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Holcim to help UN Habitat, TESDA in Marawi rebuild project

September 16, 2019

Leading cement maker Holcim Philippines, Inc. will support a project by the United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN Habitat) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to build new homes for 1,500 families displaced by the conflict in Marawi.       Holcim Vice President for Communications Cara Ramirez shared during the 7th Annual Asia-Pacific Housing Forum organized by Habitat for HumanityPhilippines on July 31 that the company is set to fund masonry training for 300 beneficiaries.      UN Habitat will be responsible for recruiting the beneficiaries from among the residents of identified resettlement sites and coordinating logistics for the project. The TESDA, through its Regional Training Center inIliganCity, will administer the masonry course and certify as skilled workers those who pass.      Ramirez said the partnership with UN Habitat and TESDA is in line with the company’s corporate citizenship campaign, Holcim Helps, which tailors capacity-building support based on the needs of beneficiaries so programs are more sustainable and have a lasting positive impact.      “Holcim Helps focuses our efforts on education, livelihood, and infrastructure programs, which are designed in collaboration with our communities so we can identify the programs that are relevant to them and answers their needs,” she added.       Ramirez shared that Holcim Philippines had extended similar support to communities displaced by a natural calamity such as survivors of Typhoon Pablo in Compostella Valley in 2012 or vulnerable to one as the case of people living near the company’s Davao plant.       The support for masonry trainings were implemented through Holcim’s flagship Galing Mason program, which equips beneficiaries with skills that allow them to contribute to the rebuilding of their homes and provides them options for livelihood.       Ramirez shared these as part of her talk on the company’s efforts to contribute to addressing the deficit of quality shelters in the country.       She noted aside from providing quality cement to ensure the durability and quality of shelters being built, Holcim Philippines has also developed new products for specific applications that contribute to improving quality and reducing cost of construction.      “For example, local developers have grown to embrace masonry cement, which is better for finishing applications and more affordable than general purpose cement. While cement only accounts for roughly 10% of building costs, the savings from using the right cement can still help developers manage costs while also delivering quality shelters for their customers,” she said.      A biennial conference organized by Habitat for Humanity Philippines, the Asia-Pacific Housing Forumgathers both public and private stakeholders engaged in finding solutions for inadequate shelter issues and promoting affordable housing as a driver of economic growth. For this year’s forum, the newly formed Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development wasthe content partner.

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Strengthening Business Sector-Academe-Government Collaboration Thru Orobest Innovation Program

September 16, 2019

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The Optimizing Regional Opportunities for Business Excellence through Science, Technology, and Innovation (OROBEST) is a regional program that enhances industry productivity and competitiveness through the generation and adoption of scientifically-developed technologies.        This program is a pilot endeavor of the Oro Chamber in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-X), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-X), USAID – Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE), and the academic institutions in Region 10.        According to Dr. Irene Floro, president of the Oro Chamber, “We have this innovation program in order to serve the technology innovation needs of the business establishments in our locality. We are tapping our local universities in the region that has the capacity to provide these answers through their research departments and technology centers..”      After its successful launching last July 11, OROBEST Program Team conducted technology needs assessment with the small and micro-enterprises within the region as well as inventory of commercial and potential technologies from the academe.      “At the moment, we are currently reaching out and prioritizing the small and micro enterprises who may have the needs to improve their technologies,” Queritess Queja, Executive Director of the Oro Chamber said.      Last September 10, a Consultation with the Business Sector and Academic Institutions was held at Limketkai Luxe Hotel which identified the challenges of these sectors in terms of collaboration. The consultation also determined how these sectors can further strengthen their partnerships towards technology development and innovation.       With the positive results of the Consultation among these sectors, the Oro chamber- OROBEST program will again hold a series of activities on September 18-20, 2019, such as, Innovation Talk, Ideation and Project Design Workshops.

