Defying gravity: Synergeia’s 14th education summit to focus on boosting competency

Synergeia Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development will be holding the 14th Washington SyCip National Education Summit this month, with focus on improving the proficiency of Filipino students amidst the learning challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the theme “Learning from our Best to Defy Gravity”, the virtual summit on March 25-26 will show how the national and local governments can work more efficiently to help students across the country who have fallen behind their international counterparts based on recent global learning competency assessments.

The two-day event will be streamed live on Synergeia’s Facebook page.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, will speak on how the central government can spearhead the climb towards increased proficiency.

Filipino Grade 5 students lagged some of their regional counterparts in reading, writing and mathematics proficiency, based on the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics done by the United Nations Children’s Fund and Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization. The year before, 15-year old students from the Philippines ranked lowest among 79 countries in reading proficiency and second lowest in mathematics and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who set up community learning hubs, will lead the awarding of the Seal of Good Education Governance to local governments that have excelled in implementing education-focused initiatives during the pandemic.

Mayor Rex Gatchalian from Valenzuela City, which supplemented remote learning with teaching videos streamed live from one of its schools, will challenge local governments into thinking out of the box to deliver education more effectively.

There will be panel discussions among education stakeholders including mayors, principals, teachers, parents and students on how they have transformed learning in their communities through participatory leadership, devoted parenting and committed teaching.

Education financing, a critical issue as the global health crisis prompted local governments to fund the production of millions of learning modules, will also be in focus as well as Synergeia’s plans over the next two years.

The summit will end with a conversation with respected singer and songwriter Jose Mari Chan. He will also be singing two of his songs – “Be Gentle” and “No Rewind, No Replay.”

Seal of Good Education Governance

Synergeia, supported by USAID and UNICEF and in partnership with PLDT Smart and Seaoil Foundation, will be awarding the Seal of Good Education Governance for a fourth year.

The Seal is given to cities and municipalities that have shown a marked improvement in education governance. Accomplishing that goal has become harder since 2020 as the pandemic closed schools, forcing millions of students to learn remotely.

Still, many local governments tried to limit disruptions to education. While some cities provided free computer tablets to children, there were municipalities that conducted limited, in-person tutorials in open areas to help students cope with distance education while observing safety protocols.

To qualify, the city or municipality must have a high cohort-survival rate, that is, Grade 1 students must at least finish Grade 6.

Other criteria include how local governments have reinvented their Local School Boards; how functional their School Governing Councils are; a decrease in the number of non-readers based on the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory Test; and an increase in the ratio of education spending to the total local government budget.

A criterion was added this year to measure the involvement of the community in helping parents and children overcome the challenges brought on by the pandemic including school closures and restrictions in movement among people.

The Seal of Good Education Governance is aimed at encouraging transparency, accountability and efficiency among local governments in providing education to children – their most important constituents.

Synergeia, a nonprofit organization that transforms communities to improve the quality of basic education, has handed out 61 Seal of Good Education Governance since 2017, with nine local governments being recipients of the Seal for three years in a row.

Consistent winners include Diffun, Quirino; Solano, Nueva Vizcaya; Lambunao and Mina in Iloilo; Cagayan de Oro City; Valenzuela City; Datu Paglas, Maguindanao; Bongao, Tawi Tawi; and Bacnotan, La Union.

Apart from the Seal, the winning local governments will receive prizes for their communities from PLDT Smart and Seaoil Foundation.

Official media partners for the summit are, INQPOP!, BusinessWorld, Pageone, The Philippine Post, The Luzon Daily, The Visayas Journal, The Mindanao Life, Manila Magazine, Woman PH, Digital News Exchange and Malaya Business Insight.

Migration and property investment not deterred by travel restrictions

Property investment has become a borderless transaction with the existence of online real estate platforms like Lamudi. For foreclosures, in particular, pageviews and leads indicate city residents’ desire to own property in the provinces, which may indicate that those who are buying property are ready to move into a new location or that they are considering property investment.

Amid the pandemic, this shows that despite travel restrictions, and perhaps due to this limit on mobility, property buyers want to improve their living conditions by moving outside of the metro to get a bigger property for a more attractive price, or owning property in a popular destination to generate a passive income.

