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Shell’s “Gas Mo Bukas Ko” program continues to enrich lives

Hardships in life and a lack of financial means often make it difficult for some people to finish their education and secure a good future. Sometimes, however, money isn’t the only thing needed in order to succeed -- all it takes is an opportunity to learn, and the prospects of earning would follow.

Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) had this idea when it first came up with the Sanayan sa Kakayahang Industriyal or SKIL program, which it created in response to the increasing number of out-of-school youth in the country and growing need for skilled workers all over the globe. Since its inception in 1983, the program has already benefitted more than 5,000 scholars, most of whom have gone on to lead productive lives by putting to good use the technical-vocational skills they’ve learned through the program.

Buoyed by the success of the SKIL program, the company thus adopted the “Gas Mo Bukas Ko” (GMBK) program in 2007. A scholarship program aimed at helping improve the lives of scholars’ families and aid in the development of communities surrounding Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (Shell) retail station sites, GMBK was initially offered to retail station crew with the support of Shell’s retail dealers. Later on, dependents of workers in public transport as well as contractors of Shell House were also offered GMBK scholarships.

By the end of 2010, a total of 844 graduates have completed their training at PSFI’s partner schools (TESDA, Don Bosco, STI) and industries (Jollibee, Keppel and Panasonic). This year, another 88 scholars from NCR and Cavite area have graduated. 

Of the 88 scholars this year, 37 completed the Automobile Mechanic Course, while 16 took up Industrial Electronics at Don Bosco Technical Institute Makati.Twenty one scholars finished Basic Computer and Hardware Configuration and 13 completed Basic Bookkeeping course at STI College Cubao. One scholar finished structural welding at the Marikina Polytechnic College.

“This graduation is just the beginning of your journey towards success,” said Edgar Chua, Country Chairman of Shell companies in the Philippines, in his speech during the graduation rites held at Pilipinas Shell’s office in Makati. “We want you to continually learn. I am challenging and encouraging each and every one of you to continue with your education. The technical vocational courses that you finished will be your stepping stone when you pursue higher education.”

“You fuel our future” (the literal translation of Gas Mo Bukas Ko) is Shell’s answer to a need to further improve the lives of service crew in its retail stations. GMBK offers technical vocational courses like Automobile Mechanic, Basic Computer, Bookkeeping, Cell phone repair, Computer Servicing, Electronics, Food and Beverage Servicing, Refrigerator and Aircondition Repair and Welding.
 
“We want our retail station crew to improve their lives. We want them to rise above the ranks not only within the station but outside as well,” said Edgardo Veron Cruz, Executive Director of PSFI.
 
GMBK scholars usually rise above the ranks inside the Shell retail station. If they have shown exemplary performance and good character while working at the station, the forecourt attendants eventually get promoted to more challenging roles. To date, two of Shell’s GMBK graduates have been promoted from being station supervisors to becoming station managers.

A grateful GMBK scholar
Rodrigo Orbien, a GMBK scholar who is also team leader for Shell Magallanes station, is grateful to PSFI and his retail dealer for giving him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We feel very fortunate for having been given this opportunity. We promise that we’ll make the most out of all the things we learned from our teachers and trainers in school,” said Orbien.
 
Orbien, who has been with the company for 2 years, is a product of a broken family. He had to forego his formal education in order to support his four brothers. 

The PSFI scholarship enabled Orbien to finish the industrial electronics course at Don Bosco, Makati. According to Orbien, he initially felt the difficulty of managing both his studies and work at Shell. However, fueled by his desire to improve his worth and show everyone he deserved the scholarship, Orbien worked intensely to succeed.
 
“I was working the whole week, then every Saturday, we had to undergo whole-day training. It was really challenging but I managed to survive,” he recalls. He added that this experience will help him mature more as an individual. “I learned how to prioritise goals, to value what’s important in life.”
 
The “Gas Mo, Bukas Ko” is a unique scholarship program. Prior to taking the vocation courses, the scholars first undergo a Leadership Enhancement and Attitude Development (LEAD) workshop to uplift their morale and self-esteem. Shell dealers provide transportation allowance to the scholars while course fees and all supplies and materials that they need during their training are shouldered by Shell.

Since its inception, the initiative has since benefited almost 800 Shell retail station staff and 150 dependents of public transport workers.