opinion

Ayala's sustainability blueprint (2)

August 26, 2019

Last week,  we wrote about how the Ayala group  has aligned itself to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.        The conglomerate decided to  zero in on  three key areas – 1) marginalization 2) large untapped potential for our human capital, and  3) irresponsible growth leading to long-term environmental damage – where Ayala’s business units can generate  the most significant and lasting  impact.       Here is how  it  works at the  Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).      Cezar “Bong” P. Consing, BPI President, said: “More than just attaining financial returns, BPI strives to achieve sustainability by creating shared value for its clients, shareholders, and society as a whole.       “For BPI, sustainability means providing opportunities for financial wellness for individuals, communities, and businesses from different economic backgrounds, as well as financing geared towards a greener economy and society.”       BPI’s Sustainability Strategy Framework revolves around: 1) financial inclusion and wellness 2) scaling up enterprises 3) sustainability development financing  4) risk-managed delivery infrastructure  5) empowering people and society 6) using  resources efficiently and 7) building trust.       To ensure proper execution of its sustainability  strategy, the Ayala-led bank has created the  BPI Sustainability Office (BSO) - composed of a dedicated team of people whose main objective is to help build  a culture of sustainability among  all unibankers and the wider community. BSO also monitors, measures and reports its sustainability performance to regulators.       Maricris L. San Diego, Executive Director of BPI Foundation and the bank’s Chief Sustainability Officer, elaborates on BPI’s initiatives:       “We have a Sustainable Development Finance group which supports SDG  and Renewable Energy projects such as solar power, biofuel projects, wind energy as well as green buildings.       “BPI promotes investments in businesses, industries, and projects that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).       “We do this in the form of loans, capital raising, leasing arrangements, technical support, and client education.       In 2017, the bank financed Php 201.8 billion projects identified to directly contribute to the SDGs. This  more than doubled the following year.        According to Bong Consing: “As of end 2018, BPI had P170 billion in outstanding loans  for agribusiness, P197 billion in outstanding loans that promote sustainable urban and countryside development, and  P126 billion in outstanding loans for renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate resilience.”       San Diego adds:      “We are again embarking on a Climate Risk Assessment  Study to assess risks and vulnerabilities of key cities around the country as well as their adaptive capacity. This will be done with the WWF as our partner. We will also engage LGUs, the private sector, business chambers and the constituents. This will run for 4 years, starting 2019, and will cover 16 cities.”       Financial inclusion is a key pillar of sustainability. “We support livelihood and entrepreneurship through BPI Direct BanKo (a wholly-owned subsidiary) which supports self-employed micro-entrepreneurs. BanKo is set to reach 300 branches nationwide by the end of 2019. We also support SMEs through BPI’s Business Banking.”       “All these are part of BPI’s financial inclusion thrust aimed at ensuring that 25 per cent of the unbanked sector can have access to  BPI’s products and services,” San Diego said.      For its part, BPI Foundation supports MSMEs through livelihood interventions (BPI Tech Voc and Show Me Teach Me Program) as well as social entrepreneurs through capacity building, and through social, intellectual and financial capital.       San Diego explains another linchpin of sustainability:      “We are embarking on a bank-wide digitalization program to future proof the bank and to provide efficiencies and conveniences for our various stakeholders.”      Through different engagement projects, BPI endeavors to build a culture that encourages practicing a sustainable lifestyle and workplace.  Among these initiatives are : 1) learning sessions on sustainability  2)  sustainability exposure trips  3) recyclables and refillable fairs   (BPI partnered with Globe to help  build schools in Aklan through recycling of donated phones.)  4) SDG 101 (where unibankers are drilled on the UN Sustainable Development Goals)  5) campaigns to reduce electricity, water and paper consumption in the workplace  6) intensive leadership training for identified next generation leaders  and 7) adoption of best practices in the work place,  including flexible work schedules and offsite work hubs closer to home.      Note: Feel free to share the foregoing via Facebook, Twitter and/or Linked-In.