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Haven within a Township: Pueblo de Oro Urban Rainforest Protects CDO’s Biodiversity

September 16, 2019

TREES mater to all of us. Trees provide shade, mitigate floods, absorb carbon dioxide, filter air pollution, and provide habitats for birds, mammals and other plants. The rich biodiversity within a rainforest is also incredibly important to the well-being of humans and of the planet. In an effort to preserve the existing flora and fauna in its 400-hectare Township in Cagayan de Oro, Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation (PDO) signed in 2005 a memorandum of agreement for the first Urban Rainforest in the Philippines with the ICCP Group Foundation, Inc., the Bukidnon local government, and the Department of Natural Resources (DENR). Pueblo de Oro started by planting more endemic plant seedlings, or “wildlings”, sourced from the rainforests of Mt. Kitanglad and other nearby mountains in Bukidnon. By propagating them in areas such as the ridges and knoll of the Urban Rainforest, native animal species were encouraged to build their nests and thrive.      In the years since the project kicked off, PDO has sought and joined forces with other partners and agencies in its efforts to preserve the Urban Rainforest to welcome and nurture the species that settled in the Township.      The Pueblo de Oro Urban Rainforest is a 40-hectare rainforest in the heart of Cagayan de Oro’s growth area, abundant with different plants animals. “Having a township wherein trees are abundant is not just for aesthetic purposes, but also benefits the species living within the area,” said PDO President Prim Nolido.      “And for our residential projects, the trees also reduce the urban heat island effect through evaporative cooling and reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches parking lots, houses and other open areas,” he added. Preserving biodiversity      The grasslands and creeks in the forest are home to numerous species of animals – from small insects to beautiful flights of birds. There are at least 20 species of birds that can be found within the Township. They have been seen taking flight over the combination of grasslands and woodlands in the area, including different breeds of Kingfishers and the Grass Owls, which are decreasing in number because of their loss of home.      These are among the flora and fauna that the Pueblo de Oro Urban Rainforest has been protecting and preserving for more than 14 years. “It is a reality that our wildlife is affected by the loss of its natural habitats. PDO has made it its mission to protect these endemic species and eventually be able to multiply them,” explained Nolido.      The Brahminy Kite, for example, has been spotted in the Township, especially on the fairways of the golf course near the lakes. These brown and white raptors nest in tall trees on wooded slopes. They are also spotted taking thermals – or rising hot air – found in ridges in Hillsborough Pointe, Philamlife Village, and Golden Glow Village. This hot air gives the kites lift on their wings and allows them to glide for long periods. Community involvement The Company’s employees and the community play a part in the continuous effort to develop the rainforest through regular tree planting activities. Thousands of seedlings have been planted since the launch of the urban rainforest and it continues on until this day.      More recently, PDO employees were joined by the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, represented by members of the Laudato Si and Faith and Light communities, parishioners from the St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy of Pueblo de Oro who have heeded Pope Francis’ call to “Care for Our Common Home”.      Cacao seedlings distributed by Cagayan de Oro’s Agricultural Office were planted during the activity, which also aims to establish an instructional and pilot nursery, products of which would be dispersed to constituent farmers.      To underscore the efforts of its employees and most especially of the communities in the Township, PDO’s Community Relations Unit assists in the preparation of their project proposals for their livelihood projects. This follows the principle that preservation and expansion can only be done if the communities have viable and sustainable livelihood. Watershed protection      Coupled with the efforts of PDO to preserve and nurture the urban rainforest, the protection of watersheds is also a part of their commitment to the care of the environment. Protecting the watersheds promotes sustainable agriculture, ecological security and water resource preservation.      Giant bamboo and mahogany seedlings were planted by employees along the Calaanan Creek to help protect the soil in the Iponan Watershed, of which it is a part, and prevent it from washing downstream. Maintaining a forest cover as well as following environmentallyenhancing practices leads to a sustainable watershed.      People often think of ‘land-based’ climate solutions or nature as being something that’s far removed from the urbanism that more than half of the population lives in. But forests can be the unseen heroes of natural climate solutions where green spaces provide health and community benefits as well as shelter us from the full effect and impacts of climate change.

