SOCIETY, CULTURE & TOURISM

Filipino-Canadian student Chris Mills organizes book donations to Philippine public schools

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Chris Mills grew up in the Philippines with his Filipino mother. When he went to Canada for university, he was amazed by the high-quality text books available there.

The Filipino-Canadian student made it a goal to get such books to public schools in the Philippines and have a big impact on the lives of students and teachers. To do this, he spoke to many people in his Canadian school to get his books-for-the-Philippines project off the ground.

But it was not easy to accomplish at first. Mills said, “I think everyone thought I was just a kid and couldn’t pull it off.”

Everything changed when Russell Turner, a key professor, found out about the project and offered his support. He is a well-liked professor in two higher learning schools namely Trent University and Fleming College in the city of Peterborough just outside Toronto in central Canada.

With Turner’s guidance, Mills went office to office with his friends in both schools selling his plan. Students, professors and college administrators all joined in and started collecting books and soon, an entire community of people worked together for the project.

Many of the books were written by the world’s leading experts in their fields.  Typically, these textbooks cost Canadian students 5,000-15,000 pesos a piece.

Mills said he was “moved by how much Canadians really want to help Filipinos.” So many books were donated that soon the problem he faced was how to collect and store the hundreds and later thousands of heavy books.

Gladly, his pals from his fraternity Tau Kappa Epilson jumped to help. The boys stretched their meager student finances to the limit delivering half-a-ton or so of books to other cities on weekends and in-between classes.

The boys “almost gave up drinking beer and chasing girls because we got so broke,” Mills shared. On one delivery trip, he made sure to bring his Canadian friends to the new Jollibee in Toronto and experience some Filipino culture.

The next problem the students faced almost stopped everything. When they found out the cost to ship the large load to the Philippines, it was almost killed the project.

But fortunately, Philippine courier LBC came to the rescue offering to ship the entire load for free. The most recent shipment of more than 1,700 books arrived recently with an estimated retail value of 8 million pesos.

Most of the shipment in 2018 was sent to Bulacan State University (BSU) in Malolos, Bulacan, Philippines, which is one of the country’s largest state universities outside of Metro Manila with 25,000 students. On hand to receive the shipment was Malolos vice mayor Gilbert Gatchalian, BSU president Dr. Cecilia Gascon, BSU head librarian Maria Pretty Lay Abdala, Asia CEO forum Rebecca Bustamante and Aspen Pharmaceuticals CEO Ace Itchon.

After the successful start of Mills’ books-for-the-Philippines project, he is looking forward to ramping up his project to deliver more books to schools across Philippines. He said, “Canadians like helping Filipinos and are already asking me about next year.”

If you are a deserving school, please contact Chris Mills.

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