Chris Mills (back row farthest right) and his student group with the UMAC Toronto team in Peterborough. Back row L-R: Bosco Chou, Sev Golanov, Petra Varadi, Alexander Mills, Anna Szigeti and Chris Mills. Front row L-R: Stephen Salvador and Robert Correa of UMAC Toronto, Marcus Fuchs, James Holton and Aiyman Vassanji. Photographer: JonJon Hucker
With another holiday season around the corner, Trent University Fil-Canadian student Chris Mills geared up for another book drive with the help of his team at the ASEAN Intellectual Development Project in partnership with UMAC Toronto to deliver over 3,000 donated books to rural schools and libraries in the Philippines. He founded the ASEAN Intellectual Development Project in 2017, a student organization to support his advocacy to make quality education accessible to the underprivileged by collecting and shipping donated books to rural schools and libraries in the Philippines. His initiative was inspired by his mother Rebecca Bustamante, the famous former domestic worker who through her love of reading self-help books coupled with her iron will to pull her family out of poverty was able to rise to the heights of success as one of the top female CEOs in southeast Asia.
Chris and his brother Alex were raised in the Philippines by their Filipina mother and Canadian father Richard Mills, the founders of Chalré Associates. The brothers eventually moved to Canada to attend university in Peterborough where they were surprised to learn that textbooks here are of a much higher quality than back home and are more easily accessible to Canadian students unlike in the Philippines where many schools and students cannot afford quality textbooks. After the success of their previous book drive, the project has grown with the support of their fellow students and professors. This fall, they collected 3,428 books worth around $37,000 which include textbooks, children’s literature, reference books as well as fiction and non-fiction books to donate to rural libraries, elementary schools, high schools and universities. However, they hit a roadblock figuring out how to afford international shipping costs and finding the means to transport several boxes from Peterborough to Toronto when they had already exhausted their meagre student resources after shipping their first donation haul of 3,200 books earlier in March.
Fortunately, UMAC Toronto came to their rescue by partnering in this project as soon as they heard about the students’ dilemma. UMAC not only shipped all 17 boxes full of books for free, they also went over and beyond their normal service by arranging a special pickup trip from Scarborough to Peterborough at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning October 6, 2019 to provide the students with boxes which they helped them pack securely for safe transit to protect their precious cargo. “UMAC has been very helpful. The fact that they came up here to pick it up and are also covering the costs has been amazing,” says Chris.
Being a close-knit family-run business with a heart for those in need, UMAC was impressed with the students’ vision and efforts and immediately came to their aid coordinating logistics within a couple of days. “If you are doing business in the community, you want to give back to the community what you have,” says UMAC Toronto CEO Teodorico H. Dayno. “We started in 2004 in Toronto, We’re still here. We have the same employees. It’s not only business because we treat our employees like family. So, when we heard about this, we thought it’s really good because we will be able to help the youth,” says Chief Operations Officer Perly Baguisa. “At the end of the day all of this is for our kababayans,” explains Chris Mills. “Because it’s too bad if the citizens of the Philippines have to leave the country to find work because there are no good jobs. So, if we can improve the quality of education, we also increase not only their skills, but we also give them the ability to start their own companies and make their place better.”
UMAC also has money remittance and air cargo services for documents and boxes for urgent deliveries that need to get to the Philippines in 7-10 days. For inquiries call 416 298 8622 or visit https://www.umactoronto.com/
To learn more about the ASEAN Intellectual Development Project and to donate books, visit https://www.facebook.com/AIDPhl/