Young Filipino-Canadian gives books to schools

In Photo: Chris Mills (middle) with (from left) Aspen Philippines Inc. CEO Marcelina T. Itchon, BSU President Cecilia Gascon, Malolos Vice Mayor Gilbert T. Gatchalian and BSU President Cecilia Gascon.

CHRIS MILLS grew up in the Philippines with a Filipina mother. When he went to Canada for university, he was amazed at the high-quality textbooks available.

Mills resolved that if he could get large numbers of such books to public schools in the Philippines, he would really have a big impact on students’ (and teachers’) lives.

He spoke to a lot of people at his Canadian school to get his books-for-Philippines project off the ground, but initially had a lot of difficulty.

“I think everyone thought I was just a kid and couldn’t pull it off,” he said.

Everything changed when one of his professors, Russell Turner, supported Mills’s project. Turner is a well-liked professor at two higher learning schools: the Trent University and Fleming College, in the city of Peterborough, just outside Toronto in central Canada.

The half-Filipino “kid” went office to office with his friends at both schools selling his “Russell-sanctified” plan. Amazingly, students, professors and college administrators all joined in and started collecting books. An entire community of people soon worked together for the project.

Many of the books are written by the world’s leading experts in their fields. Typically, these textbooks cost Canadian students P5,000 to P15,000 apiece.


MILLS said he was “moved by how much Canadians really want to help Filipinos.”

So many books were donated that soon the problem he faced was how to collect and store the hundreds, and later thousands, of heavy books.

His fraternity pals helped by pooling cash. Likewise, they helped Mills deliver half-a-ton or so of books to other cities on weekends and in-between classes.

The next problem the students faced almost stopped everything. When they found out the cost to ship the large load to the Philippines, it almost killed the project. How could they ever pay? Luckily, a Filipino logistics company offered to ship the entire load for free.

The most recent shipment of more than 1,700 books arrived recently with an estimated retail value of P8 million.

Top-ranked Bulacan State University (BSU) was chosen to receive most of this year’s shipment. With 25,000 students, it is one of the country’s largest state universities outside of Metro Manila.

Malolos Vice Mayor Gilbert T. Gatchalian led the acceptance of the shipment. With Gatchalian were BSU President Cecilia Gascon and Aspen Philippines Inc. CEO Marcelina T. Itchon.

Mills is looking forward to ramping up his project to deliver more books to schools across the Philippines.

“Canadians like helping Filipinos and are already asking me about next year,” he said.

Mills said schools wanting to receive textbooks from Canada may contact him on his Facebook page.

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