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Former Foreign Secretary Yasay arrested

August 26, 2019

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge…” (Psalm 16:1, the Holy Bible). -ooo-      FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY YASAY ARRESTED: As I was writing this column for August 22, 2019, I chanced upon a Facebook post by former Foreign Affairs Secretary and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Perfecto Yasay Jr., saying he was arrested by the police on account of a warrant of arrest which the Manila Regional Trial Court issued against him.      In his post, Yasay (or Jun to his friends and close associates) clarified that the warrant of arrest against him involved a criminal case against officials of the defunct Banco Filipino where they are being accused of having committed bank anomalies from 2003-2006.      According to Jun, he is not going to post bail right away, and would prefer to tay in jail, until he is able to be brought to the judge of the Manila Regional Trial Court, Branch 10, who issued the warrant, to contest what he said was the injustice in his inclusion as an accused in the case. His point is that, he joined Banco Filipino only in 2009, or three years after the alleged bank anomalies were committed. -ooo-      “I DID NO WRONGDOING”---YASAY: The arrest (and looming detention) of Mr. Perfecto Yasay Jr. (who was formerly Foreign Affairs Secretary of President Duterte and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman of former President Fidel Ramos) is sure to send shockwaves in the legal community. The fact is that, for lawyers like Jun, they would know that a warrant of arrest would be coming in the criminal cases being handled by them.      The reason is that, no warrant of arrest will issue to arrest an accused in a criminal case right away. What would come out first is a resolution by the prosecutor (or by the Department of Justice itself) which directs the filing of a criminal case against an accused. Once that resolution is issued, the case would then be filed in court.      The filing of the criminal case in court would then require the judge to study whether there was sufficient basis for its filing. After that study, the warrant of arrest would then be issued. For lawyers who are engaged in daily court battles, they would exert extra effort to monitor what is happening to the case of their clients so that, even before the warrant is issued, they could already post bail for them, thereby allowing them to evade arrest. -ooo-      JUN YASAY EXHIBITS DEEP FAITH IN GOD: In the case of former Foreign Affairs Secretary and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Perfecto Yasay Jr. however, it would seem to me that he would be fighting for his position that he could not have been involved in any bank fraud which were found to have been committed between 2003-2006 since he was not with the bank (Banco Filipino) yet during those years, he having joined it only in 2009.      This promises to be a big legal battle involving Jun Yasay. From where I sit, I know that somehow, the basis with which he was included an accused in the Banco Filipino case by the Department of Justice would have to be scrutinized carefully, especially with his claim that he was not with the bank yet during the time.      I do not wish to deal here any further on whether Jun is right or not in his position, for this would already be sub judice. But here is one thing I can say about Jun (with whom I ran as a senatorial candidate in 2004 under Aksiyon Demokratiko of then Sen. Raul S. Roco): he is righteous in his ways, whose faith is rooted in the Word of God, the Bible, and who makes it a point to obey God’s commands every second of his life. -ooo-      REACTIONS? Call 0977 805 9058, 0918 574 0193, 0933 8251308, or my Messenger account in Facebook, Melanio Lazo Mauricio Jr. Or you could email me at batasmauricio@yahoo.com, mmauriciojr111@gmail.com, or send your comments or queries at www.facebook.com/attybatas.

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Feng Tse! Or Car Feng Shui!

