Students express “Hallyu love” with fan art in Smart design contest

Young Filipinos across the country rode the Korean wave and showed their love for “hallyu” in the “K-reate for a Cause” sustainability design contest, organized by leading mobile provider Smart Communications. The campaign highlights the youth’s passion to create, and their drive to give back to their community. Students from 50 universities hopped on the K phenomenon and submitted fan art that express their passion and purpose.  

“The K-reate for a Cause design contest allows the youth to express their passion through visual art. The initiative also provides an opportunity to help causes that are close to their hearts. Just like their Korean idols, Smart encourages the youth to live life with purpose,” said Jane Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart.

The Korean wave or “hallyu” has gripped the Filipino Gen Z, creating a loyal fan base that follows their every move. The Filipino youth have embraced Korean idols and have supported not only their careers but their passions as well. 

Wynnona Ku didn’t expect to fall in love with Korean music. But after listening to a popular BTS beat, the Tourism major from Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) found herself expanding her playlist to include their songs. She says the diverse sounds she listens to help her in her other passion projects.  

“Music helps me to be productive. The different beats I listen to help me in generating new ideas or content. Music gives us different emotions. It can exude joy or sadness. Music enables us to express our feelings, in my case, through my visual arts,” said Ku.   

Just like how BTS’ tunes have inspired her entry called “Feel the Beat”, the youth leader also acknowledged that music has helped young Filipinos cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Ku recalled that even when the country was placed under varying degrees of restrictions, she saw her fellow Gen Z post dance videos, jam online, and create their own music to express their emotions. 

“The power of music is to inspire, influence, and give positive thoughts to everyone nowadays because of all the negativity and challenges that we are facing,” Ku added.  

Ku is among the 50 young artists whose designs have been chosen by Smart for production. Smart will print winning designs on Php 50,000 worth of merchandise. The winners can then sell these items to raise funds for their chosen beneficiaries. The designs can be printed on water tumblers, tote bags and T-shirts just to name a few. The principal designer also gets to take home a Samsung Galaxy S21, Smart Prepaid 5G SIM, Php 1,000 worth of Smart prepaid load, and a Smart Passion+Purpose mystery box.  

Smart continues to spread the “hallyu” love among its customers. Smart is giving fans who have missed out on the exclusive Smart+BTS Photo Cards a chance to win these limited edition photos through a raffle.    Partnering with Viu, Smart has launched the Smart Giga K-Video packs that allow subscribers to enjoy the best of Korean entertainment through the Viu Premium Experience. With 1 GB of data for K-videos daily, subscribers can watch the latest shows as quickly as eight hours after they were aired in Korea. They also enjoy unlimited downloads and access to all content on Viu without advertisements.

Ateneo gets boost from Smart with an exclusive online store

Ateneo de Manila University has teamed up with Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) to launch the Ateneo Smart Online Store for the Ateneo community as they navigate the new normal in education.  

Together with PLDT’s B2B arm PLDT Enterprise, Smart has set up an e-commerce site exclusively for Ateneo de Manila students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The partnership makes it more convenient for Ateneans across four campuses in Loyola, Salcedo, Makati, and Pasig to browse through and purchase Smart’s connectivity solutions.  

Ateneo de Manila University President Fr. Roberto C Yap SJ is grateful that the university has its own Smart Online Store with products and services tailored to the needs of the Atenean community. 

“We very much appreciate this additional partnership with PLDT and Smart. The Ateneo Smart Online Store is a first among Ateneo schools, and the idea of having Smart Prepaid Services available to the community in an exclusive platform is aligned with the university’s continuous digital transformation.” 

Alfredo S Panlilio, President and CEO of PLDT and Smart, recognized the value of network services and technology in the country’s economic recovery and overall nation-building saying, “PLDT and Smart being the largest, fully integrated telco in the Philippines puts us in a unique position, with entailing responsibilities, to offer a wide range of products and services to our countrymen today, and post-COVID. We will never stop evolving as our vision for the future is one where all Filipinos are digitally empowered.”  

The Ateneo Smart Online Store offers exclusive discounts for Ateneans when they purchase Smart Prepaid load cards and electronic loads. Ateneans can also buy connectivity devices like the Smart Bro Prepaid and PLDT Home WiFi from the customized portal. The platform also offers multiple secure payment options via credit cards and PayMaya, including cash on delivery or COD for added convenience. Smart is also waiving shipping costs for all transactions made via the e-commerce site. As a bonus, Smart is also giving away Smart 5G ready prepaid SIMs to students wishing to experience the fastest 5G network in the Philippines according to Ookla®, the global leader in internet testing and analysis. And soon, Ateneans can avail of Smart’s postpaid offerings, including special deals on handsets.  

