Four AboitizPower scholars share their inspiring stories of how AP helped them achieve their dreams

December 12, 2023

Four AboitizPower scholars share their inspiring stories of how AP helped them achieve their dreams
"Former AboitizPower scholars and now APRI employees (L-R) Jarren De Guzman, Diane Pitallano, and John Bernie Veluz pose in front of the Cleanergy Center found inside the Mak-Ban Geothermal Power Plant, which serves as an educational facility focused on renewable energy education through audiovisual presentations, interactive displays, and a tour of a working geothermal power plant."

The power of a proper education is all-encompassing in that it doesn’t only change the life of the individual but also those of the family, the community, and, in a wider sense, the nation. This is the reason why one of the advocacies of the Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower), through its renewable energy arm AP Renewables Inc. (APRI), is extending its generosity to worthy students.

Through the years, AboitizPower has been providing deserving students a chance to become competent professionals via a scholarship program. Then, once these scholars graduate, they are given another opportunity by APRI to have a career in the renewable energy sector. These scholars can seamlessly transition from the classroom to the workforce of the dynamic industry with APRI’s help

This scholarship and employment program is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, or ensuring quality education, and SDG 8, or providing decent work that contributes to economic growth.

“In supplementing the UN’s SDG, we ensure that we provide financial assistance and scholarships so that deserving students can have a quality education. We also continuously work with our partners to build and improve learning facilities, provide advanced training programs for our assisted teachers, and conduct in-school feeding programs," said APRI Vice President for Corporate Services Leonardo L. Robel.

Four AboitizPower scholars who have successfully integrated themselves into APRI’s workforce share their stories. These are the Pitallano siblings, Diane and Edward, who serve as APRI’s Brand & Corporate Communication Specialist and Reliability & Central Maintenance Specialist, respectively. There is also Engr. Jarren De Guzman, an Outage Review & Evaluation Engineer, and Engr. John Bernie Veluz, PME who works as the Project Execution Supervisor and handles the Operations Division & Engineering Department, playing a pivotal role in the Tiwi Binary Power Plant project.

Their success stories begin with the spark of opportunity – a scholarship that recognized their potential – all the way to finding their purpose in advancing the future of renewable energy.

The Pitallano siblings: a dynamic duo

Hailing from Brgy. Tiwi, Albay, Diane Pitallano, 23, and Edward Pitallano, 25, form a dynamic duo of APRI scholars turned team members. Diane oversees media relations, monitors brand policies and guidelines, and manages internal and external communications with stakeholders. Meanwhile, Edward handles preventive and corrective maintenance activities for auxiliary equipment related to mechanical aspects.

Their journey into the scholarship program began with their father, a former personal driver for APRI executives. The connection opened the door for Diane, Edward, and their younger brother to benefit from the scholarship program.

"My father was a driver for a contractor of APRI. One of the APRI employees informed my father that they were looking for students in need of a scholarship. So, as I was about to go to college, my father encouraged me to apply. My brother and sister also became APRI scholars when they studied in high school. In my case, there were only five slots for the scholarship, and fortunately, I was included," Edward shared.

Both Diane and Edward credit the scholarship for instilling in them a sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic.

"[The scholarship] pushed me to be a hardworking student, aiming to help my parents with financing school and maintaining consistent grades to prove to APRI that I truly deserve the scholarship," Edward said.

"During my studies, I made sure to give my best with utmost integrity. I made sure I responsibly completed all the requirements asked by our professors,” Diane added.

Their scholarship experience is significantly shaping their current careers. For Diane, the relative financial stability and personal responsibility that comes with being a scholar honed her journalistic and communication skills, which now proves to be very valuable in her present role. Edward, on the other hand, credits the program — from scholarship to employment — for helping him focus on understanding the power generation system and the correct process of maintenance activities.

Now working professionals, both Diane and Edward contribute to their younger brother's college expenses and assist in their family's daily needs.

Beyond their personal achievements, the Pitallano siblings actively contribute to their community as well. Whether through educational initiatives, community projects, or helping ensure the stability of the power plant, they are inspiring the next generation of scholars.

