Building a home of storytellers through PLDT and Smart’s mental health initiative

A 16-year-old incoming senior high school, a mental health survivor, an online ESL teacher and a K-pop fan. They are the four winners of PLDT and Smart’s Better Today Time Capsule Project, a mental health initiative that focuses on art as a form of catharsis. 

The winners received a ‘meaningful connections boost’, which is a connectivity package from Smart worth P25,000. Each winner also had an opportunity to give a ‘community changemaking boost’, which is a matching donation for their favorite mental health charity or advocacy group. 

“In PLDT and Smart, through our Time Capsule Project, we hope to inspire a generation of changemakers and advocates. We want to give every Filipino Youth a chance to tell their story. This is the legacy that we are building: a home of storytellers who find their voice and speak their own truth— in every way possible and in all forms. All these serve as a valid reflection of our time today,” said PLDT and Smart FVP and Group Corporate Communications Head Cathy Yap-Yang. 

Healing takes time 

25-year-old AMarie V is a writer and a big K-pop fan. While she was scrolling through her Facebook news feed, she chanced upon the Time Capsule Project and decided to enter the competition. Her entry called, ‘The Moon Princess’ is a short story about hope where the main character endures hard times and is reminded of her strength. 

“Like the moon princess, everyone radiates their own light – their passion, dreams, hope, faith, and love. But because of the challenges we encounter, sometimes, it’s hard to be okay all the time,” AMarie V said. “Like the moon princess, we will experience this kind of season. But, we will always have those people who will remind us to stand up and live happily again. We just need to embrace this phase and keep on trying and not give up,”

According to AMarie V, the Time Capsule Project enabled her to be honest with her feelings. “Once we acknowledge our weaknesses and that we need help, healing starts. So, through this Time Capsule journey, I was able to free myself. And it feels good,” AMarie V said. 

She chose the Light of Jesus Pastoral Care Center as the recipient of her community changemaking boost. It is a ministry who provides free sessions for emotionally and spiritually wounded.

Appreciating the simple things

16-year-old Gabrielle is an incoming senior high school whose dream is to become a graphic designer. Her visual art, which is a short comic strip, about her furry little friend Splatt won her a place in the Time Capsule Project. 

“My dog keeps my family and I happy every day. When I think about how our lives were before having him, I can easily see that he has brought joy into our family,” Gabrielle said.

According to Gabrielle, the Time Capsule Project encouraged her to hone her skills as she created her art. She ended up expressing her feelings through the comic. For her, making the art felt therapeutic. 

Gabrielle gave a community changemaking boost to the Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines, which is a support group community and a mental health initiative run by volunteers. 

Embracing grief, moving forward

Carlos Ilustrado shares her personal story on hope and resilience. She embraced what she was feeling the past year after losing her father. She wanted to tell her story as a way to reach out to other people who may share the same experience. She wanted to remind them that they’re not alone.

“I’m often lost but I was truly lost when my father died – having him taken away is like losing a limb. I was angry, but I wasn’t alone. I have my family and I still have myself. I want to make my father proud, even if he’s not here anymore,” Carlos Ilustrado said. 

For Carlos Ilustrado, writing is her way of expressing her feelings and emotions. “It’s a choice to move forward. We’re not meant to be in one place. Life goes on and it’s best to hold on to memories so we can move forward,” Carlos Ilustrado said. 

Carlos Ilustrado chose to share the community changemaking boost to the Boxless Society, which is a growing community and support group for artists who are diagnosed with mental health conditions. 

Championing mental health

Zcyra Mae is currently studying dentistry at the University of the East. She is a mental health survivor and advocate. She found out about the Time Capsule Project through the Youth for Mental Health Coalition, Inc. “I decided to join because I wanted people to know that even in the darkest times, storms will pass and the sun will shine again,” Zcyra Mae said. 

Zcyra Mae’s poem called, ‘Dreams to Wake Up for’ is inspired by her dream of becoming an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. According to her, ever since she was a child, she dreamt of serving people and alleviating their pain. 

In 2017, Zcrya Mae’s mental health deteriorated, which she felt was her rock bottom. She had to file for a leave of absence and drop some of her classes. The Time Capsule journey helped Zcyra Mae to bravely share her story. “It created an opportunity for me to write a poem which is a big part of my soul. Writing made me feel at home in my safe haven. It became a form of catharsis ever since I discovered that I could release my repressed emotions through writing, I started using it as one of my healthy coping mechanisms,” Zcyra Mae said. Zcyra Mae donated her community changemaking boost to the Youth for Mental Health Coalition, Inc., which is one of the country’s largest mental health advocacy groups. 

PLDT, Smart, Cignal and PayMaya team up with The SM Store for Freedom Sale

Customers of the Philippines’ largest, fully integrated telco PLDT, its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), and its affiliates Cignal TV and PayMaya will enjoy exclusive offers at The SM Store from June 11 to 15, 2021.