August 26, 2019

Tse is the chinese word for car, even finding its way into Pilipino language as kotse!      Yes, you may design your car for luck with feng shui for car called Feng Tse (pronounced as fung tse). Just remember too, its not the car that can be unlucky for you but fellow passengers! Or driver. So have it feng shuied accordingly completely!      Just remember, the evolution of cars derive from horses (the first mobile transport that outdid cattle, carabaos). No wonder your car has horsepower?      Most of the tips below can also apply to other vehicles. From motorcycles, tricycle, golf cart, trucks, jeepney, hummer, yes, even boats and planes inclusive of helicopters.      So let us zoom in on lucky car designs:      - First choose your lucky color when buying a vehicle. Avoid compromising this at any cost.      Urban legend reality feng shui in Philippines historically leads us to the compelling story of now taipan JCI Senator Gino Baltao, an Atenean who after our first feng shui session never looked back to his school blue color and instead became a green convert like the rival school. Til now he keeps all his cars in green color going to the extent of repainting them for uniformity of luck and continued progress! So if you want to find the only green Toyota Camry in the world as well as the latest APEC preloved BMW in green, see his garage!      - Choose a lucky plate number for your car. Here is the best number: 128 or 1288 or rambled in any order. Next in the order of luck and benefits are 168 or 1688, only third is the ever popular 888 or 8888. Never have a 4 or 7 in any plate combination. 4 means death. 7 means disharmony and conflict.      - Never or avoid or have a geomancer cure if already bought, a car with a jaguar, lion or tiger or any cat maneating animal logo!      Some Jaguar car owners are advised to park it in their garage at home and office with the head pointing outward not toward the building for peace of mind. ff not a politician, take out or avoid lion logos.      - Remove any 4 x 4 sticker markings on a vehicle (means death times death) or simply inviting many deaths. But do not solve it by humor say like putting an equals sign and the number 16!      - Choose lucky accessories or decor or decals accordingly. As usual avoid lions or tigers inclusive of stuffed toys, Merlion souvenir, or any octagon, triangular, diamond, x and cross except Catholic crucifix or rosary.      - To all, it is best to put a Chinese 168 or yee lu faat sticker, normally available from automotive sections in mall stores or sticker kiosks. So cheap from 30 pesos to 150 for large ones. It attracts protection and prosperity all the way!      - Beware of contrasign logos in car versus your feng shui sign or persona. An urban highend car dealer is renowned to have gone bonkers in business for the feng shui reason that he is a Rat sign and he deals with Ferraris which has a Horse logo. This is bad luck and fortune for him. (Similar to say Rat ladies having Hermes bags with horse inspired logo!)      The above luck chargers will add mileage to one's car(s) so long as annual feng shui maintenance check is also done. Remember as many people prosper, they forget feng shui guidelines and tend to be careless. Just say one suddenly wins Lotto and buys a Ferrari forgetting that he or she is a year of the Rat person!      Be aware of bad signs for the year, like for 2020 it's rat and horse, so say, mustangs or Ferrari wiillhave to be garaged only not used to avoid misfortunes or mishaps!      So have a lucky car by design! The key is in your hands now.      Zoom laughing all the way to the bank! Just make sure the logo of your bank is not a lion or tiger! Beep! Beep!!!!! Happy motoring with safety and prosperity all the way!

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Ayala's sustainability blueprint

