THE RECENT survey on corruption in Asia released by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) places the Philippines as the sixth most corrupt country in Asia in 2008. This is already a marked improvement from the country’s performance in 2007 when it was ranked the most corrupt country in the region then. Bagging the title in 2008 is Indonesia, followed by Thailand, Cambodia, India and Vietnam. Perceived least corrupt in the region is Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, then Australia. (See story here.) I first witnessed corruption as a young girl when I saw a jeepney driver slipping a P20 bill in between his driver’s license and LTO registration official receipt and handing this over to a policeman apprehending him in one of the major thoroughfares of Quezon City. When the policeman handed back his license and the jeep sped off, the driver chuckled and boasted to us passengers how he got away with just a P20 bill. Small time indeed. Corruption, though, pervades almost every area, including the business world. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, in a speech delivered during the recent Leadership Conference Series 2 presented by De La Salle University, PLDT-Smart Foundation, and Smart Infinity at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, cited the results of the Social Weather Stations Survey of Enterprises on Corruption conducted from September 9 to October 10, 2008. In this survey, Panganiban said, “a staggering 71 percent said they had been blatantly asked for bribes in connection with their dealings with government, like when they secured business permits, paid customs duties and income taxes, supplied the government with goods and services, or availed of government incentives.” Today, we are seeing more people calling for and practicing integrity in the government and in business. During his term, Panganiban called on 2,000 justices and judges to adhere to four core values: independence, integrity, industry and intelligence. “From the 26,000 judicial employees, I pleaded for ‘DHL’: Dedication to duty, Honesty in every way and Loyalty to the Supreme Court. And from the 45,000 lawyers, I called for ‘EC’: Ethics and Competence. Finally, I asked all these sectors to help reform the judiciary by fighting the ‘ACID’ problems that corrode justice: limited Access to justice by the poor, Corruption, Incompetence and Delay in the delivery of quality judgments,” remarked Panganiban in the same speech. There is hope in business as well. Panganiban further told the story of how PLDT chair Manny Pangilinan, on his second day, ordered that a briefcase full of cash representing his share of the commissions in the company’s advertising placements be deposited officially in the bank’s accounts. Can corruption ever be eradicated in our country? The task may be enormous, but little steps like these count. If we were able to improve our standing on Asia’s most corrupt list from first to sixth in one year, we can do more in the coming years.
Recently in responsible business Category
BUSINESS ethics call for corporate social responsibility (CSR) where public interest is given top priority. One Filipino company has been showing the business world the way to do it, and it’s not just through talk, but through action. At Lamoiyan Corporation, maker of Hapee Toothpaste, about 30 percent of the employees are hearing-impaired. Other people with similar handicaps are also accommodated. But realizing that there are still many more people outside the company needing help, Lamoiyan took it upon itself to support three schools and 14 centers that provide basic sign language courses to the hearing-impaired. Upon graduation, some students are sent to college as scholars, while others are hired by the company. “The hearing-impaired number close to 500,000 in the Philippines. Only 40,000 of them get schooling,” revealed Dr. Cecilio K. Pedro, Lamoiyan Corporation president, in a short speech delivered during the Leadership Conference Series 2 presented recently by De La Salle University, PLDT-Smart Foundation, and Smart Infinity at Sofitel Philippine Plaza. (The main speaker during the said conference was former British prime minister Tony Blair.) “More and more companies in the world espouse CSR. In our company, it’s a way of life, not just a marketing ploy,” adds Dr. Pedro. In the company, Dr. Pedro says about 3 to 5 percent of the marketing budget is used to reach out to the hearing-impaired. “It is the responsibility of every Filipino company who can afford, to help.” And why should Filipino companies extend help to those who need it? “There is hope in this country. For this country to progress, we have to work together. It has to start with you and me. Let us stop blaming the government,” Dr. Pedro explains. “If there is anyone to blame, it is us. If good people are willing to stand up for what is right and do what is right, the Philippines will be a great country.”
HURRAY FOR PIGS. Swine wastewater is put to good use in the 1.1-megawatt biogas waste-to-energy project at Robina 12 Farm in San Miguel, Bulacan. A project of Hacienda Bio-Energy Corporation (HBC) and Philippine Bio-Sciences Company, Inc. (PhilBIO), the said project, which uses biogas recovered from advanced anaerobic digestion, is the largest biogas renewable energy project in the country. In fact, the project is expected to capture gases equivalent to approximately 42,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, which would otherwise be released to the atmosphere, further hastening global warming. According to PhilBIO, the Robina 12 Farm project uses the next generation Covered In-Ground Anaerobic Reactor (CIGAR) technology. This ensures higher quantity and quality biogas. “The CIGAR is coupled with an on-site electric power generation plant utilizing the captured biogas (tested at 70 percent methane gas by volume) as fuel to generate electricity,” says PhilBIO in a statement. Now just think: If more companies with the resources needed would take the time to pursue a biogas project, we would reduce our dependency on oil to generate electricity.
