Those close to me know that the end of 2013, all of 2014, and the start of 2015 marked my most active time in the Benita & Catalino Yap Foundation. Although I had to withdraw for personal reasons, I still do manage the CSR Learner’s Corner, and as my beloved partner-in-crime and sister-in-arms JoJo Armenta said, we will always be part of the BCYFamily.Hence, I was honored that I should be included in the upcoming book Conversations with the Chairman, where the core individuals of BCYF would share their reflections on BCYF and its advocacy of CSR 3.0 or Personal CSR, as well as their experiences with the Chairman himself, Mr. Antonio “Tony” Yap. The following is a slightly edited version of my reflections for said book – coming soon.
Q: During your experience with BCYF, what have you learned about CSR?
A: I learned to not just dismiss CSR as a pretentious or inadequate social responsibility initiative of large companies – although this was effectively what Dr. Wayne Visser’s study in 2011 said about traditional CSR. This is thanks to Dr. Visser’s, Dr. Frankie Roman’s, and eventually Mr. Tony Yap’s own frameworks and visions about CSR – first, that CSR can be made sustainable and even essential; second, that CSR means so much more than socio-environmental responsibility; and third, that that CSR is not just for business and can – and must – begin with the human individual themself. This third insight I learned through the 3rd Philippine Conference on Research in CSR, which was – quite aptly – the first BCYF event I ever attended and worked in.
I learned that CSR can – and should – serve as a defining framework in our own lives, becoming a guideline or framework as to how we should live daily – hence, “Making CSR a Lifestyle”. Taken from its broadest context, which mirrors the BCYF Vision, Mission, Philosophy, and Values statements themselves, CSR can be translated as a more concrete way of living out the saving “faith” that we as Christians have been taught by Christ – faith with hope, shown through works of love or charity. Coming from a background of Social Enterprise, this is in fact the very thing I have been looking for all these years.
Q: What are the top 3 most valuable insights that the BCYF advocacy of CSR 3.0 taught you?
- That CSR can and should – within a proper perspective, that is, faith in and love for Christ – serve as a principle-driven but individually-oriented framework in our lives down to the most ordinary thing – hence “Doing Ordinary Things Extraordinarily”. Because “Doing Good is Not Good Enough”. Because “CSR is Not Just for Business”. And because “CSR Enhances Human Dignity”.
- It is all about the individual human person and their dignity. It truly is the starting point – not just for the less empowered that poverty-alleviating social entrepreneurs seek to serve, but also for ourselves. We cannot attempt to impose our own models or visions, however grand or effective they may be, on others, without taking into account them as individual human beings, not just one huge group of people to help. Similarly, we ourselves must discover our own dignity – what makes us grow the most, what makes us most attuned to the divine calling to serve. Furthermore, if we do not take care of our common home, we also end up not taking care of other people, as well as all of our children.At the end of the day, it’s all about innate, God-given dignity: not just of and for humans but also of the God-created world we live in.
- It is also all about continuous learning and improvement as we discover further how we can practice good citizenship, how we can be more sustainable, how we can effectively live out our innate responsibilities. We can keep on innovating and finding new ways to keep getting better at lending a hand in building the Kingdom of God on earth – through, of course, our own ways, the ways that were gifted to us by our God.This is in fact a practical yet wide-reaching application of our ongoing sanctification in Christ as Christians. Life itself is a journey of constant evolution, and CSR 3.0 is a vehicle that is very well-suited to take on the rough terrain of the road.
Q: Are there any notable anecdotes that you learned from our Chairman Mr. Tony Yap?
A: Oh, too much for me to list down or recall! Even when I had to leave the Foundation – but not my BCYFamily or my project! – Mr. Yap (or Tatay Tony to me) continues to serve as an inspiration to me and a father figure (I lost my father at an early age). My chief learnings can be divided into philosophical and practical learning.
The most important thing I learned from him – translated very nicely by Noreen Bautista for me – is that we have to make holy everything we do – to offer everything as a living sacrifice to God. It reminded me that, indeed, I am – and should be – living my entire life ad majorem Dei gloriam – for God’s greater glory. What is the point of everything we are doing if we are not doing it for Him?
Furthermore, not giving it our all is actually a sin – we are not utilizing the gifts that God gave us – and therefore not making our acts holy. This was a point I got from Mr. Yap over one of our meetings in the office – our meetings are always infused with life lessons that never fail to enrich our learning.
I also affirmed something that my own mother and my best friend’s mother would always teach us – to keep a low profile and to be simple. Why the need to flash affluence or status? After all, we are directing all the glory to God, and not to ourselves. As children of God and stewards of His creation, we should just quietly do our work, however simple it may be, and silently reflect on the results as an offering to God. This brings to mind an anecdote from Mr. Yap that he would volunteer in his church by sweeping the floor – a high-profile (in Pampanga) businessman doing something as humble as that would say a lot for us.
God created creation so that we could enjoy it. He thus gave us the feelings of joy, of happiness, of beauty, of positivity. Humor, in particular, is a very wonderful gift to us, as it makes everything feel better or at least grant us strength to deal with things around us. Mr. Yap always cracks jokes with us even during meetings, and it always lightens us up – thereby inspiring us more to do God’s work.
As someone who has served across all three sectors – private, public, and non-profit – and has experienced business from both employee and employer perspectives, government, NGOs, and the academe – I would certainly learn so much about work from Mr. Yap as well.
For starters, I learned that my own documentation processes are still wanting – a lot. I learned to see sustainability from a different perspective through documentation, to help ensure that the things we are doing can be handed down and passed on concretely and more easily. A socially responsible business that is not doing well is socially irresponsible, and salient to that is the support that documentation provides.
I also learned, or rather affirmed, that discipline is key to success – not just professionally but in everything. Know what you need to focus on, and focus on it. Know what you can let go of – either for the moment or for good – and let it go. This is in fact a key point of simple living according to God’s principles.
I was inspired to go beyond my comfort zones especially when Mr. Yap would tell me to contact prominent people outside our Foundation. I would have to search the Internet far and wide to look for this person’s contact details and then actually contact them. I felt very nervous as I knew I would be contacting someone of such esteem, but thanks to Mr. Yap, I found the courage to do so.
Wishing you a blessed weekend ahead!