SM continues to reach out to communities affected by the recent spate of typhoons that hit the country over the past month.
SM Supermalls and SM Foundation, through its Operation Tulong Express (OPTE) program, provided immediate relief assistance to residents of Cagayan, Isabela and other parts of Luzon who were affected by Typhoon Ulysses. Apart from the truckloads of drinking water and hot meals, SM also gave out packs of rice, canned goods and noodles.
A total of 9,000 relief packs were meanwhile distributed to San Mateo, Rizal and Marikina. SM Supermalls president Steven Tan joined philanthropist and news celebrity Karen Davila at Malanday Elementary School in Marikina City to distribute relief packs, children’s inner wear and cleaning kits to some 500 families affected by the typhoon.
In the Bicol Region, over 15,000 families were assisted through the distribution of relief packs to Naga, Legazpi and Albay.
“At SM, we will continue to reach out to as many communities as we can and help them bounce back,” Tan said. “We take immediate action every time there is a calamity. Also, we make sure that our employees and surrounding communities are safe and get the help that they need including shelter. As you know, Mr. Hans Sy has always been an advocate of disaster resilience through the National Resilience Council and ARISE, a group of private sector companies with the same goals.”
Tan explained that SM has long been into disaster prevention and preparedness. The water catchment basins built in SM Masinag and in some 20 SM malls in low-lying areas such as Cabanatuan, Baguio and San Mateo are prime examples. These basins, which are the size of four to eight Olympic-sized swimming pools, help keep floods down in the communities by absorbing rainwater during typhoons. The water is released after the rains have stopped and is used for cleaning and watering of plants. SM Marikina meanwhile is a mall built on stilts, to allow flood water from the Marikina River to flow through the basement and prevent damages to lower structures.
According to Tan, SM’s Disaster Resilience philosophy starts with prevention and continues with preparation, immediate response and recovery efforts. “We track the typhoons’ path and are ready to serve stranded customers through waived overnight parking for their vehicles and shelter, WiFi and phone charging stations as well as hot coffee and light snacks for those who cannot make it home or need higher ground.”
In the words of Hans Sy, “The responsibility of disaster resilience does not lie with the government alone. It is a concern for everyone. SM invests 10 percent of its mall capital expenditures towards DRR research and construction.”
In the face of disaster, the spirit of hope continues as SM malls launched their Christmas centerpieces in the first week of November, amid strict safety protocols over and above those directed by the government. These include wearing of face shields and masks, taking of temperature prior to entry, contact tracing and placing disinfecting stations at entrances are stringently implemented in all 74 SM malls nationwide.
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