ON OUR way to down town Davao City yesterday we decided to drop by the Boys Town compound in Maa hoping we could see our old acquaintance, socio-civic leader Salvador “Bading” Angala who is President of the welfare foundation for errant and abandoned young boys.
Our concept of the Boys Town compound was still that of a place where old dilapidated quarters of the residents were in place. But on our way to the facility which is several meters away from the main road we met some familiar faces who happened to also recognize us because we used to frequent the Boys Town while we were still working with Davao Light and Power Co. We slowed down and asked if Mr. Angala was around and they answered that he was not. So we decided to go back out onto the main road. Unfortunately we cannot maneuver back because the road is so small. So we had to proceed hoping to find space for us to make a U-turn. But we had to reach the gate of the compound before we could find one. And we were amazed at what we saw. Inside the fenced compound were new and refurbished buildings painted brightly. The old basketball court for the boys that was bare during our time representing our boss at Davao Light in meetings of directors is already well-furnished and lively looking. It is painted in a way that entices even the non-athlete ward to go out and play.
I thought that the Boys Town could have received some substantial support or commitment to provide a better facility from some generous individuals or corporations who have the heart for disadvantaged young boys.
So we inquired from those wards working near the perimeter of the compound, who did all those changes in the Boys Town. We were told rather vaguely that it was through the efforts of Mr. Angala who reportedly approached some influential people for him to connect to possible benefactors. The guy we asked also added that from what he learned the new buildings and the refurbishments were funded not by a new benefactor of the Boys Town but by an old one who seems to be tireless in supporting the welfare organization.
By this time we were reminded that if it was a continuing benefactor then it could be the conglomerate of the Lorenzo family, or the son-in-law of the late Non Noning Lizada, the NCCC group. Or, it could be the Aboitiz Group that we once worked where we had the opportunity to get involved in the affairs of the Boys Town, our former boss Mr. Bobby Orig, being a director of the foundation. So we called a friend and former colleague to inquire. From our friend, Fermin Edillon who took over our position at Davao Light gave us a clear picture. Yes, we were correct in thinking that the benefactor who caused the total face-lifting of the Boys Town compound is indeed a long-time supporter of Boys Town – the Aboitiz Group now headed by Sabin Aboitiz.
According to our friend, the original plan of face-lifting the Boys Town was not that grandiose. But eventually, because of the knowledge by the Aboitiz management that the Foundation was initiated by the late mother of President Rodrigo Duterte and from the very beginning one of its units, Davao Light, was already involved in its operation, the Cebu-based conglomerate decided to make the facilities and quarters inside the compound more livable and conducive to making the errant boys go back to being useful members of society.
Of course with our involvement in the Boys Town activities starting from the time of Nong Cholong Lorenzo until the early years of Bading Angala’s term as President, we came to know how the Boys Town had evolved and who the people who labored hard for its existence, as well as the companies that provided assistance for its continued existence.
Its concept was first brought to the open during the time of tough yet civic-minded police chief of Davao Benito Solis. He was confronted then with the problem of juvenile delinquency. Every night they were hauling to police precincts a good number of young boys for various violations against the law. Since these truant boys cannot just be mixed with hardened criminals, the late police chief brought the problem to the late Nanay Soling, wife the late Davao Governor Vicente Duterte. That was when brainstorming came about and civic minded citizens and companies were called upon to pitch in their ideas of how a Boys Town or similar organization can be organized and made sustainable.
If only to deviate from a popular saying, many were called, but only a handful responded. And there was no option to make a choice since there hardly a number to choose from as to who would be made to help. One of those who immediately responded to the call of Nanay Soling and the late former police chief who by then was already represented by his wife, Dr. Lourdes Solis, was the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light which was then headed by Mr. Ernesto R. Aboitiz. The support was not just financial but moral as well as some needed services from time to time.
The Aboitiz support was carried on by those who succeeded the late Ernesto. His cousin Roberto “Bobby” Aboitiz also provided financial annual assistance through Davao Light. Alfonso Ybanez Aboitiz, Ernesto’s son, kept the support torch burning which was later passed on to Jimmy, Al’s younger brother who succeeded him when he died at an early age. All these years the Aboitiz assistance was provided by some of its companies more specifically Davao Light but coursed through its social development arm, the Aboitiz Foundation.
Now comes this big leap for the Aboitiz support to the Boys Town, It is totally changing the landscape of the facility that many ascribe as more of a rehabilitation center to those young boys with brushes with the law. Today it looks like an a-1 residential and trade learning facility worth other street roaming and parent-abandoned young boys’ envy.
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