opinion

Homecoming

August 30, 2019

It’s always a happy occasion or, at least, one that is full of emotions. And even if we have mixed feelings about it, we would still look forward to a homecoming, since it reminds us of the past, of a sense of togetherness and shared experiences, of our origins. Homecomings are actually a necessity for us. Its immediate effect is undoubtedly one of joy and thanksgiving as we reconnect with familiar faces.      It brings back memories, insights, precious lessons learned, and many other things, happy and sad, that occurred between the past and the present. The road to the present, marked with lights and shadows, has given us a good, meaningful journey. Life may have led us to different and separate ways, but we are still together as one family, one clan, one class.      And regardless of how our accounting of things turns out, whether it is in the black or in the red, a win or a loss in human terms, we would still be happy and thankful because what matters is that, once upon a time and in varying periods of time, we have lived with others who are close to us and with whom we have some intimate relations—our parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, classmates, teachers, friends, etc.      We can never fully account the value they have added to our life. We know by some mysterious ways that they have helped in shaping us the way we are today. We know that God is always in control of things and would know how to derive good even from evil. And so, even if we have experienced some negative things by the hands of others, we still know that with God everything will work out for the good.      We just have to make sure that our homecomings are not simply an exercise of nostalgia and mere sentimentalism. They, the homecomings, have a significance that is truly important to all of us.      That’s because in the end, they remind us that we all come from God, our Father and Creator. He is the origin of our togetherness, the pattern, the power and also the end or purpose of our unity.      The homecomings are a good reminder that we are and should be together in our continuing journey toward our ultimate end who is God himself, who made us to be his image and likeness, and wants us to share his very life. Yes, the homecomings remind us that we need each other, and that we are, with God, responsible for one another.      The homecomings are a good reminder that we need to help one another in this universally common journey of ours. They remind us that there is a continuum among the past, the present and the future, and eventually, eternity with God. Our life here on earth is the time God uses to carry out his delicate task of creating and redeeming us.

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Before the next teardrop falls

August 30, 2019

WITH ‘little trouble’ expected to come by, Malacanang  has ordered the military to end now -- and not tomorrow -- the decades-long communist insurgency problem of the country.       The Duterte  administration has slammed anew the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA)  for allegedly taking advantage  of the ‘kid-glove treatment’ of the government through the years.      President Duterte has again lashed out at the communist rebels (now tagged by the government as terrorists), saying the countryside  is  now infested with communist ‘parasites’.       Duterte had sought to end the country’s insurgency problem shortly after he assumed office in 2016, but government talks with communist rebels have failed to reach any conclusion.      In 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 60 which formally terminated negotiations with communist rebels.       A month later, he signed Executive Order No. 70 ordering the creation of a task force to end local communist armed conflict.      That said, the government has no choice but to crush the Joma Sison-led communist-cum- terrorist organization   as soon as possible before the next massive teardrops will fall in the countryside.      It has been said before – and until now—that the demands of the communists-turned-terrorists are impossible and   absurd to the hilt.       Its self-styled leader,  Joma Sison  have been living  in Utrecht  in opulent lifestyle  while  his comrades on the ground suffer fighting for a lunatic cause -- that  of toppling the so-called ‘imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism’ of this country.      To advance their  foothold,  Sison and his clique has been on  recruitment binge, targeting among others the so-called ‘the harassed and the oppressed’ particularly members of indigenous tribes in general and students in particular.      Lately, NPA recruitment has again penetrated in schools   and universities which alarmed authorities amid the reported spread of student ‘activism’ now  happening  in the academic community.      The recruitment process  starts with selecting prospective student-leaders who are smart, idealistic and passionate about a cause.   NPA cadres would then teach  student-recruits  about communism and further indoctrinate them about activism.       An invitation to join rallies would come next,  and later a baptism of fire would  follow by joining the mainstream armed group in hit-and-run firefights with  government troops.      With over 50 years of fighting the government, the insurgency problem has become a cancer – an incurable social problem  only high heavens would tell when it will vanish from the ends of the Earth.       Meantime, the Duterte order to crush once and for all these insurgents-turned terrorists depends on how the military would be able to totally extinguish them head-on soonest possible time.      Again, to put an end to communist insurgency lies a dogma of  uncertainty, raging as it were like the wildfires of the Amazon forests – persistent and demonizing at the expense of the larger number of peace-loving citizens of this battle-scared country.      Before the next teardrops will fall,   a handful of prayers maybe a good antidote to the impending ‘little trouble’ ahead of us.(Editor’s note: The writer was a student leader-recruit in the late 70s in the boondocks of Bukidnon, having been ‘indoctrinated’   for one whole week in a church convent in Kalasungay, Malaybalay before taking an immersion assignment in Maligaya, a remote barangay in Bukidnon. He eventually quit the movement after his leaders ‘disappear’ one after the other).

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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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