There’s money on the waterfront even in a developing country, and we’re glad to see Filipino-owned International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) pouring some of it into projects for the needy. The ICTSI Foundation has awarded scholarship grants to 100 Filipino high school students for school year 2011-2012. This is one fine example of corporate social responsibility (CSR), a buzzword that’s often mouthed by maritime executives but seldom put into practice.

The ICTSI scholarship programme, which began in 2007, has been benefitting the poor in areas close to the ports where the company operates – Manila, Bauan (Batangas) and Subic on the main island of Luzon and Cagayen de Oro, Tagoloan (Misamis Oriental), General Santos and Davao in Mindanao. The Foundation, which administers the scholarships in coordination with ICTSI’s different port units, is fittingly headed by Narlene Soriano as executive director. For years, she has done exceptionally well as ICTSI public relations manager that we often wonder why Enrique Razon Jr, the company’s top honcho, hasn’t made her VP for public relations and CSR.

Ms Soriano, though, is apparently the type who isn’t much for titles. She simply wants to get the work done, and the Foundation certainly has much to do. ‘Unlike other scholarship grants,’ says Ms Soriano, ‘the ICTSI Scholarship Program has a wholistic approach in addressing the academic and economic needs of our scholars. Aside from shouldering school fees, the Foundation covers school uniforms including shoes and socks; daily transport and food allowance; and books, school supplies and project materials.’ Immediate plans call for extending support as well to the scholars’ parents through livelihood seminars.

Over the long term, ICTSI is looking to replicate the scholarship programme in other countries where the Group operates. This would not only add flesh to the principle of CSR. It would give it a global face. ~Barista Uno