While high school may be one of the best chapters in life for most young adults, the prospects of the real world beyond the four corners of the classroom may be daunting and challenging. Having no idea what to do after graduation is an occurrence that is all too familiar among teenagers, as Mary Joy Mendez Saturno could attest to.
As one of the top graduating students of Manito National High School (MNHS) in Bicol, Joy seemed to have it all together. While academics were demanding, the nurturing environment of the small community she grew up in provided her comfort and convenience. Thus, it actually worried her what life would be like after high school, or if she would go on to college at all because she knew that a completely different world lay beyond her hometown.
One day, a talk from an employee of Energy Development Corporation (EDC), one of the biggest private companies in the Bicol region with its geothermal power plant, inspired her to take a chance at a program that guides deserving public school students to take admission testing and potentially receive a scholarship to prestigious state institutions such as the University of the Philippines (UP).
“Noong una, sobrang alinlangan pa. Pero nagkaroon kami ng meeting at pinakita ng EDC ang magandang oportunidad [At first I was hesitant but EDC presented amazing opportunities that they could offer to us],” said Joy. For once, she saw the vast potential that she didn’t know she had.
Developing strength and fortitude
While Joy thought nothing much of it at that time, joining EDC’s SIKAT program (then called CAREERS) turned out to be one of the most defining moments of her entire life. The program not only provided academic guidance and financial support but holistic life management skills as well. These skills came very usefully when she ended up getting accepted at UP Los Baños (UPLB) under Chemical Engineering.
Admittedly, it was not her first choice of campus as well as course, that’s why she found herself not exactly enthusiastic about the development. It would entail her to be far away from her family and her hometown. With the right encouragement from her SIKAT mentors and EDC benefactors, she took the challenge head-on and grabbed the opportunity. After all, it gave her the distinction of becoming one of the first alumni from her high school to be accepted into the state university.
Eventually, she adjusted and found the whole experience enriching. “Pagdating ko sa UPLB, kasama ko na ang mga nakasabay ko sa UPCAT review. Kahit na galing sila sa ibang school, sila na ang naging family ko [When I started school, I was with the other students that took the UPCAT review with me. Even though they’re from other schools, they have become my family],” she said.
Towards a regenerative future
As part of the Lopez Group, EDC adheres to a collective mission of forging collaborative pathways for a regenerative and decarbonized future. Regenerative development means elevating the lives of all its stakeholders, and with its geothermal operations, it definitely impacts the lives of Filipinos in a positive manner through clean, stable, and renewable energy.
Further, with its social investment programs such as SIKAT, its communities of operations are elevated not only through opportunities afforded by quality education but also through a more socially aware mindset. “Tumatak sa akin ang concept na ‘pay it forward’ na natutunan ko sa mga workshop sa EDC [I focused on the concept of paying it forward, which is something I learned from EDC’s workshops],” revealed Joy.
As such, every year since she first joined SIKAT, Joy has been organizing an annual Christmas activity in her hometown called The Gift of Joy Project. She and her volunteers provide hundreds of children and teenagers with meals, gifts, and an opportunity to come together as a community. Most importantly, she passes on her learnings about the importance of taking care of the environment. From observing proper hygiene to the 3 “Rs” of recycling—reduce, reuse, recycle—Joy does her own small part in instilling regenerative discipline to kids in her province.
A lifelong mission
Today, Joy is working as a laboratory analyst for the provincial office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), with a side hustle of taho business. She plans to intertwine her academic accomplishment and her passion for business by taking on post-graduate studies in business administration alongside her dream of putting up a taho manufacturing plant.
Ultimately, she hopes to uplift the communities she cares about and the environment she wants to help preserve. Without her support systems to help steer her trajectory in life, she wouldn’t have been able to see her potential and open a world of possibilities. Although she has yet to reach her end goal, she is confident that one way or the other, she will.
The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is a pioneer in generating 100% clean, renewable, and reliable power as an electricity supplier in the Philippines for over 40 years. With power plants all over Visayas and Mindanao, the company is one of the biggest producers of geothermal energy in Asia and is expanding its reach in the international market, allowing it to offer customers affordable energy rates. EDC also strives to provide the best customer service it can to all its clients by having helpful salespeople and easy to understand contracts. Because of all of this, it is poised to become the premier supplier of electricity for the Philippines’ Green Energy Option Program. EDC takes its mission as a renewable energy provider seriously and goes beyond sustainability by investing in programs that enhance the environment and empower its partner communities, thereby fostering regenerative development. The company has also been working toward being carbon-neutral by improving its energy efficiency, as well as implementing various greening projects to ensure that its mission to provide future generations with a better life remains intact.