“Smart continues to help educators and students adapt to challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. The Ateneo Smart Online Store is an innovative platform that offers the Ateneo community access to Smart products and services tailored for the new normal of learning. These tools ensure that Ateneans are enabled to live smarter as they help build a better world,” said Jane Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart.  

The Ateneo Smart Online Store is also a portal for the Atenean community to earn invitations to special events. The e-commerce site opens up access to limited edition Smart K-inspired premium items. It also links students to useful webinars and training programs for the youth.  

“Smart continues to empower students and educators with our innovative connectivity solutions. We are committed to helping the education sector hurdle the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic with learning tools that allow them to thrive in these trying times because we believe that no learner should be left behind; moreover, they will not be left behind because Smart’s products and services are powered by the Philippines fastest network,” added Melvin Consunji Nubla, Department Head and VP at Smart for Go-To-Market and Subscriber Management.  

 Not only will the Ateneo Smart Online Store provide a convenient gateway for the Ateneans to access Smart products and services, but the platform will also prove helpful for Ateneo scholars and employees enrolled under the Smart Giga Study Program that provides them with a monthly data load.  

 “The new Ateneo Smart Online Store now makes it much easier for us to implement this essential program for e-learning in the new normal,” noted Rodolfo Ang, Vice-President for Administration and Information Systems of Ateneo de Manila. 

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the government imposed restrictions on face-to-face classes and migrated learning to a blended platform utilizing broadcast media and the internet. In response, Smart has been launching innovative products and services to empower students and teachers amid the disruptions brought about by the global health crisis.  

The Smart Giga Study suite of data offerings is ideal for students and teachers in the new normal. With Giga Study, customers get 1GB data every day for study apps like Google Classroom, Meet, Google Search, YouTube, MS Teams, and Office 365, among others. Smart recently gave its Giga packages a boost with Double GIGA that doubles the data for other Giga passion apps.   These innovations to support education amid the global health crisis underscore the commitment of PLDT and Smart 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.

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 www.smart.com.ph.

BETTER ISLAND-HOPPING IN CORDOVA

Smart has donated connectivity devices such as Smart Bro LTE pocket WiFi and 5G SIM cards to the Cordova Boat Owners and Tour Operators, helping revive tourism.

“We find this partnership a new blessing to Cordova. We are happy to experience Smart’s fast connectivity while we are in the middle of the sea. These donations are a big help to open and promote Tourism in our town especially during pandemic,” says Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy.

Smart earlier provided the organization with sweatshirts with QR loading codes and retailer packages to help them with their livelihood amid pandemic.

“Smart has a lot of initiatives to help the communities. Part of our initiatives include reopening the Tourism industry. Rest assured that our support does not stop here, we will always be in full support to Cordova as one of our valued partners,” says Melvin Nubla, Department Head/VP Smart Go-To-Market & Subs Management. These form part of Smart’s continuing support to the organization and to the Municipality of Cordova to help jumpstart their tourism industry, vital source of livelihood of Cordovahanons.

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.

Smart champions Living Smarter for a Better World in new campaign

Over 100 Filipino celebrities and influencers have also joined in, pushing their respective advocacies to spark a conversation with their communities and followers on how to “Live Smarter for a Better World”.

“This campaign is one of the biggest initiatives produced by Smart advocating personal revolutions that inspire collective action,” said Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio.

“Being the country’s largest integrated telecommunications company has put us in the best position to give back to society, through CSR programs that leverage on our expertise, digital technology, and robust network – the fastest in the Philippines,” he said.

“Going big doesn’t happen overnight. This is a big effort by the company to signify our work in improving customer experience.  We have made a lot of investments to ensure that our service is world-class, and keep a strong focus on our north star, which is customer-centricity,” Panlilio added.

Jane J. Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart, emphasized how big and small efforts can contribute to making a better world, highlighting the importance of Smart’s network and services in keeping Filipinos connected and empowered. “This is the driving force that has kept us going. It has always been in our DNA to serve and improve the lives of Filipino people—not just our customers,” she said.

Addressing questions from media, Lloyd Manaloto, Smart FVP for Corporate Marketing and Strategy, said the campaign’s message is that everyone can be a hero. “It’s a very powerful story–it’s all about personal revolutions and advocacies. When an individual pursues their advocacy and inspires other people to also follow, it becomes a collective. It becomes more powerful,” he said. “In that sense, everyone can become a hero.”

