Leap of faith: UnionBank empowers its PWD team members
Life is all about taking leaps of faith–and for some Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) team members, their current role at UnionBank’s command center may just be their biggest and most special leap yet.
Recognizing the talents of persons with disabilities and being aware of the challenges they face, UnionBank, the banking and financial services business unit of the Aboitiz Group, reached out to train PWDs and eventually hired them as data analysts.
In 2018, UnionBank’s Information Technology (IT) Services Group established a command center at the Tahanangg Walang Hagdanan, Inc. an institution in Cainta, Rizal that provides shelter and livelihood for PWDs.
Today, this satellite office is manned by three PWD personnel: Maria Ana dela Cruz, Lilibeth Jacob, and Denise Jane Mate.
Ana, Lilibeth, and Denise are tasked to remotely monitor the infrastructure and “health” of all IT systems serving UnionBank.
A polio survivor who can’t walk since she was three years old, Lilibeth persisted and managed to attain a degree in information technology.
At UnionBank’s satellite office, she monitors servers, infrastructure and automated teller machine transactions.
“Then, checking po ng applications, log-ins, at kung okay po yung web, kung naka-up po (checking of applications, log-ins, and websites, if they are up and running),” says Lilibeth, who is a mother to a young son.
“Isang napakalaking opportunity na mabigyan ka ng ganitong trabaho dahil siyempre, sa kalagayan ko, mahirap po talagang mag-apply (To be given this job is indeed a big opportunity, given my condition, it’s really hard to apply),” Lilibeth shared.
Meanwhile, Ana, a business administration major, was born with congenital deformities. But like Lilibeth, she also persisted, paving the way for her employment in UnionBank – her first employer.
Ana says she feels proud “kasi siyempre po UnionBank, malaking company po. Masarap ang feeling kaya ginhawa rin po na nakakatulong ako sa pamilya ko (because UnionBank is such a big company. It feels so good that I am able to support my family).”
Denise, who has a congenital cataract that has left her with 16/14 vision, struggled both physically and emotionally as she was bullied growing up.
“Growing up was different, it was a curse. People would tell me, ‘Why are you different? Why can’t you see? You’re not one of us!’- they make fun of you, and they push you: physically, mentally, and emotionally. “I thought I won’t survive because it was really like hell for me,” Denise shares.
That is why Denise is extremely grateful to UnionBank for giving her hope and for accepting her for who she is, and what she is capable of.
“I would like to say thank you because way back, I was watching my dreams and my life falling apart. But because of this opportunity, you have given me light, love, life and hope,” Denise says.
According to Benjamin Berba, UnionBank Incident and Problem and Service Management head, the bank’s Tahanangg Walang Hagdanan command center is both a testament to the Aboitiz Group’s commitment to PWD empowerment–and to the remarkable resilience of UnionBank’s PWD team members as well.
UnionBank recognizes the impressive efforts of these three ordinary women with extraordinary determination and admirable grit, amid the celebration of National Women’s Month this March and the 100th year anniversary of Aboitiz & Co.
“If you persevere enough, and you want it enough, I think opportunities will be there for you, especially in Aboitiz -an organization where we truly promote community-building,” Berba said.
UnionBank’s Tahanangg Walang Hagdanan command center is part of GoBeyond Communities, the main driver of UnionBank’s corporate social responsibility campaign. This team member-driven campaign has resulted in over 230 projects and 860 communities served across the country. These projects support critical needs in education, environment, livelihood, and inclusion.