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Dealing with a Black Sheep

September 16, 2019

I highlighted in my last column the word “elephant” suggesting that the issue or problem is so big and so heavy that no one wants to confront it or try to move it.      These “elephants” eventually become embedded in how the business operates and how family members interact at all levels. When ignored, a very large problem will continue to shadow whatever successes the family business has achieved and when the issues become emotional and highly charged, they can compromise the business and split the family apart.      For this article, instead of a black sheep, I will use “Fredo” as the “elephant in the room”.      Having a “Fredo” in the family is a result of inconsistencies that are far and wide. Fredo as a family member grew up with values such as unconditional love, being nurtured and equality among siblings while expectations of “Fredo” as a business manager or employee centers on performance, meritocracy and accountability.       Prof. Kimberly Eddleston explained it succinctly, “When this logic (of love and equality) transfers to the business, however, it can be dangerous since it encourages the family to compensate for the weaknesses and failings of family members and to forgive indiscretions.”      While it is indeed difficult for a family business leader to initiate change, it will always start with a firm resolve of separating the family and the business.       As part of my governance advocacy, every next generation family member interested to join the family business must demonstrate that they have something of value to contribute to the business. In short, the family member must apply just like any employee and be deserving of the employment.       We are aware that not all family members are capable, therefore I encourage leaders to resist the urge of including all family members in the business. Guaranteed employment may have been the practice of the founding generation but the growing complexity and the increasing number of family members have made it unwieldy to manage the family and the business.       To operationalize these initiatives, the enterprise must also invest in HR consultants and professional managers so they can formulate “best practices” policies and introduce an environment that promotes accountability, transparency and consequences for bad behaviors.      I am suggesting a few rules to avoid or deter a “Fredo” from creating problems for the family business: Avoid hiring a “Fredo”      Develop and communicate rules of entry and exit for family members      With the guidance of an HR consultant, establish minimum standards for entry such as education level and years of experience. The rule of “No Nepotism” must apply      Do not create jobs for relatives. Avoid becoming an employer of last resort                                                                           Don’t force family members into the business if they are not interested. You are compromising the business by having demotivated, unfocused, dispassionate employees who happens to share your bloodline and last name Do not reward bad behavior      Kim Eddelston also pointed out several points worth mentioning, “if you feel you must hire a family member with questionable abilities and drive, place him or her in a job where the rewards are based on commission, such as sales.”      She also added that “having clear job requirements tend to decrease the prevalence of “Fredos” since they know what tasks are expected of them and how their performance will be evaluated.      And finally, Eddelston cautioned business leaders by raising the alarm bells regarding this issue: “do not allow family employees to have special privileges. This creates an us-against-them mentality with non-family employees, spurring feelings of injustice. It also encourages a sense of entitlement among family”      (esoriano@wongadvisory.com)