Today’s generation, dubbed Generation Q, is described as well-educated, passive, less radical, not socially engaged, but with high-paying jobs. But they are also optimists who will always have hope for the future. “How do we get our customers to give back?” asks Paolo del Rosario, marketing director of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Philippines, Inc. “Sometimes all one needs is a start,” says del Rosario. This is what led CBTL to design a program to help spark the passion of this generation and stimulate the spirit of giving. Dubbed 12 Cups with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Give In to Giving, the program allows customers to get involved or help out in any or all of the 12 handpicked non-government and charity organizations involved in different causes. “We want this holiday season to be what it’s about—giving. We tried to come up with different representation of organizations. There’s bound to be something that would be close to your heart,” says del Rosario. CBTL conducted an informal survey among 600 of its customers per store to find out what causes are interesting to them. First on the list is education, second is children’s health, and third is children’s welfare. But customers are also interested in supporting environmental protection and animal rights, among others. For customers to be involved in the program, all they need to do is to complete the 12 boxes (representing drinks ordered) in a stamp card. When the card is filled up, the customer can choose one advocacy to support. CBTL will donate to the customer’s chosen charity in his name. In return, the customer gets a limited edition CBTL journal featuring artworks by Filipino artists such as Zean Cabangis, Erwin Leano, Carlo Angelo Saavedra, Salvador Joel Alonday, Benjie Cabangis, Noell El Farol, Sandra Fabie-Gfeller, Jim Orencio, Riel Hilario, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, Augusto Albor, and Jose Tence Ruiz. And for customers who would like to donate to all 12 charities, they get one year’s supply of brewed coffee for free. The program runs from November 7, 2008 to January 18, 2009. The twelve organizations catering to different advocacies benefiting from the program are: Kababaihan Gabay sa Bayan (KAGABAY), Caritas Manila-Restorative Justice Program, Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Bahay Tuluyan, Haribon, Cartwheel Foundation, Kythe, Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP), Philippine Cerebral Palsy Inc., Philippine Band of Mercy (PBM), Resources for the Blind, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). CBTL commits to donate in a customer’s name the following: * KAGABAY: P600 per child for kids’ education needs * Caritas Manila: P1,000 for values formation classes and materials per schoolyear per inmate * PAWS: medicines for animals under their care * Bahay Tuluyan: a birthday present per child worth P250 * Haribon: adoption of a seedling * Cartwheel Foundation: P8,000 for educational materials, curriculum development, tuition, teacher training for each student per schoolyear * Kythe: an unforgettable kids’ outing * ASP: P2,000 for books needed by children to study * Phil. Cerebral Palsy Inc.: P1,800 per month per patient for medicine and rehabilitation * PBM: P8,000 for the operation of each child * Resources for the Blind: P1,000 for Braille textbooks * PBSP: medical consultation worth P200 for a child “If you ask me, with the abundance of blogs, social networking sites and mobile phones, the passion of our generation is really that we share a piece of ourselves to others,” says del Rosario. “Through Give In to Giving, CBTL hopes this will start a change in our generation for the better, one cup at a time.” Photo shows two of the artworks used in the limited edition CBTL journals. These artworks are by Riel Hilario (Whatever Happened to Pygmalion and Galatea) and Christina Quisumbing Ramilo (Madre Simula-BIRTH).
It’s Intellectual Property Rights week. Every last week of October has been named Intellectual Property Rights week by Presidential Proclamation No. 79. Contrary to what most people think, intellectual property is more than just about battling pirated software and fake designer bags. It covers any creation of the mind—copyrights, trademarks or brands, patents, industrial designs, and undisclosed information. So that includes written works, audio visual creations, music, inventions, and distinctive marks, among others. Have you protected your trademark already? How about copyrighting that catchy jingle or that unique product design? Think of them as your assets--and they are, intangible and valuable--that need protection. As we can see, they’re fairly easy to copy. Safeguarding IP assets is thus vital to ensure that artists, inventors, and innovators benefit from their creations. According to Atty. Ferdinand Negre, partner of Bengzon Negre Untalan Intellectual Property Attorneys, “Intellectual property is steadily gaining recognition, not only on a global scale, but locally as well. Addressing IP concerns in the Philippines becomes all the more pressing because it is one of the keys for the nation’s advancement.” The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines) is the country's mandated agency in charge of implementing IP policies. Its strategic goals for 2007-2009 are focused on delivering quality patents and trademarks, facilitating technology transfer, supporting small and medium enterprises and creative industries, and developing a vibrant IP culture. Atty. Adrian Cristobal, Jr. is the current director general of IP Philippines. To know more about protecting and registering your IP assets, as well as the various activities of Intellectual Property Rights Week: Innovation in Motion, visit IP Philippines' official website here.
