Fellow Executives and Staff-members of the Lopez Group of Companies,
I would like to start by offering my congratulations to all of this year’s winners of the Lopez Achievement Awards. On behalf of all the members of the Lopez Family, and of all the members of the Lopez corporate family, I would also like to thank you for your effort, commitment and passion in turning in a performance that has been adjudged by your peers to have been, not just good, but excellent, a performance that all of us can emulate in our own areas of responsibility.
It is a tall order that we have set for ourselves in the Lopez Group. We have chosen excellence as our overarching goal in everything that we do, and business excellence has a distinct place in our hierarchy of values. We expect excellence, not only in the performance of our jobs, in the conduct of our business and in our interaction with customers, but also in our total attitude and behavior toward society and the environment. We define our businesses to be in the service of the Filipino wherever he or she may be in the world, and we mean it.
There is a reason for this. Businesses are inherently risky activities. When we do them well, then we stand to profit from our activities. But there are never any guarantees of success. We develop strategies and plans, based on assumptions that we make about the environments in which we operate, and we constantly adjust and adapt those plans to the unfolding realities. Well, so do most of our competitors. We try to attract, recruit, train and develop the best people to carry out our strategies and plans. So do our competitors. We employ what we believe to be the technologies and processes best suited to the businesses we conduct. So do our competitors. So, in the end, what differentiates us from our competitors? Why should we feel that we have a better chance than they do to be successful in business?
My father always stressed, as my brother Geny did after him, and as my brother Manolo and I have done as we have taken our turns as heads of the Lopez Group, that our primary motivation for being in business is not profit, or power, or influence, but rather, to serve our society, our people. We do so by understanding their needs and by producing the best products and services that meet those needs. We do so by providing our customers the best value for their money, and by being uncompromising in our quality and in the way we deliver our products and services to them. We do so by conducting our affairs lawfully and ethically. We ensure that we can do this by being the best employers that we can be in the way that we treat our people. And we believe that if we are able to succeed in all of this, then the profits will take care of themselves. And beyond the profits, our survival and longevity will take care of themselves.
Today, we can look to the future with optimism. As many of you know, over the past several years, we have been through the wars, something that, in our family’s history, we’ve had to do from time to time in defense of our values and principles. We did not emerge unscathed from the battles that we had to fight, but we survived with most of our businesses intact and in good condition. In these businesses, we now have stable, proven platforms from which to build an even better future. In media and in the convergence of digital technologies. In clean and renewable energy. In industrial parks that can fully support all the needs of a global manufacturer. In high-end, mixed-use residential and commercial developments that have often set the trend for the rest of the industry to follow, even though we are a relative newcomer to this business.
Just a few weeks ago, the symbolic flames of the 2012 London Olympics were extinguished, marking an end to this global spectacle. For one, long, dramatic fortnight, top athletes from all over the globe competed with one another to decide who could perform best in their respective events. This was the culmination of years of conditioning and preparation by athletes who must put in Herculean effort and sacrifice and endure untold stresses on their bodies and psyches. For them, it is a relentless quest to improve their abilities, to be able to emerge from competition as the best in the world.
We in the Lopez Group seek this level of commitment and preparation, and the passion to be the best in our fields, as individuals, as teams and as companies. We believe in putting in the years of effort to hone our competitive skills and creativity, in preparation for when business opportunities present themselves. We keep in mind our core values as we seek better ways to do things and it helps that, in our journey toward excellence, we try to cheer each other on, to remind each other that we have each other’s backs. Ultimately, this is the Lopez Achievement Awards’ reason for being. To give recognition to excellence and to draw out the best practices from within our group.
Again, I salute the LAA winners for this year, as I salute all the winners from the previous years.
And now, I would like to introduce one final awardee. We have decided to give a Special Award to a very special person. The singular achievements of this special person capture the essence of this Award.
The Lopez Achievement Awards recognize extraordinary accomplishments. They show us that what we might, at first glance, regard as the impossible, are possible after all if you have that peculiar combination of qualities that does not recognize that anything is impossible.
Some time ago, our Special Awardee, while watching television, viewed an elder person’s cruelty to a child and was driven to angry because none of the neighbors bothered to intervene or help. With the critical support of ABS-CBN and other Lopez companies, she set up a foundation whose mission was to rescue children from abuse and deprivation. Today, thousands of children have been rescued from further harm, given shelter, medical attention, and emotional counseling for themselves and their parents.
She realized that micro-entrepreneurs, those who make up what is often referred to as the “underground economy”, were the reason why the Philippines remained resilient to all kinds of financial and economic crises. But the poor and underprivileged had limited or no access to formal credit, and needed training in basic business skills. She led the setting up one of the country’s largest microfinance institutions. It is now focused on teaching entrepreneurs how to become more stable and profitable.
She saw that locally relevant teaching materials, delivered inexpensively through television, could do so much to improve the quality of education, especially for poor pupils. So she set up an e-learning program that has been recognized internationally for its contributions to educating the youth.
She saw how the country’s environmental treasures were being destroyed.. She was particularly disturbed about the deterioration of the La Mesa watershed, upon which millions of Metro Manilans depended for their water supply. She was furious that a private subdivision was allowed to build houses inside the watershed itself and she organized a protest to stop its operations.
She established a nationwide program that saved the La Mesa reservoir. The program made it possible for companies, civic organizations, students and other volunteers to participate in reforesting the watershed. Families and friends have also re-discovered the natural beauty and pleasures that La Mesa Park provides.
She fell in love with the pristine beauty of Palawan but was so concerned of the threats posed by logging and mining firms. So she launched a movement to keep Palawan undisturbed and its tourism industry ecologically sound. When a fellow champion of the environment was murdered by political and business lords, she ran relentlessly after the suspects to the point that they had to flee the country as fugitives. In championing the practice of responsible mining, she has become the target of bullying and abuse from all of those whose interests are served by maintaining the status quo. Yet, she has steadfastly weathered the intimidation and has stuck to her guns, undaunted.
She saw how previous efforts had fallen short in saving the Pasig River, the ancient waterway connecting Laguna Lake and Manila Bay. So she is currently dedicating herself to cleaning up the river and its key tributaries, and relocating thousands of informal settlers along its banks, with the help of countless volunteers.
The relocation site in Laguna, where various government agencies, civil society, and donor organizations collaborate, is becoming a model for sustainable relocation sites for informal settlers. The members of the new community in Calauan, Laguna now have their own houses, electricity and clean water, an elementary school, a church, a skills training center, and a waste management facility.
Our Special Awardee has received some of the most prestigious government and private sector awards here and abroad. I am told that while she appreciates the recognition, she finds more personal fulfillment from the thought that she is helping people who have much less opportunities in life. As she has dedicated her life to saving some of our national treasures, she may not know it, but she is on her way to becoming one of our national treasures herself.
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow employees and friends, I was asked not to mention the name of our special awardee in leading into the VTR presentation that follows, but I really don’t have to mention her name because I am sure you all recognize her. So let me cheat just a little by saying that she is a niece whom I greatly love and respect. You may now play the video.