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Virtues most needed today

September 16, 2019

Far from falling into irrelevance or obsolescence, as some people claim, virtues are actually most needed today. And that’s because with the fast-moving and more complicated developments of the times, virtues actually help us properly tackle the challenges of these new developments.      We are actually in urgent need of these stable qualities. We have to debunk the myth that virtues hinder our reactions to the challenges of the times. It is a piece of pre-historic thinking that would consider the virtues as obstacles in our effort to grapple with the new developments.      It’s amazing some people, even the self-proclaimed highly educated people who are supposed to be very scientific in their outlook, still cling to that fiction. Virtues help us not only to facilitate our reactions to these new developments but also to see to it that our reactions are the right ones.      We need to dismantle the bias against virtues as wrongly understood by some people. In fact, these days we should be into some intense campaign to promote the importance, development, and practice of the virtues. This should start in the family, and always reinforced in parishes, schools, offices and everywhere else. They are always relevant. There is nothing in our life where the virtues would be out of place.      For example, the cardinal virtues under which all the other virtues are grouped and which are the hinges of a virtuous life, a life that would resemble us more and more with God who made us to be his image and likeness.      Given the confusing culture of our times where we not only have to distinguish between what is good and evil, but also between competing good options, we really would need prudence to be able to make the right choice.      Justice enables us to give to others, especially God, their due. (cfr. Compendium 318) This virtue is always necessary since we are not supposed to live simply on our own. We always live with others, and we have duties and responsibilities toward them. This virtue will help us avoid falling into self-indulgence and self-absorption.      Fortitude “assures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.” (Compendium 382) Since our life will always involve moves of conquest and defense, we cannot overemphasize the importance of this virtue.      And again, given the complexities of our times, we have to make sure that we are tough and strong enough to tackle the many challenges of the times. Sad to say, many now have fallen into despair precisely because they lack this virtue that will always include a certain sense of optimism despite all the possible mishaps we can experience.      And then we have the virtue of temperance which “moderates the attraction of pleasures, assures the mastery of the will over instincts and provides balance in the use of created goods.” (Compendium 383)      This is a virtue that I would say is most immediately needed, since we are easily carried away by the movements of the flesh as it interacts with the new, fascinating albeit intoxicating things of today’s environment.      This is where we need to have self-discipline and a good sense of restraint and moderation in the use of the new technologies, for example.  If we want to be truly human, let alone, authentically Christian, we need these virtues more than we need food, drink, and air.

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Come on, give me a smile!

September 16, 2019

I keep on writing columns for several papers from all over the world since the early 1980's. Sometimes, while writing, I am indeed not in a good mood. I rewrite and rewrite - and then the moment comes, I am asking myself: "Do the readers of this publication really like to read my columns?"      Anyway, I try my best. It's actually a sweet day today, so sunny, so calm, so bright, it's like the bridal of earth and heaven.  The grandeur  of  God flames out like shining from shook foil. I feel like as the waves make towards the pebbled  shore. An incredible and peaceful Sunday, while writing this piece.      I observed again a multi national couple somewhere in my neighborhood fighting each other. Gosh. Stupid people have an uncanny way of hitting the right nail on the head with the wrong hammer!      Maybe, you are angry also right now, while reading this. You are angry, even for others it's a beautiful day. You are angry? It's okay. We are all battling against one of the most powerful emotions known to man - anger! Anger. A day rarely goes by without us feeling angry. Or,  maybe seldom a days goes by without feeling anger... .      Anger is the main part of our daily life. That's why it's really important to talk about this phenomenon. What is anger, what does it do and how does if affect our lives? Where does it come from and how can we learn to handle it in a constructive instead of destructive way? Only, if the roots of our anger exposed and explained, we can defuse its explosive and dangerous potentials.       As I said earlier, anger is one of the most basic emotions. Everyone can get angry. You and me? Now, later, tomorrow...! It's a feeling of being against something or someone.      Anger is a hostile emotion that sets people against one another, or even themselves. By its nature, anger involves opposition, hostility, hatred and disliked. It happened between Filipinos, and between Filipinos and foreigners as well, living here in the Philippines. It even happened at political levels right nowadays.      Anger, however, is simpler to define than to identity. Emotions of antagonism can take a wide variety of faces. Expressions of anger range from the overt, in-your-face brand of open hospitality to the cold indifference of a silent individual. At times, anger can be felt like an inner fire... .      Millions of defense, not a damned penny for tribute, as Charles Pinkney stated... . Anger between people: the one side remains cold as ice while the opposite plays meek as a lamb. Sige, burn the midnight oil! And what the result at the end? A shadow of doubts remains after each fight getting its origin out of anger.      The silent withdrawal and lack of understanding  and innumerable shortcomings of one or both partners are often an indication that one is angrily punishing the other for not doing things his or her way.      We are all selfish! Yes, me too! That's why we see the cause of anger as something outside of ourselves. Life is unfair! Life is hard! +++      Email me: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit one on of my websites www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or  www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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