Photo courtesy of Dylac By Mark Ruiz The humble sari-sari store is the smallest kind of store in the Philippines, but it can also be one of the most powerful. It’s normally started by a simple Nanay from a humble background who wants to augment the family income. After all, the sari-sari store is a relatively simple business to start. It’s home-based, which means that there’s no rent nor major construction expenses. In most cases, it’s literally a hole in the wall. All the Nanay needs to get started is a little capital--just a couple of thousand pesos will be enough to buy the initial goods. These items are then sold with a little margin, more inventory is bought, these in turn are sold, and so on and so forth. The virtuous cycle of sari-sari store retailing has begun. But because the sari-sari store is small, the earnings are also relatively small. And because most sari-sari store owners don’t have proper training and enough access to opportunities, there is little room to grow. And because the sari-sari stores are not organized, their collective potential is largely untapped. Fact : the sari-sari store IS small. But with more than 600,000 of them nationwide, collectively that’s a powerful, positive force from the bottom-of-the-pyramid that can be unleashed. It was in this spirit and opportunity that HAPINOY was born. HAPINOY is an organized chain of Sari-Sari Stores owned and run by disciplined microfinancing borrowers, and trained with standardized operating systems. Our company, MicroVentures, partnered with Microfinancing Institutions such as CARD-MRI, TSKI, Kasagana-Ka, and SEEDFinance to provide business development services to these stores for them to grow and evolve. The key benefits to Hapinoy members include a micro-loan, access to better prices and new businesses, training and values formation, store branding, and community development. Hopefully, all these services will help us realize our mission of empowering microentrepreneurs. On top of our partnerships with Microfinancing Institutions, Hapinoy has also created a network of partner-manufacturers who support the program. Through these relationships, Hapinoy stores are able to bulk-source products which are sold through Hapinoy Community Stores. The Hapinoy Community Stores are run by Nanays who started out as small sari-sari stores who are then taken to the next level – from a micro-business into a small business. In fact, we already have a lot of successful Hapinoy Community Store owners, some who started out as a hole-in-the-wall store but now can be considered a mini-grocery. Once successful, the Hapinoy program can professionalize communities of sari-sari stores, and ultimately evolve them. This will be achieved through new products and services, the use of technology, and the marketing of community-produced goods. With all these efforts, we deliberately want to take the humble sari-sari store to the next level and unleash their potential. But it’s not enough that we just focus on economic improvement. Hapinoy also has a strong values formation program in order to make the program more wholistic. By empowering our Nanays, we hope to have an impact to their families. By evolving the stores, we hope to have an impact on the communities. As we always say, “kung ang Nanay ang ilaw ng tahanan, sana ang Hapinoy ay magiging ilaw ng komunidad.” Hapinoy, ultimately, hopes to contribute in our own small way to nation-building. For more information about Hapinoy, do check out our website, www.hapinoy.com. *Mark is the Managing Director of MicroVentures Inc.