Smart and TNT are offering a 20% discount on selected prepaid load, and 30% off on all WiFi devices. Meanwhile, new Smart Signature or Smart Bro Postpaid customers will also receive free SM Gift Pass e-vouchers for successful applications on selected plans. PLDT is offering free installation and modem fees for customers who will sign up for PLDT Home Fibr Unli 1699, 2399, and 2999 plans during the period.  

Customers who will purchase prepaid Cignal kits or boxes will also receive a free P1,000 load, or waived minimum installation fees for postpaid accounts. Shoppers at The SM Store can also get a 6% discount when they buy selected Cignal prepaid load cards. PayMaya users can get a chance to receive cashbacks when they shop at The SM Store or use SM’s Call to Deliver service with a minimum spend of P1,000 per transaction via the PayMaya app. Aside from that, the SM Store is also offering exclusive discounts and rewards for selected PLDT, Smart, Cignal products via SM’s Call to Deliver service. Customers can also get to buy select items for only P1 from The SM Store via its Call to Deliver service when they shop for their Smart prepaid essentials on June 12, 2021.

“This is a way for us to encourage and empower PLDT, Smart, Cignal, and PayMaya customers to pursue their passions and live life to the fullest through our customer-focused offers,” said Precy P. Katigbak, FVP and Head of National Key Accounts at PLDT and Smart. “Through the years, our partnership with The SM Store has allowed us to reach more customers, particularly as we celebrate the country’s Independence Day.”

“The SM Store is excited to take part in another campaign that will greatly reward our customers. Through this partnership, we aim to provide our valued customers convenient access to the technology tools they need for their increasingly digital lifestyle,” said Dhinno Francis S. Tiu, SVP for Business Development of The SM Store.

Freedom Sale raffle promo

Aside from exclusive offers, over 200 lucky customers may get a chance to win load, SM gift passes, cash, gadgets, and a grand prize of P150,000 PayMaya credits. Each purchase of a PLDT postpaid line, Smart load or WiFi device, Cignal load, use of PayMaya in The SM Store or via SM Call to Deliver service, or P2000 worth of items from The SM Store entitles a customer to register for the promo.

Customers simply need to scan the corresponding QR codes that are deployed at The SM Store to join the Freedom Sale raffle promo.

Visitors at the stores are encouraged to strictly follow health and safety guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, and practice social distancing protocols inside the malls.  For more information, visit

PLDT’s digital literacy program instills lifelong learning

Over 19,800 learners nationwide participated in the 10 sessions of PLDT’s Infoteach Outreach Webinar Series, enabling learners and educators to carry on at home gaining new knowledge from experts.

Presented in partnership with the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), PLDT’s digital literacy program top-billed Lifelong Learning for its final session, attended mostly by Grade 7-12 students from public schools. 

Highlighting the value of learning even after completing formal education, Dr. Rustica R. Lorenzo of the Department of Education Schools Division of Valenzuela City advised that education doesn’t stop after college, because it is a lifelong process.

“We need to pursue knowledge voluntarily,” she said. “We need to go beyond career advancement. Lifelong learning will help you understand how the world works. It can help you realize your passions and boost creativity. Never cease to study and learn.”

As for UPOU Chancellor Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, she advised cultivating a positive attitude towards learning.  “Something has to change in our attitude towards learning and how we can look at learning,” she said.  “Hindi yan parusa sa atin (learning is not a kind of punishment). This is not something that we are doing because we are obeying our parents. Lifelong learners are motivated, hindi tayo itinutulak, hindi tayo pinipilit (We are not pushed, we are not forced). We are motivated to learn and develop because we want to do it. It is a deliberate and voluntary act.”

Among the benefits Bandalaria cited include renewing self-motivation – figuring out what inspires, recognition of personal interests and goals, and re-igniting what makes one tick.

As talks of Industrial Revolution 5.0 surface, cooperation between humans and machine is key to thriving, she added.  “These changes in the kind of work environment will really require us to continue learning. If we want to continuously be relevant in the job market, then we have to learn continuously.” 

The Infoteach Outreach training is the flagship program of PLDT’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. It provides beneficial digital literacy training to our country’s students and teachers.

“We, together with our UPOU partners, are happy to conduct these webinars,” said Katherine Diaz De Rivera, PLDT Community Relations Head.  “The courses were designed to offer more learning opportunities for students, despite pandemic conditions, encouraging them to engage in lifelong learning.” 

Aside from Lifelong Learning, PLDT’s Infoteach Outreach Phase 6 rollout training in May also took up the following topics, namely: Digital Productivity Tools; Online Collaboration Tools; 21st Century Competencies; Effective Communication Skills; Digital Literacy; Responsible Use of Social Media; Global Digital Citizenship; Cyber Security; and Introduction to Sustainable Development Goals. 

Infoteach is part of the broader, long-term program of the PLDT group to support the country’s education sector. It also underscores the company’s commitment to help the Philippines attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), particularly SDG #4: Quality Education as a foundation in improving people’s lives and obtaining sustainable development.

champion mental health advocacy through creative expression

PLDT and its wireless unit, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have just launched Time Capsule Project, a virtual art festival on mental health and wellness under its Better Today program.