"Through my job, I contribute to the community by educating students and the general public about renewable energy whenever they visit APRI facilities and the Cleanergy Center. This way, I help in educating our visitors, especially the youth," shared Diane.

The disciplined life of Jarren De Guzman

Jarren De Guzman, a 26-year-old native of Calauan, Laguna, currently serves as an Outage Review & Evaluation Engineer at APRI.

Graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from Laguna State Polytechnic University in 2018, Jarren plays a pivotal role in scheduling and coordinating a wide range of preventive, repair, and emergency maintenance activities for power trains and auxiliaries in geothermal facilities. His responsibilities also extend to monitoring and reporting progress, deviations, issues, and concerns during major and minor inspections, as well as emergency outages.

With a scholarship from APRI, he pursued his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer.

"My journey started when the APRI Scholarship team visited our school (Dayap National High School) and conducted an initial written examination for all graduating students. Out of more than 700 students, only one person passed the exam, and I am grateful that it was me,” he said.

Jarren underscored the principle of discipline during his time as a scholar, studying to achieve his dreams and become a mechanical engineer.

"One thing that I learned as an APRI scholar is discipline. We had to maintain our grades to comply with the cut-off general weighted average or GWA each semester. Through this, I learned to be disciplined. I needed to set goals for specific subjects to attain the required grade,” he said.

During his time as a scholar, Jarren experienced the relief of not having to worry about the financial aspects of his education. APRI covered his tuition fees, allowances, and even the expenses related to his board exams like review center fees. This allowed him to exercise full focus on his studies.

With a heart full of gratitude, Jarren consistently shares APRI’s scholarship announcements, encouraging high-achieving students, especially those in need, to apply for the program. He wants others to experience the transformative impact of the privilege that comes with being an AboitizPower scholar.

"When I hear the name Aboitiz, I can't help but smile and feel grateful. There is a special place reserved in my heart for it. I am honored and blessed to be one of the students who received help from this scholarship program,” Jarren reflected. “Wherever I may be assigned, either within the Aboitiz Group or outside the company, I will always be proud to call myself an AboitizPower scholar. Thank you, APRI! You truly helped me have 'A Better Future.'"

The inspiring success of John Bernie Veluz

Currently residing in Santo Tomas City, Batangas, John Bernie Veluz, 32, is employed at APRI under the Operations Division & Engineering Department. He is responsible for overseeing the implementation of all engineering and technical disciplines for geothermal projects.

As an Aboitiz scholar, Bernie embarked on his scholarship journey in 2009. Therma Luzon Inc. (TLI) conducted a qualification examination and screening at Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) Lucban, Quezon, where he was one of the seven passers.

Years later, he was among the first batch of graduates of TLI scholars.

Now as a senior member of APRI, Bernie serves as a role model, sharing wisdom gained through years of experience. He emphasized how perseverance — a value instilled during his scholarship — has been crucial in driving him to continuously reach his goals and improve his skills and performance.

In fulfilling the knowledge and specialized skills acquired during his college days, Bernie cites the practical experiences he gained in handling various power generation technologies, both thermal and renewable energy.

Reflecting on his journey, Bernie acknowledges that the scholarship provided him the freedom he now enjoys. "Receiving a scholarship has paved the way for me to be myself, have a career I am proud of, help people in their time of need, and support my family. The scholarship pushed me to work even harder after the board examination."

"Life has obstacles, but life also has opportunities. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with various responsibilities and obligations. When frustrated by these moments, don't give up,” he added. “Remember that you are doing this to achieve your dream, so push through. Fight for what you deserve!"

These scholars-turned-professionals, through their passion and knowledge, are proving that investing in education is an investment in a brighter, cleaner, and more sustainable tomorrow.

As they continue to thrive in their careers, their milestones serve as beacons of inspiration for other aspiring students. Their journey from scholarship recipients to accomplished professionals highlights the transformative power of education and the immense potential within each student dedicated to a greater cause.

This article was written by Rodmill G. Lopez for Manila Bulletin and was released on December 7, 2023.

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