No, that’s not CR as in Customer Relations. It’s CR as Filipinos know it—Comfort Room. It seems Filipinos use this unique term for the bathroom. The British call theirs the loo, while Americans call theirs the restroom or the toilet. Now how’s your establishment’s CR? Believe it or not, CRs are now being reviewed in CR Diaries, a unique section of the online city guide Spot. Those that look nice, clean and smell good are praised, while those that need improvement are singled out. The CR Diaries came about this year due to the personal interest of the people behind Spot (community editor Karl Bustamante, managing editor Cathy Paras, and web producer Trixie Zabal). They also were inspired by Lonely Planet’s Bluelist on the Worst Toilets in the World and other related websites and blogs on the same topic. “The goal of CR Diaries,” says Paras, “is threefold: 1. To praise restaurants and establishments/spots who actually pay attention to the cleanliness of their comfort rooms and the ‘comfort’ level of their patrons. 2. To smoke, or should I say ‘flush’ out (no pun intended), spots who clearly need to work on their CRs. More often than not, the CRs we’ve reviewed aren’t really ‘bad’ across the board. For example, we may be turned off by the lack of a toilet seat and a soap dispenser, but we may praise the spot for placing a deodorizer in the stall. Contrarily, we may be in love with a CR that meets all of our hygiene and aesthetic needs, but we may find its use of space completely useless. 3. To make it clear that one’s dining/going out experience is sometimes highly dependent on one’s CR experience.” Readers have been intrigued by CR Diaries, posting comments on reviews published therein. CRs that have garnered high ratings so far include Tiendesitas, The Fort Strip, Max’s Restaurant in its original location on Scout Tuazon Street in Quezon City, and Trinoma Mall, among others. Paras says the idea of taking pride in one’s establishment’s CR seems to be a recent development in Manila. “We are a city that, on our bad days, still thinks it’s ok to pee facing the wall/tree/car tire, despite all signage and laws indicating otherwise. For us at Spot, to love your CR and to be proud of it means to walk the talk, so to speak, so we expect to see toilet paper, deodorizers, functioning door locks, paper towels or an electric hand drier, in the CR – at the very least. It’s quite rare to find a CR with all of the aforementioned toilet accoutrement. But I do think that we have an interest in CRs – an equal interest in the pretty and the sweet-smelling ones, and a morbid fascination in ones that make us plug our noses and gag.” In Paras’ opinion, the current state of CRs in the metro is not as horrible as it used to be, but things can still be improved. “As a city, we can do so much better, and without the help of attendants at that. We can be more disciplined as Manileños in caring for our toilet and CR space for the moment that we are using it so that everyone else who uses it after can enjoy the same clean, properly equipped, safe, well-lit, sweet (or at least neutral) smelling CR that we all love to use and for which we’d even pay a measly twenty pesos, if we were guaranteed the said qualities.” So better make sure that CR is scrubbed clean, is deodorized and has an ample supply of soap, tissue paper, paper towels, and water (of course!) to make people want to come back to your establishment. Users also have the responsibility to keep it clean for the next users.
SAY MARIKINA and one of the first things that comes to mind is shoes. It’s no secret that Marikina-made shoes are of good quality. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos has thousands of them, as can be seen from the shoe museum in the city. Marikina is the shoe capital of the Philippines. The shoe industry in Marikina was said to have started in 1887 by Don Laureano Guevara, also known as Kapitan Moy. According to the Marikina city government website (http://www.marikina.gov.ph/PAGES/history2.htm), Kapitan Moy bought a pair of imported shoes and asked his workmen to duplicate them. Soon, many other residents learned shoemaking and the rest is history. The website also says that as of 1983, 70 percent of shoe production in the country can be traced to Marikina. Shoes from Marikina have also penetrated the foreign markets. Due to globalization and the cheap imports coming in from abroad, though, the production of shoes in Marikina has been affected. But the government and private sector have been working to uplift the industry. Jenny Legarda, one of the co-owners of Teal Shoes and Bags, and a shoe factory owner in the city, says Marikina-made shoes are of good quality and can be at par with imported ones. “It’s just a matter of teaching shoemakers to do it properly. It’s a skill you have to acquire,” she says. The problem she sees, now, however, is the declining interest in shoemaking among the young people. “The young ones don’t want to go into it. Most workers are aged 50 and above,” adds Jenny. This is a concern that must be addressed. Who will take over the aging shoemakers in Marikina? “The government should push for and support the local shoemaking industry,” says Jenny.
THESE DAYS, many people work in a nontraditional way. Just when most office workers are braving the Edsa traffic on weekday mornings, these people are at home brewing coffee, dressing up and getting ready for work a few feet away from their bedroom. They’re the work-at-home people, and their numbers are growing. With today’s technology, more and more jobs can be done anywhere, not just in the office. You can sell just about anything from home, and perform services for clients from bookkeeping and marketing consultancy to graphic design and tutorials as long as you have the basics—a phone line, Internet connection, and a computer. There’s another item I will add to this list of basics: self-discipline. With no boss looking over your shoulder, you as a home entrepreneur should be disciplined enough to do what you’re supposed to do—even if a replay of your favorite TV show House is on and the cool “bed” weather these days makes you want to go back to bed to sleep some more. Other distractions abound for the work-at-home entrepreneur, aside from the TV and the bed. Children, phone calls from friends, even home chores do get into one’s schedule. Of course you need to attend to these too (kids, most especially). So how can you deal with all these and still do a good job? The answer: self-discipline. Here are some tips on how to apply self-discipline on the job: 1. Set your working hours. In an interview with cnn.com , Jim Blasingame, host of a radio show called “The Small Business Advocate,” advises entrepreneurs to set definite working hours “so that when you work, you work, and when you're not working you have quality personal time.” Of course you can do flexi-time, but commit to focus on work for at least 8 hours to get your work done. 2. Have a separate area for work. That cozy bed can really be inviting if you do your work on your laptop there. Find a corner or room in your home which you can designate as your home office. Then put all your “office” equipment there. Having a separate area for work will help you switch instantly into work mode at the start of the day. It will also create a “boundary,” so that when you leave this area at the end of the day, you’ll consciously leave work behind to attend to your personal life. 3. Dress up. While working in comfy pajamas is doable, dressing up for work even if it’s just at home will help set your mind to work mode. Besides, when packages and mail arrive at the door, or unexpected clients drop by, you’re instantly ready. 4. Have some help. If you have small children, consider asking a family member or getting a yaya to help care for them while you work. You’ll still be around in the house, but will have more time to finish your work. Practicing self-discipline will help you do a good job and please your clients. And when clients are happy, the business will prosper.