August 20, 2019

Over many years now, the Ayala Group has been, in many ways,  sensitive to issues relating to improving human lives and protecting the environment.        When the United Nations came up four years ago with the  2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Ayala group  institutionalized  its own  blueprint aligning  itself  to the global framework that is fast changing the face of capitalism.       Recall that  the United Nations identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),  “17 very interdependent goals  which,”  according to Peter Bakker of   World Business Council for Sustainable Development or WBCSD, “describe the future that we want.”       The SDGs, as generally understood, “show the way to meet the needs of the present without compromising  the ability of future generations to meet theirs.”       The SDGs are :       1) no poverty   2) no hunger   3) good health and well-being   4) quality education  5) gender equality   6) clean water and sanitation   7) affordable and clean energy  8) decent work and economic growth   9) industry innovation and infrastructure  10) reduced inequality  11) sustainable cities and communities  12) responsible consumption and production   13) climate action   14) life below water   15) life on land  16) peace and justice and strong institutions  and 17) partnerships to achieve the goal.      Ayala Chair  and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (JAZA) explains the conglomerate’s own initiative which  dovetails with the UN SDGs.       “We designed our long term sustainability blueprint that laid out actionable and measurable targets as we  address critical environment and development gaps that our country faces today.”       JAZA identified three areas  where Ayala believes its businesses (across real estate, banking, telecommunications, water, power, industrial technologies, infrastructure, healthcare, and education)  can generate the most significant and lasting impact.       These are:  1) marginalization  2) large untapped potential for our human capital, and 3) irresponsible growth leading to long-term environmental damage.       “The Ayala Sustainability Blueprint  will enable us to be  more deliberate in monitoring and evaluating our sustainability targets and help us allocate resources to these initiatives, ” JAZA added.       Recently,  Ayala was  invited to join the Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development or WBCSD.       WBCSD is a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.       Its member companies come from all business sectors and all major economies, representing a combined revenue of more than USD $8.5 trillion and with 19 million employees.       Ayala  recently  stepped up its efforts to cascade its sustainability  blueprint and  get all its business units and stakeholders  all on the same page.        Last week, Ayala convened a milestone gathering -  its First Integrated  Corporate Governance, Risk Management and Sustainability Summit .       TG Limcaoco, the Ayala group’s CFO and Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) said the summit  was specially designed  for   board directors, senior leaders, and employees across Ayala’s various business units, as well as guests from its business partners, guests from government, civil society and the academe.       “We have to get them to buy in to what the Ayala group is trying to achieve, ” Limcaoco said.       Fernando Zobel de Ayala (FZA), President and COO, summarized  the key messages to Ayala group executives and stakeholders:       -These interconnected disciplines – governance, sustainability and risk management – should now be  part and parcel of the group’s strategic planning, decision-making  and investment processes.      -There is a  strong correlation between sustainability and financial performance.       -A board’s responsibility now goes beyond fiduciary duty and should encompass  environmental, social and  governance (ESG) considerations.       -The board must now be held accountable for its sustainability performance and not just financial returns.       --“Impact investing” has gained so much traction in recent years, driven by market dynamics such as technological disruption and customers rewarding sustainable practices.       -Going forward, creating a separate P&L for environmental metrics is something Ayala will look into.       -The new rule from the SEC mandating the submission of sustainability reports must be considered as another opportunity for listed companies, such as Ayala,  to communicate their sustainability performance properly.      -ESG  must not be just a buzzword. It must become a way of life.       Note: Please feel free to share the foregoing via Facebook, Twitter and/or Linked-in.

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Lucky walls

August 20, 2019

Do not hang a water feature painting carelessly on any wall. So too with art featuring headless bodies or morbid scenes of poverty and darkness! Why? Every wall has a significant meaning in feng shui. It can affect one's health, prosperity and happiness depending on what you decorate or even paint it!      What inspired me to write on this topic was a recent feng shui emergency call from an ardent client who due to aging suddenly had osteoporosis. But beyond that, surprisingly it began to spread down to her feet (both feet in successive days apart) with miniscule fractures to boot in excrutiating painful angst!      So a feng shui health visit check up on her condo revealed two bad feng shui additions on her condo wall decors: a fiery red painting on the the southwest wall which burns her health and adds more metal element to her persona let alone another metal artwork in her northeast wall in the den that triggered the acupuncture like pains with the agony of several crosses in angst so to speak.      So we corrected the wall decors, literally it is feng shui art decor therapy. The metal artwork entitled "kros" by a French artist was changed to a subtle wood carving of a blossoming camella flower to signify regeneration. The fiery red painting in good riddance, can be traded off with the painter for a more feng shui friendly one!      After a feng shui decor makeover, the next day she texted that her pains are gone and especially her back pain as well as first foot steps on both fractured feet are now gently comfortable! And her wellbeing mindset is back to normal positive unlike her lifeless posture in pain three days back.      This is a clear example of what a bad feng shui wall decor on the wrong wall can do to one's health and wellbeing!      Another surprise this week was upon doing feng shui maintenance to the condo of another client, lo and behold she had a masterpiece of a would be national artist but that of a headless geisha!      This is a no no in feng shui, even in retail shops having headless mannequins!      So it was decided she trade it in for an upgraded art piece done this time by a corroboration of two national artists!      To cut the long threatening stories short here are the best decors for every wall direction to follow::      East - landscapes, seascapes, forests, fields, or green dominated abstract art works even sculptures or figurines of value. Wooden materials enhance luck on these walls too. Any shade of green wall will be auspicious. Never red or fiery symbols.      West- white color and metal objects like silver and gold or brass can be lucky here. Never green or red on this wall.      North - black or blue or gray fits this wall, on artworks or the wall itself. Best to have tortoise, turtle or water featured art for career prosperity and finances. Never have fire and red objects here.      South - best for fiery artworks with brilliant reds, tangerines or rust orange. Same with wall colors for stimulating and attracting fame depending on your chosen career. Politicians and show biz celebrities take note. Never have blue or black on this wall. As it douses fire being water colors!      Northeast and Southwest as well as Center walls are earth elements thereby lucky with yellows, earth tones and terra cotta hues to reinforce grounding. Never have blue or black or red lest your erode health causing lung problems or heart even cardiac deaths!      Northwest direction is metal inspired like the West. Southeast is wood element like the East.      A bank treasurer now president once requested me to soften his feng shui. After putting a Great Wall of China decor behind his back, he became so popularly authoritative in the eyes of all personnel that he was already dubbed as the Little Emperor of their bank. After minor feng shui remedy, he was instructed to sell the bank and thus began his new chapter in life as a bank president for another bank!      A gay couple summoned me once, their predicament: a Ninoy black painting from which a ghost comes out. Yes, there was a remedy without selling the precious painting. As for now it is a secret lest fakers feast on this article! They regained their harmony and peace at home every night and day thereafter.      Now you know the secret feng shui luck inspired by each wall directions! Meantime, a house is not built with walls and beams alone, make it a home by proper feng shui of each wall with your love and dreams. It's influential, wall energy, yes, wall by wall it impacts on your wallet!