Through the virtual festival, the youth is encouraged to express themselves, by submitting entries in the form of drawings, paintings, poems or short stories. The top winners of Better Today’s Time Capsule Project will have the opportunity to receive from PLDT and Smart a matching donation, which they can then give to their chosen mental health organizations and advocacy groups.

The entries for the Time Capsule Project is anchored on four key mental health pillars and narrative namely, Passion and Purpose (which are things that inspire and keep us going); Resilience (things that push us to power through difficulties); Empathy (things that unite us and uplift the spirits of those in most need); and Hope (things that give light amid darkness).

As participants embark on self-reflection and create their own time capsules, they are also encouraged to dedicate matching art and thoughtful pieces for those in need within the larger community. These include the country’s health care workers who brave the frontlines and risk their lives every day in the performance of their duty to the country; vulnerable children who suffer abuse and are deprived of a happy childhood; and fellow Filipinos who struggle through lonely isolation and mental health issues due to the circumstances of the pandemic.

Better Today is PLDT and Smart’s collaborative platform for change making in the digital space. The program emphasizes the companies’ commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), particularly UN SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being. The downloadable link for the tool kit and mechanics can be found in Better Today’s social media platforms. To know more about the Time Capsule Project and the details on how to join the art festival, please follow Better Today PH at (@bettertodayph) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Tuloy Pa Rin Ang Pasko brings hope to Filipinos nationwide

As part of the MVP Group’s Tuloy Pa Rin Ang Pasko (TPRAP) movement, PLDT, Smart and the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) reached out to over 5,000 families and communities nationwide.

PLDT, the country’s largest integrated telco, through its Home business unit, raised around P5M to support families who were severely affected by the typhoons. This support will include Noche Buena Packs for families, as well as connectivity tools for home schooling in the new normal. In partnership with the PSF, PLDT Home reached out to beneficiary families of partner LGUs such as Manila, Pasig, Malabon and Mandaluyong.

PLDT, through Community Relations, also turned over Noche Buena packs to families and communities in Brgy. Anahaw, Labo, Camarines Norte and Brgy. San Vicente, Ogbon, Camarines Sur.

Through the efforts of the PLDT Bicol Customer Service Zone, there were about 500 families who received Noche Buena packs from Brgy. Anahaw, Labo, Camarines Norte and Brgy. San Vicente, Ogbon, Camarines Sur. These were areas severely affected by typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

Moreover, PLDT also turned over 100 facemasks and 100 faceshields each to Municipality of Labo Mayor Joseph V. Ascutia and to Brgy. San Vicente, Ogbon.

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) provided over 1,300 Noche Buena packs to families across the country. These include tricycle drivers in General Santos City; the Jolohanon Women’s Association, which is a Tausug fishing village in Sarangani Province; the Typhoon Pablo victims in 2012 who were relocated to the MVP Village in Baganga, Davao Oriental; various communities in Aloguinsan and Boljoon, Cebu; Surigao City; Zamboanga City; Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City.

Other communities include the women quilt makers in Caohagan Island of the Olango Group of Islands in Lapu-lapu City; women Hablon weavers in Argao, Cebu; and banig weavers in Basey, Samar.

The efforts are done in partnership with Smart’s local sales as well as regional and provincial distributors.

Around 500 families in Agusan that were affected by tropical storm Vicky also received Noche Buena packs. Smart also provided 300 sacks of rice to Dumagat Farmers in Marikina Watershed. Moreover, a sustainability fund under the #BuyLocal campaign and TPRAP movement were also turned over to farmers from Pangasinan.

Smart assisted over 900 families by providing cash-for-work assistance. The cash-for-work program aims provide immediate livelihood opportunities to support household heads.

Meanwhile, PSF provided Noche Buena packs as well as vegetables and fruits to around 3,000 families and communities.

Some of the communities supported by PSF were the Aeta community in Sitio, Villa Maria, Porac, Pampanga, in partnership with NLEX; and families in Brgy. Buli, Muntinlupa, in partnership with Asian Hospital Medical Center.

Other communities include Fr. Al’s Children Foundation, Inc.; Home for the Aged – Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and Other Special Cases (GRACES) where PSF provided the vegetables and fruits for their Christmas dinner. Together with One Meralco Foundation, PSF gave Noche Buena boxes for the service personnel as well as the indigent patients of the East Avenue Medical Center.

Together with Cardinal Santos Medical Center, PSF also reached out to the San Felipe Parish Community in Mandaluyong City; Archdiocese Manila Ministry of Person with Disability (AMMPD); and residents and staff of Lourdes Handicapped Center. PSF also supported the beneficiary communities of Caritas Manila and Radio Veritas.

The Tuloy Pa Rin Ang Pasko movement is an MVP Group-wide initiative where selected communities receive Noche Buena packs from the companies and foundations under the leadership of Manuel V Pangilinan.