If there was one phone call that changed Richard Christopher Bornea’s life, it would be the one he received from Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), telling the 19-year old Biology major he just won P100,000 in the telco’s Balik Tuition Program.
“I couldn’t believe it at first. I was shocked. But I was extremely grateful,” said Richard. While he already won a Smart Bro Pocket WiFi in the same draw last year, pocketing the grand prize goes a long way for the Biology major. “This money will greatly help me in my studies and my family as well.”
When COVID-19 disrupted face-to-face classes last year, Richard’s school, like most educational institutions, migrated to online learning. While he had a laptop he could work on, the sophomore student at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) said connecting to the internet was a challenge.
They had to change apartments after his father lost his job, so a fixed line was not an option. They moved to a new location when his father was eventually employed as a private driver at a construction firm. His mother had returned home after finishing her contract in Saudi Arabia. Money was tight, so he made do with his prepaid mobile data. But what got him through were Smart’s Giga promos.
“I had to mind my data use. I survived by subscribing to promos. I usually avail Giga Study 99 because it allows me to maximize the learning tools that I need for online classes,” he said.
Giga Study 99 is the ideal student load. It comes with 2GB of open access data for seven days plus 1GB daily allocation for learning tools such as Google, Google Search, Google Plus, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft 365. For those who need more, they can check out other Giga Study offers available on the Smart GigaLife App.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for connectivity especially in the new normal for education. The internet has made it possible for students to continue with their studies. And with our GIGA Data Products, we were able to offer an innovation that allows our subscribers to stay connected to the internet and to their passions everyday, without having to worry about fully utilizing their data allocation immediately. This continuous connectivity will empower our students to live smarter for a better world,” said Jane Basas, senior vice president and head of Consumer Wireless Business Group at Smart.
With P100,000 in his pocket, Richard bought a new laptop and gave his old unit to his sister who will start senior high school this school year. He’s also setting aside budget for a postpaid internet connection. But that will have to wait until his family has found a permanent home they can transfer to. He plans to use part of his prize as down payment for their new home.
Richard is determined to pursue medical school. Having spent a significant amount of time in Negros Occidental, Richard saw the scarcity of doctors in rural areas. “I saw how much we need doctors. And now with a raging pandemic, we even need more of them to serve the growing number of patients. I want to give back to the community.”
Smart launched the ‘Balik Tuition Promo’ back in October – an electronic raffle where students using Smart and TNT prepaid SIMs can win cash, gadgets, and data loads – to help Filipino students get on with the new normal of e-learning.
Aside from Richard, three other students from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao have also won P100,000 each, for joining the two-month-long promo that lasted up to December 31, 2020.