Foreclosures as a way to enter the property investment market

According to Lamudi’s data, in 4Q2020, the millennial age bracket (25-34) contributed the most pageviews (27.19%) and leads (31.7%) for foreclosed properties for sale. This age group is known to be a generation of travelers, who enjoy experiences rather than investments. The pandemic may have marked a shift in the younger generation’s mindset, and uncovered the potential of real estate as a way to grow wealth. With their income in check as they start and establish their careers, they may be considering property investments with a more affordable price tag such as foreclosures.

As the pandemic has shifted lives to become more technology-based, there is an interesting demand uncovered by Lamudi’s data. In 4Q2020, pageviews for foreclosed properties for sale done on mobile devices jumped from 63.63% to 68.23% quarter-on-quarter. Leads also jumped from 69.82% to 74.15%, signifying the more immediate decision to pursue foreclosed properties in 4Q2020.

Metro residents and overseas seekers are looking into provincial cities

Throughout the pandemic, there has been a trend to move to provincial cities for their less dense areas, focus on open spaces, and relatively more affordable property prices. This trend is also reflected in the interest in foreclosed properties in provincial regions.

Seven out of the top 10 most-searched locations for foreclosed properties for sale are located in the provinces, accounting for 64.66% of pageviews generated by the group of locations assessed. These provincial cities are Antipolo (13.27%), General Trias (11.42%), Bacoor (11.34%), San Pedro (8.02%), Dasmariñas (7.18%), Imus (6.72%), and Calamba (6.72%). 

What’s more interesting is the fact that buyers of foreclosed properties seem to be interested in areas outside their current location. Six out of the top 10 property seeker cities that generate pageviews for foreclosures are different from the location where they want to buy foreclosed properties. These six locations–Makati, Manila, Pasig, Cebu City, Caloocan, and Angeles–generated 42.63% of pageviews for foreclosures for sale in 4Q2020.

Interest from overseas seekers also proves that travel restrictions have not hindered property search. Taking a look at the top 10 overseas locations in terms of pageviews for foreclosed properties, there is demand from Singapore (23.65%), Dubai (15.91%), Doha (10.36%), Riyadh (8.91%), Sydney (8.21%), Los Angeles (7.99%), Abu Dhabi (7.37%), Toronto (6.38%), London (6.04%), and Jeddah (5.18%).

What attracts property buyers to foreclosures

One of the draws of foreclosures is the security of full disclosure of information of the property to be purchased. In a Q&A article from Lamudi, Paolo E. Abarquez of VAL Law shared, “Given that sellers of foreclosed properties are usually banks or financial institutions, information such as tax payments, utilities payments, property condition, and pending court cases involving the property are disclosed to the buyer.”

On Lamudi, banks such as BDO and Unionbank are some of the providers of foreclosed properties. BDO has more than 1,700 listings on the platform, with property types ranging from residential lots, houses and condominiums, to commercial, agricultural and industrial properties all over the Philippines. The first bank client of Lamudi, BDO has been making their foreclosed properties available online on the platform since 2014.

Abarquez added that foreclosed properties are also a way for buyers to find properties in locations with high commercial value where properties may not usually be available for sale.

Focusing on the residential market, Unionbank recently added 500 of its foreclosed property listings to Lamudi. Unionbank’s foreclosures are located in some of the most sought-after locations in Metro Manila as well as in Visayas and Mindanao.

The pandemic has changed the priorities of Filipinos, and with real estate transactions made borderless by Lamudi, property buyers can fulfill their homeownership dreams regardless of where they are and where they want to move into.

Visit to see foreclosed properties from BDO and Unionbank on Lamudi.


Duty Free Philippines (DFP) will be holding a 4-day sale dubbed as Forward March a thanksgiving treat to all our valued shoppers who have continuously patronized Duty Free shopping and to celebrate as well our continued strength and resilience during this Covid-19 pandemic.

To mark this month of March, Duty Free offers as much as 70% discount in most of the product categories, on March 18, 19, 20 and 21, 2021 at its flagship Fiestamall store in Paranaque, 11am to 6pm and Luxe Duty Free at the MOA complex, 11am to 7pm.

“Rest assured all of IATF’s safety regulations, such as the regular disinfection and social distancing protocols, wearing of face mask and face shield are strictly complied with. Our customers’ and employees’ convenience and safety remain our number one priority”, said COO Angala.

As an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, DFP remains true to its mandate of catering to the shopping needs of international travelers despite the ongoing pandemic.  All these efforts are geared to further enhance the Tourism attached agency’s retail presence to augment revenues and continually contribute to government’s tourism programs and projects.

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