers to GCT. Ramos, during an unscheduled visit to the computer laboratory, launched an impromptu competition among hotel and restaurant management students.
She asked them to design a flyer promoting Tiger Air’s Kalibo-Singapore-Kalibo flights.
The prize? A trip to Singapore, of course.