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The Ceres house is divided (Part 3)

August 16, 2019

President Lincoln once said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Even that expression first appeared in the Bible, specifically Matthew 12:25, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city and household divided against itself will not stand."      In my years hammering deals by way of mediation and pushing governance amongst ASEAN family businesses mired in conflict, I have encountered dozens of firms suffering from short life expectancies due in part because of senseless infighting. High net worth families are clueless on what governance really means and their lack of pre-agreed rules of engagement (protocols, governance structures) and a well-planned succession plan have become the biggest thorn in family relationships.      When the founder dies or becomes incapacitated, family businesses fall apart as power struggles and conflicts erupt over inheritance and disagreements over the way the business is run and manage. This is a vicious cycle that every family business must recognized and address immediately. My advise is for founders and leaders never to take governance for granted while they are still in control. It's not about Money      Family feuds in Asia, and elsewhere in the world, have always been about money, lots of money. Although estate fights are commonly perceived to be just about money, there is almost always more to a family war than just the money. Many of these disputes are sewn by seeds of jealousy, greed, thirst for control, bitterness, hatred, and hurt feelings resulting from real or perceived preferential treatment by a parent. The case of the Yanson family, operators of the biggest group of bus companies in the Philippines, should serve as a warning to family enterprises. Founder apathy has its price.      In a study initiated by our research group at W+B Family Business, there is a 75% to 80% certainty of throwing away the business due to founder neglect or indifference in pursuing governance. Losing a business can mean conflict among siblings/branches resulting to a decimated ownership and/or a sellout where ownership falls into the hands of a few members. Evidently, any family breakdown primarily points to a long standing sibling rivalry ending with a power grab. All these culmination events can strike a death knell to the enterprise immediately right after the demise of the leader. The Italians have a fancy term for it, "dale stalle alle stele alle stalle" (from stalls to stars to stalls). All About Ownership and Control      The ongoing dispute is all about ownership and control of the bus empire. When the conflict erupted last month with the ouster of Leo Rey as company president, Roy was quoted in media as saying that "these issues would not have happened had his mother respected what his father, Ricardo Yanson Sr. did when he apportioned his estate among the six while he was still alive."      Roy went on to add, "As majority shareholders, the four siblings had control over the board and whatever the board decides on, the rest of the management, including Leo Rey who remains as a director, and its employees are mandated by law to follow."      From the pronouncements made by Roy, it appears that ownership had been passed on to the siblings. I can only speculate that the decision to pass ownership to the offspring was primarily to reduce the relatively high estate taxes at that time. Many have considered their estate planning completed when they have selected some transfer of wealth approach with their accountant or lawyer. Plainly, it does not work that way. And that single action by the founder, I believe, has caused untold pain and suffering to the surviving family members.      To be continued...

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