By Lauren Wong* I came to the Philippines ten years ago, and all I can remember are the white-sand beaches of Palawan. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and I imagined the rest of the Philippines to be just as gorgeous when I boarded a plane bound for Manila. My summer internship with Ashoka Philippines would last for two months; I found that natural beauty abounds, but not in the sprawling mega-metropolis where I live and work. The city, like so many others, is a hub of urban pollution. Luckily for me, there’s life outside of the city limits. Aside from interning with Ashoka, I got to spend some of my weekends in non-urban areas. Trekking up Mount Pinatubo, planting trees near a dam in Zambales, and spending an afternoon in an isolated village in Negros Occidental reminded me of the breathtaking natural beauty of the Philippines. In those little villages tucked in the folds of mountains, people live in communion with their surroundings. Villagers fashion umbrellas out of palm leaves, make useful rags out of tattered clothes, and let no scrap of food goes to waste. The ones I’ve met still remember how to live with the earth, not simply on top of it. That kind of mentality stands as such a contrast from the lives most of us urbanites live. We need to remember what it feels like to not pollute the earth. As climate change becomes a more present danger, we (being Filipinos, Americans, and every other citizen of the world) have got to reconnect with our environment. Some of that starts small, like bringing cloth bags when shopping or, if not, use all of those plastic bags for garbage cans. We could put pride in Filipino-grown food rather than preferring goodies from Switzerland. We could make a conscious effort not to litter and demand a comprehensive recycling program. The biggest environmental concerns here in the Philippines happen to be large structural issues like diesel-belching buses and inefficient energy grids, but that shouldn’t dissuade the average citizen from trying to do their part. People and communities around the world are finding ways to “do their part”, and the Philippines should see if others’ innovative models can be applied here. Between 1990 and 2006, Sweden reduced its carbon emissions by 9 percent while still growing at 44 percent. The nation has installed a carbon tax on gasoline to give its citizens a financial incentive to reduce energy consumption, and a southern city in Sweden is running its electric station with wood waste from sawmills. San Francisco separates garbage into recyclables, food scraps, and trash; while it takes away recyclables and food scraps for free, residents must pay to have their trash picked up. That way, people will be more willing to throw away only what is absolutely necessary. UK-based G24 Innovations is bringing electricity to Rwanda using lightweight, durable, and low-cost solar cells. In Chicago, the City Hall’s 20,000 sq. foot rooftop is covered with vegetation to save $25,000 in energy costs. Copenhagen streets bustle with more bikes than cars and have even installed traffic lights especially for its bikers; it also has about 2000 bikes around the city that you can rent for free, within its city limits. The Philippines is starting to show off some if its own environmental innovation. In Makati, a few electric-run e-Jeepneys roam the roads. Eco-tourism is beginning to take off in the Philippines with 32 key sites, but it should be encouraged to go much farther. With all the dazzling natural landscapes that span the Philippines, the archipelago could easily become one of the world’s new tourist hot spots, showing that going green can also be very profitable. There are other avenues to seek environmental solutions, such as solar energy, hybrid cars, carbon cap-and-trade, and more efficient vehicle standards. With the looming oil shortage in the not-so-distant future, innovators in the renewable energy field will be in extremely high demand. The trend to “go green” in wealthy nations has also created a market for organic, sustainable, and carbon-free goods, even at high prices. The Philippines has the potential to once again become an economic heavy-hitter while also saving the earth, but only if it makes the environment a priority for everyone. Filipino citizens, whether they live in tiny farming communities or the ritziest neighborhoods in Makati, must connect with the land rather than take it for granted. One day, you won’t have to fly to Bacolod to see dazzling nature in its finest; you’ll just need to step outside of your urban apartment. *Lauren is an intern at Ashoka.