‘Yolanda’ scholars graduate and face bright future

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With the graduates. From right, PGA Cars chair Robert Coyiuto Jr. , Ambassador Kricke, Porsche AG manager Torsten Klavs, Don Bosco Technical Institute technical director  Fr. Jose Dindo Vitug, SDB, Rev. Fr. Msngr. Ramon Aguillos, and PTRCA manager Katrin Schulz.

With the graduates. From right, PGA Cars chair Robert Coyiuto Jr.
, Ambassador Kricke, Porsche AG manager Torsten Klavs, Don Bosco Technical Institute technical director
Fr. Jose Dindo Vitug, SDB, Rev. Fr. Msngr. Ramon Aguillos, and PTRCA manager Katrin Schulz.

Twenty-year old Chad Germanes has always been good at math. He dreamed of becoming a civil engineer someday. Fate, however, had other plans.

When Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) struck Eastern Visayas in November 2013, Germanes and his friends were hanging out at the nearby church.

Amid the monstrous winds brought by the tropical storm, they sought refuge at the back of the cathedral.

Away from the threats of shattering church glass windows, they tucked away in fear in safe corners as the merciless storm pummeled to dampen their spirits.

When typhoon Yolanda finally subsided, Germanes and his friends witnessed a different Leyte—it was a a devastated town, but nonetheless still unwilling to surrender.

Their families, luckily, were spared, unlike many others. Their houses, however, suffered similar fates, shattered in thousands of pieces.

In every tragedy, though, there is kindness. For Germanes and 15 other PGA scholars in Leyte, kindness is in the presence of Don Bosco priests who paved their road to recovery.

In the modest town of Brgy. Patoc, Bagami, Leyte, about 200 hopefuls took the entrance exam for various government scholarships offered to typhoon survivors.

More than 60 passed, with 16 successfully eligible to enrol in PGA Cars, Inc.’s prestigious nine-month workshop on Porsche technology.

Porsche saw an opportunity to provide sustainable assistance to Yolanda victims. Through its long-standing scholarship and employment program in the Porsche Training and Recruitment Center Asia (PTRCA), selected survivors were given the means to help themselves and their families.

A brainchild of PGA Cars chair Robert Coyiuto Jr., the PTRCA was initially a reaction to the exodus of local Porsche technicians through the global Porsche network.

After receiving the imprimatur from a board member of Porsche AG, Coyiuto swiftly established the program in 2008, representing the first training instrument in the first facility of its kind in the world outside of Germany.

Since then, in partnership with the Don Bosco Technical Institute (DBTI), the PTRCA has been turning underprivileged Filipino youths into highly skilled “mechatronics,” or elite technical specialists for Porsche vehicles.

After successfully completing the course, the scholars are promised employment, which are often stints at Porsche services centers in developed markets of the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

With a highly competitive income and the opportunity to support their families back home, the program became a rousing success and was expanded under the revised tag PTRCA 2.0, reflecting a widened girth to include sister brands Audi and Volkswagen.

In anticipation of the increased number of trainees, DBTI is constructing a 6,000-square meter training center to house seminar rooms and training workshops.

The German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) is also on board, and promised to certify graduates for employment.

Class valedictorian Chad Germanes shows his respects through the tradional mano gesture before receiving his certificate.

Class valedictorian Chad Germanes shows his respects through the tradional mano gesture before receiving his certificate.

The GPCCI last year conferred the PTRCA with its Innovation Award for the sustainability, transferability, and effectiveness of its “life-changing” program.

In addition to the free enrollment extended by Porsche to the “Yolanda scholars” of PTRCA, Porsche also donated 50,000 euros (approximately P2.6 million) to Don Bosco Mondo Germany toward the building of schools in affected provinces.

Germanes, who eventually became class valedictorian of his PGA batch, recalls his fondest PGA memories: “Nung gumagawa na kami ng maintenance sa mga kotse sa PGA, nakakatuwang malaman na napagkakatiwalaan na nila kami,” Germanes shared.

PGA cars are considered high-end luxury cars, and not a lot of people get the chance to work on premium automotives.

“Na-expose talaga kami

sa German technology at

hands-on experience sa mga kotse nila. Malaking bagay po sa amin iyon.”

While he did not expect to be on top of his class, he gives full credit to his unbridled passion to learn and always ask questions.

He lives by his teacher’s example to “never give up learning because, like any premium technology in the market, knowledge always evolves.”

To date, Germanes awaits news on his deployment to the Middle East. While a little bit anxious about working in a foreign land, he believes that the PGA scholarship is a great way to start a whole new chapter in his post-Yolanda life.

One simple wisdom motivates Germanes that he hopes to share with those who also want to thrive amid adversity: “Huwag po tayong mawalan ng pag-asa. Always think positive, kasi pag pinasukan ng negative, panghihinaan tayo ng loob. Kaya niyo ‘yan. Kaya natin ‘to.”—CONTRIBUTED



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