Col. Alex Escano
MFI’s visionary continues advocacy
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Alejandro ‘Alex’ Teves Escano is very much known for his passion and devotion of helping those in need, especially the less privileged. A strong proponent of quality and productivity, he was once president and now an advisory council member of the Philippine Quality and Productivity Movement (PQPM).
He went to military schooling with the General Staff & Command (GSC) and was later appointed by the late Pres. Corazon Aquino as a reserve officer with the rank of Colonel PAF on Feb. 14, 1991. Col. Alex is also the founding chairman, and still the incumbent chairman, of the Pambansang Kalipunan ng Laang Lakas ng Pilipinas (PAGKLAKAS), an organization of all ten million armed forces reservists in the country.
Col. Alex now sits as vice-chairman for external affairs of the Meralco Foundation Inc. where he used to be president for fifteen terms. It was during his tenure when MFI was chosen as ‘a model center of excellence in the Philippines’ by the ASEAN economic ministers from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Japan Economic and Industrial Corp. Committee. It was also under his time in office when MFI was bestowed by TESDA the Kabalikat Award and Angat Kabalikat distinction for the institution’s unselfish contributions to the country’s human resource.
“Poverty has always been my immediate, medium-term, and long term goals. Each year, we welcome the top ten students from the government high schools. We usually get more than 3,000 applicants but we sift through this number. Only those from households of five with an annual income Php100,000 are qualified to fill the allotted 200 slots.
“Those who can’t be scholars find sponsors. Like the Bicol association of concerned parents who send six scholars every year and who do attend the commencement exercises. Or the government officials of Quezon Province who even rent a house nearby for their sponsored students. “
MFI is now known as the MFI Technological Institute (MFI-TI). Since its inception, the school has been offering post-secondary non-degree education in the technological areas of information technology, applied electrical and electronics courses, tool & die, as well as instrumentation under the Industrial Technician Program (ITP) for more than a quarter of a century now.
“I served in the capacity as school president for fifteen years, re-elected every consecutive year because the term of office is just one year. Students who complete the 2-year programs only need an additional six months to a year of college work to earn a degree in our affiliate schools as all of our curricula are accredited.”
Aiming to produce the next generation of skilled members of the burgeoning proletariat, MFI-TI launched innovative programs to develop the knowledge and attitude of the youth with relevant courses. Anchored on TESDA-accredited programs in a number of fields, two-year diploma courses are offered that further lead to a bachelor’s degree.
“We implement the training mandate of TESDA. We train the trainers for multiplier effect. This is where other technical schools send their trainees. MFI-TI is a foundation, an NGO. People think we are owned by Meralco but we are not.”
Its ITP has also expanded to include 2-year programs under the dual training system wherein one year of school training is matched with a year for the industries falling under the specialized areas of automotive and motorcycle technology, industrial mecha-tronics, refrigeration and air-conditioning technology, network administration and systems development.
Each course is designed to meet the skills demand of the industry. And because ITP graduates are equipped with both technical skills and positive work values, eighty per centum of its students are employed by the time they have graduated.
“MFI-TI has a farm school in Jalajala, Rizal. We also have a 150-hectare farm school in Bais City. Our other satellite campuses are located in the cities of Bacolod, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga.”
In partnership with selected colleges and universities in Rizal, Palawan, and Negros provinces, diploma programs in entrepreneurship focus on farm business management, eco-farm tourism development and sustainable agriculture. Students with these courses live in farm campuses and are immersed in farm business ventures as a third of their time spent on the courses is for lecture and laboratory exercises while the remaining two-thirds is hands-on time; so students get the opportunity and experience to be mentored by successful agri-preneurs.
“Pres. Aquino has signed last April 2014 the law mandating all municipalities to put up their own agricultural schools to harness local food production. My only regret is on the LGU appointees. These are people who don’t know anything about farming or its management. They were simply taken from rank and file positions of the municipal roster to fill the post. This move defeats the very purpose why the school was put up in the first place. Politics destroy agriculture. There must be stringent guidelines on this matter,” lamented the decorated philanthropist.
Col. Alex has also been helping the cultural minorities of the south for several years and has been conferred with the title Datu Dalanpanan by the Higa-on indigenous cultural communities as certified by the National Commission on Indigenous People.
“To my knowledge, I’m the only one given this accolade. The conferment has to be given through a unanimous vote of all the tribal chieftains, in much the same manner as they do in the Malaysian governance protocol. “
Showing love and respect to his forebears, Col. Alex created the Fundacion Escano Incorporada that holds the family reunion once in every three years. Married to Norma J. Rosada, the union is blessed with four children: Alejandro Jr., Bettina, Carmen, and the late Daniel.
“My mother, Josefa Teves, was a papal awardee. Our family put up the Redemptorist Church in Dumaguete City as well as the Saint Joseph Seminary and the Carmelite nunnery. Seeing her generosity while growing up, I guess it was natural for me and my siblings, the late Ramon Jr. and Mariant, to lead a life of philanthropy.
“I built the school edifice of the Antonia Baena Teves Elementary School because the area where it was erected was so far away from the school campus and the children of the place were so far removed from the educational system. Fortunately, the DepEd took over the reins of the school.
“Here in MFI-TI, 4,000 students coming from 126 technical courses as well as skills training programs graduate each year from the main campus alone. We have twelve external campuses so the number is much bigger. Sixty per cent of our employees are our graduates. Our laboratory training is better than most universities. We are at the top of the line, so to speak. To date, we have sixty industry partners, multinationals at that, and they think highly of MTI. Training happens in their respective companies. We are ISO-certified in training and management. In fact, the embassies of Japan and Canada will not issue a workers visa if the applicant is without our certification. We hone the productivity of the Filipino youth. It is just unfortunate that the number of our graduates is limited. After all, what we do is enrich young minds and transform lives,” Col. Alex said in closing.
For more information on the courses offered at MFI-TI, simply log-on to the school’s Web site, www.mfi.org.ph.