Smart Communities

Darwin F. Flores, Head for Community Partnerships at Smart, underscored Smart’s continuous mission of enabling communities using technology, especially in the areas of education and agriculture, which have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Flores highlighted two of Smart’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, School-in-a-Bag and Buy Local campaign, which are solutions aimed at bridging the digital divide.

“School-in-a-Bag and Buy Local are just examples of how simple solutions can make a difference in the world. And we can do this together, forged by our connections, while also pursuing independent initiatives that help make our homes, our community, our country, and the world a better place to live in for us and for the future generations,” Flores said.

Flores also highlighted Smart’s efforts in helping students continue learning despite the challenges of the pandemic. “We are working very closely with the Department of Education to ensure quality learning continues despite a distance learning environment. Last year, we conducted an online forum to over 400,000 teachers across the country, on a disaster-resilient, low-cost yet effective teaching strategy that promotes independent learning. It is our contribution towards ensuring that No Learner Gets Left Behind during this crisis,” Flores said.

Over 75,000 student-beneficiaries

The School-in-a-Bag is designed to provide access to technology, connectivity, content, and a disaster-resilient pedagogy even for schools in remote areas without electricity. Each water-resistant backpack carries a laptop and pocket WiFi for the teacher and 10-20 tablets for the students, all pre-loaded with interactive, multimedia content accessible even if offline.  

Through various initiatives implemented with PLDT and with the support of external organizations, Smart deployed 86 School-in-a-Bag packages in 2020 alone. Since its launch in 2016, close to 300 bags have been deployed, benefiting over 75,000 students and more than 2,500 teachers in last-mile communities. True to the company’s commitment to helping the Philippines attain the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with SDG #4: Quality Education as a key area, education continues to be the flagship CSR program throughout the PLDT group, with a strong emphasis on digital literacy.

Championing Corporate ‘RICE’ponsibility, the “Buy Local, Buy Smart” initiative enjoins employees of PLDT, Smart, and its sister companies to buy their produce directly from local farming communities. By providing a sure and direct market for their produce, Smart is helping small-scale farmers earn more. Through the program, a sustainability fund for farmers is also established. For every purchase of rice from store.cropital.com, up to Php100 goes to funding their next planting cycle. 

Since launching the online initiative in November 2020, 200 farmers have been supported with sales of more than Php 1.2 million from 27 tons of rice orders. The program is Smart’s contribution to Sustainable Development Goal #1 of No Poverty, especially for the marginalized farming communities.

Smart’s other initiatives also include building a culture of disaster resilience among communities with its #SafePH campaign, enhancing tourism through digital innovation with its Digital Tourism efforts, and preserving nature through mobile and communications technologies with its various environmental protection programs.

Local celebs for a #BetterWorld

Among the celebrities to push their advocacies under the #BetterWorld campaign is TV personality and host Luis Manzano, who shares how his passion for the ocean has led him to work with WWF-Philippines to help spread awareness about trash in the sea. “Let’s keep garbage away from the beautiful waters. What are you prepared to do to make the world better?” he says.

“We all have the opportunity to create positive change in our community. We have to stick with what we love doing and encourage people to do the same,” says Januarius Paglinawan, whose love for football spawned the Agriko Youth Football Club, a football clinic for youth in the agricultural town of Dumingag in Zamboanga del Sur. Along with his siblings, Paglinawan is also passionate about helping develop local talent. “We started a movement to help enhance local talent and develop their skills to be able to reach a global platform making it adaptable to our ever-growing environment.”

Meanwhile, musician Nina Juan is using her platform to advocate for animal welfare and sustainable living. “There are so many ways to show your love and respect for animals, and adopting is one of them! Rather than shopping in stores that promote breeding and exploiting innocent animals, make a choice and adopt or take in a stray,” she says. “Whether it be eating less meat, buying sustainable products, or adopting a stray, we all have a choice to make this world a better place. Are you ready to take up that challenge?”

For more information, visit http://betterworld.smart/

University students prepare for life with Smart University Giga Careers

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has launched the Smart University Giga Careers program, in collaboration with its partner academic institutions in the Visayas and Mindanao to help the students after they graduate.  

The series of webinars feature successful alumni who share their experiences to inspire college students and help them prepare for their careers after graduation.

“We at Smart recognize the value of pursuing education amid our challenging times. We are glad to be able to partner with schools and universities across the country to assist students in their distance learning needs. We look forward to reach and help even more students so that no one gets left behind,” said Melvin Nubla, VP and Head, Go-to-market and Subs Management at Smart.

