Home>Editorial>Miscellaneous>PLDT, Smart partner with Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, inspires next gen youth leaders

PLDT, Smart partner with Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, inspires next gen youth leaders

Kim Jong-Ki
2019 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and founder of youth NGO Blue Tree Foundation Kim Jong-Ki shares his story of hope at the NEXTGEN Leadership Program

Finding hope, living out empathy

In the face of tragedy and difficult times, there is always hope at the end of the tunnel. Kim Jong-ki, whose son died of suicide, shared his hopeful story at the recent NEXTGEN Leadership Program: Youth Advocating for Non-Violence Online, organized by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF). Kim was also one of the speakers during PLDT and Smart’s Better Today Conversations, a virtual storytelling series on mental health and wellness.

Kim is the founder of the youth non-government organization Blue Tree Foundation. “In hopes of building a happier and more peaceful world where [the] youth can dream and hope, I have been passionately screaming ‘non-violence’ for 26 years since 1995,” Kim said during the RMAF event.

When PLDT and Smart launched their mental health and wellness program through Better Today, Kim reinforced his message of hope on how to create and build a more empathic culture within the community.

Empathy is more than just a buzzword. It is having a deeper understanding of someone else’s experiences. It is, in a way, entering the chaos of another person. Living out empathy is one of the ways in which PLDT and Smart reinforce their commitment to advocate mental health and wellness, especially in the digital space. This includes hyper-collaboration among like-minded individuals and organizations such as the RMAF.

“At PLDT and Smart, we have a program called ‘Better Today’, our collaborative initiative and platform in line with our advocacy to educate and empower Filipinos towards digital wellbeing, family and child online safety, and youth empowerment and changemaking,” said Cathy Yap-Yang, FVP & Group Head, Corporate Communications at PLDT and Smart. “Two of the most critical and key components of our Better Today program include mental health and our efforts to combat online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC). This is where we live the word ‘empathy’, as we care for the welfare of our children in the conduct of business – online and offline.”

Cathy Yap-Yang
PLDT and Smart FVP and Head of Group Corporate Communications Cathy Yap-Yang shares her message of hope and empowerment to the next generation of leaders.

Yap-Yang also shared that under the Better Today program, PLDT and Smart also have initiatives that aim to combat OSAEC. She emphasized hyper-collaboration in building the anti-OSAEC program of PLDT and Smart. This includes partnerships with global and local organizations and institutions, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Department of Education, National Privacy Commission, UNICEF Philippines, Kids for Kids PH and SaferKidsPH.

According to Kim, he faced many challenges as he built the Blue Tree Foundation. One of his key efforts include destigmatizing school violence and raising awareness about it. Kim shared that in Korea, the issue of school violence is being tackled as one of the most important social problems to address and overcome for the betterment of the youth. He mentioned how the rate of school violence has decreased from the 20% to 3% range. “The level of national awareness of the issue [on school violence] has significantly increased. Anyone can now receive education, counseling and treatment related to school violence,” Kim said.

Kim recognizes that there are still gaps that need to be filled when it comes to school violence. He underscored the importance of research and policy in building a more sustainable program. Kim shared that annually, the Blue Tree Foundation conducts the National School Violence Survey for the past 20 years. Kim transformed his grief and loss into something meaningful by creating a platform to combat school violence and to champion mental health and wellness amid the tragedies he has experienced.

During PLDT and Smart’s month-long mental health efforts for Mental Health Awareness Month in May, PLDT also partnered with RMAF in creating conversations on hope. Through the RMAF, Cecilia Garrucho, the President of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), shared an inspiring message on how today’s youth have a unique gift to transform their future into something brighter and more hopeful.

“We are grateful to the RMAF for sharing our values and our vision of empowering the Filipino youth. We hope that our initiatives encourage our youth to stand up, speak up, and advocate for non-violence online. We’re here to back you up. All you have to do is lead the charge – you, the youth of today, steering your world, our world, for a better tomorrow,” Yap-Yang said.

RMTLI NextGen Leadership Program
In photo are: Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Kim Jong-ki and members of his organization (Blue Tree Foundation); PLDT and Smart FVP and Head of Group Corporate Communications Cathy Yap-Yang; Founding Trustee and President of The Beacon School Dina Paterno; CEO and President of Go2Health, Inc. Dr. Oyie Balburias, RMAF Team, and RMTLI NextGen. They are joined by the participants of the RMTLI NextGen Leadership Program.

Better Today is PLDT and Smart’s collaborative platform for the promotion of wellness, safe spaces, and changemaking in the digital world. The program emphasizes the companies’ commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), particularly UN SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being.


About PLDT

PLDTPLDT is the Philippines’ largest fully integrated telco company. Through its principal business groups — from fixed line to wireless — PLDT offers a wide range of telecommunications and digital services across the Philippines’ most extensive fiber optic backbone, and fixed line and cellular networks.

PLDT is listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE:TEL) and its American Depositary Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:PHI). PLDT has one of the largest market capitalizations among Philippine — listed companies.

Further information can be obtained by visiting www.pldt.com

About Smart

SmartSmart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is a wholly-owned wireless communications and digital services subsidiary of PLDT, Inc., the Philippines’ largest and only integrated telecommunications company. Smart serves approximately 96% of the country’s cities and municipalities with its combined 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G network*, providing mobile communications services, high-speed internet connectivity, and access to digital services and content to over 71.8 million Filipinos*, supporting the country’s growing digital economy, and providing the best customer experience for an increasingly digital Filipino lifestyle.