Musings of a COO : Pitching In

One of the things I’ve repeatedly said that I love about my job is the opportunity it gives me to serve, and to do something good for others. Aside from my role as Corporate Communications Director, I also head our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Team.  It is my job to determine our company’s areas of focus, and the programs we support.

In the past 3 years, we’ve chosen to narrow our efforts to the fields of education, environment, and community health.  Collectively, we call our programs the SEED Initiative which stands for, Sowing to Educate, Empower, and Develop. We’ve offered scholarship programs to children of our employees, we’ve partnered with organizations such as WWF to teach grade school children about climate change, and we’ve held numerous medical missions to help uplift the health situation of Habitat for Humanity communities.

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While I’m so proud of the work we’ve accomplished, I usually have mixed emotions when doing CSR work.  Without a doubt, it is very fulfilling,  but many times it also makes me feel sad that the problem of poverty in our country is so huge and overwhelming and unfair.

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In some cases, it even makes me feel hopeless and keeps me wondering if it is a situation that we will ever solve or eradicate.

During the times I start to feel overwhelmed by hopelessness, I have to stop myself and try to focus on the positive things we are able to accomplish as a company, and to remember the people who we have been able to help and who have benefitted from our efforts.  As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.  Applying it to this situation, it will take a mighty, collective effort, as well as a considerable amount of time, to instigate big changes in our country’s poverty situation.  What’s important is for people to continuously pitch in and do their share.  And hopefully, throughout the years, these little collective efforts will get bigger and bigger, and effect a big change.

The same can be said for the recent efforts that have gone into helping the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda.  The destruction has been utterly massive, and I can imagine how, seeing the images on TV, one can feel so devastated and wonder if our people in the Visayas will ever be able to rebuild their lives again.

But the outpouring of generosity from various people, companies, church groups, NGO’s and industries have been so inspiring, it somehow restores my faith and makes me believe that we will definitely rise up from this tragedy, and that we WILL overcome this dire situation together.  In fact, it is because of the pro-activeness and tireless giving of these groups and individuals  that our medicines have been able to reach the far-flung towns that were badly hit by the supertyphoon.

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During these past two weeks, most of my time has been spent coordinating medicine solicitations for various municipalities in Leyte, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo, and spearheading the collection of relief goods from our employees.  This truckload of stuff, for example, was shipped to Ormoc, Leyte, to support the efforts of our Corporate Endorser, Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez, who described the devastation as, “Parang an atomic bomb passed through the city!”

Receiving her text instantly made me feel thankful that Metro Manila was spared from the brunt of the storm, and at the same time privileged to be able to donate medicines and other goods that would be more than helpful to the survivors in her town.

Aside from Ormoc, Guiuan in Eastern Samar was another badly hit area.  Luckily, because of the generosity of the people behind Alphaland and Balesin Island, we were able to respond quickly to their need, and to fly some medicines to the wounded people there.

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It was quite an experience to walk into their private hangar, and to see the massive amounts of goods, waiting to be flown and distributed to the survivors. Again I felt extremely lucky to be on the giving end, knowing that our small contribution would make a big difference in the health and well-being of the people in Guiuan.

It is my sincerest hope that the kindness, compassion and generosity that I have witnessed and have been privileged to be a part of these past few weeks does not wane.  The road to rehabilitation will be long and difficult for the Visayas, but as long as the outpouring of support from our fellow Filipinos remains constant, as long as people continue to pitch in whatever little they can, I am sure we will prove to the world that together, we can indeed surpass this tragedy, and rise from it.

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