“Over the course of our work, we have had to employ even carabaos to deliver TV sets and satellite dishes to schools without roads. We have had to carry our equipment on outrigger boats through pirate infested waters. But as we see the brilliant faces of the children watching educational TV for the first time…we know this is work we can and should do.”
– Rina Lopez-Bautista
In 2006, Elvira Lopez-Bautista had the privilege to deliver a speech during the 59th United Nations NGO Conference held in New York City, USA. Not many get the chance to speak in front of an international audience, more so in a venue graced by global leaders. But Rina, as most would call her, was given the opportunity to share to the world a worthy advocacy in uplifting the lives of many Filipinos from poverty through education.
She is the co-founder, president, and executive director of Knowledge Channel Foundation (KCFI), a non-stock, not-for-profit organization that operates Knowledge Channel, a local cable and digital television network that develops and airs and distributes multimedia learning resources anchored on the K to 12 curriculum of the Department of Education. It is the first and only curriculum-based channel in the Philippines that offers TV programs for Math, Science English and other subjects to public schools all over the country.
“It streams in TV programs that provide the teacher with audio-visual materials with which to explain the subject matter better,” she said in her UN speech.
It was in November 6, 1999 when Knowledge Channel made its first broadcast. It was the beginning of an innovation where mass media could be used to educate more than 20 million Filipino learners located in 7,107 islands. By the year 2000, Knowledge Channel Foundation inked a 10-year Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Education. This became the first chapter of Rina’s dream in bringing the Knowledge Channel to every corner of the country.
“We took the risk of crossing the mountains and possibly encountering rebel groups because we believed that the community and the children needed it. Having seen a TV for the first time, the children were so amazed at what they saw that they actually went behind the television to see if there were people inside it!” she shared in an interview.
Rina and the Knowledge Channel Foundation team traveled to many areas in the Philippines bringing television sets, cable wires, satellites, and other equipment, from Itbayat, Batanes up north, to Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi down south, to connect Knowledge Channel to public schools.
By 2005, Knowledge Channel Foundation was given a three-year grant by USAID amounting to US$1,000,000 in utilizing mass media as a long-term intervention in promoting peace in Mindanao.
In the years that followed, Knowledge Channel Foundation continued its mission in providing more public schools access to the wealth of educational materials aired through the Knowledge Channel. It has strengthened its partnership with the Department of Education through teacher and school administrator trainings via the Superintendent’s Leadership Program (SLP) and more recently, LEEP or Learning Effectively through Enhanced and Evidence-based Pedagogies. It has also expanded its educational tools by creating online educational games and on-demand packages which include a Portable Media Library containing more than a thousand educational videos and learning materials.
For more than a decade, Rina Lopez-Bautista continues to steer an organization that greatly influences a generation of Filipinos. One could say that many Filipino millennials would easily recall shows like Sineskwela, Epol Apol or MathTinik. But more than that, her and the organization’s work and heart has impacted the lives of children. Children like Hilmarie Nimo, whom used to be an avid viewer of the Knowledge Channel, is now an aspiring lawyer. She just finished taking the bar examinations.
To date, Knowledge Channel Foundation has received awards including The Catholic Mass Media Jaime Cardinal Sin Serviam Award, the IABC Gold Quill Award for Excellence, the Anvil Award of Merit, the Asian CSR Award for Education, the Lopez Achievement Award, and many others.
Rina Lopez-Bautista has also been a recipient of numerous prestigious awards, among them are: the CEO Excel Award of Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH); the Parangal Lingkod Sambayanan Award from the Ateneo de Manila University; and the La Sallian Achievement Award for Distance Learning from the De La Salle Alumni Association.
Rina Lopez-Bautista is also loving daughter, mother, and most importantly, a Filipino with a heart.