Smart kicked off the series in the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU), where more than a thousand students streamed the talk live via the ADZU Student and Leadership Organization Facebook page.

“On behalf of AdZU, we thank you for choosing us to be your partner in the different endeavors like Smart University Giga Careers and Smart Student Circle. We hope to partner with you for the betterment of our students,” said Sitti Fatima Paula T. Chua, AVP for Higher Education for Student Leadership and Organizations. “Your programs provide opportunities to students who need support, especially in these trying times,” she added.

Like AdZU, students from the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod in Bacolod City, Holy Trinity College in General Santos City, and Cebu Normal University in Cebu City have also taken part in the online program.

University of St. La Salle-Office of Student Affairs Dean Dr. Rowela Chiu also expressed their appreciation for Smart for the meaningful collaboration. “The disruption has opened opportunities for all of us to collaborate remotely through technology and pushed us to look for ways to rise above the challenge. This partnership with Smart will help our students navigate in the new normal. We are currently into the storm and we thank our partners who have helped us to continue the Lasallian mission,” she said.

Apart from webinars, the Giga Careers virtual event also engages various student organizations of their university partners through fun and exciting games. Winners can receive prizes which they can use to purchase prepaid phone kits, tablets, Smart LTE pocket WiFi devices, or load to enable them to go online by connecting to Smart, the Philippines’ fastest LTE network. This is part of a broader program of the country’s largest integrated telco PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart to ensure that no learner is left behind.

Smart Omega to represent PH in Mobile Legends World Championships

Happening on January 18 to 24, 2021, the M2 World Championships will be the first in-person competition for Mobile Legends since the pandemic began.

Professional teams from Japan, Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Russia, and the Philippines will battle it out in the biggest ML competition in the world.

Aside from Smart Omega, Bren Esports will also represent the Philippines. Both teams are members of the Smart-backed Philippine Esports Organization (PESO), the official National Sports Association that govern and develop esports in the country.

Esports athletes and management teams who will participate in the tournament will follow strict public health protocols during the games, and no live audience will be allowed in the venue to ensure the safety of the participants.

“There are over 43 million gamers in the Philippines’ growing esports industry. This global competition would mean a lot to our mobile esports community and we could not be prouder to support our very own Smart Omega team as they represent our flag in the world stage,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, President and Chief Executive Officer at Smart.

“Our support for Filipino esports athletes through the years is rooted in our firm belief that our players have the skills, talent, and dedication to be at par with the world’s best players. We hope that Smart Omega can be an inspiration to Filipino casual players and fans to help them realize and pursue their passion for esports,” says Jane J. Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart.

Local champs, world-class athletes

Smart Omega is composed of six (6) professional Filipino Mobile Legends athletes, namely Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa, Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon, Salic “Hadji” Imam, Earin John “Heath” Esperana, Jankurt Russel “Kurttzy” Matira, and Adrian “Toshi” Bacallo.

The young and talented pro team already has several awards under its belt, including multiple championships and top awards for The Nationals, Just ML competition, Juicy Legends Pro Division, and top awards during various MPL-PH Series.

Two of the players have also represented the country in several global tournaments. Kenji and Haze both won gold for the Philippines under the Smart-powered Team Sibol during the debut of the multi-platform esports category in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Haze also has the Challenger Summit Singapore Champion and the 2018 Southeast Asia Cyber Arena (SEACA) titles on his resume, among others.

Powering esports

Smart has always been active in the promotion of esports in the Philippines. Aside from supporting Smart Omega, the telco company has also mounted multiple Mobile Legends competitions nationwide. This massive support for esports has been made possible by PLDT and Smart’s integrated network. 

In 2020, PLDT and Smart further accelerated the rollout of their fixed and wireless networks to deliver better customer service. PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country, is now at more than 422,000 kilometers as of November. This fiber infrastructure supports Smart’s mobile networks, which now cover 96% of the population and are present in 95% of cities and municipalities.

As of November, Smart has also increased the number of its base stations to over 58,000, while also rolling out additional 5G base stations as it accelerates its 5G commercial services nationwide.  

In July, the telco unveiled the nation’s first-ever 5G-powered gaming hub and hosted the first mobile phone vs PC crossplay exhibition match via cloud gaming.

The mobile telco firm also teamed up with PESO and ESNAP to support the Philippine team to the very first Pacific Pro-Am NBA 2K20 Tournament, soon after their successful stint at the FIBA Esports Open.

More importantly, Smart also poured its support for Filipino esports athletes during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

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.