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Last Dec. 23, we held a special forum for the ‘A Dose of Hope’ together with our last Mentor Me Online for 2020. It was a memorable moment as we were joined by some of our partners from the private sector that made the first batch of vaccine possible and those that are making the second batch possible. It was also a special moment for me as it was the culminating episode for our Mentor Me Online. I can’t wait to host it again for our entrepreneurs in 2021.
Looking back, I remember how I got to this place and how it is mostly through my father’s mentorship, Joecon, that I developed a philanthropic approach in life. Joecon’s life and sacrifices is an everyday inspiration for me. Having secured a leading business enterprise, he did not stop there. His greatest legacy will always be NAMFREL and how he stood against the Marcos dictatorship – risking his life and business at that time.
Through Joecon, I have realized that the true measure of success in life is always beyond personal wealth and more on how you were able to create a better position for others – how you were able to contribute to the betterment of other people. As I wish to follow his lead, Go Negosyo will continue to help Filipinos fight poverty and prosper in the process.
On the program, it was opened by the ever active and present senior adviser of Go Negosyo, Jopin Romero. She provided the details of our monumental signing last Nov. 27 which secured 2.6 million vaccines for our government. In that special forum, I updated everyone about our progress with the second batch, with more than 300 companies already talking to us. This would not be possible without AstraZeneca’s dedication and openness to help our country and I thank the whole team of AstraZeneca for allowing us to order another batch of vaccines for our public and private sectors, they have been so helpful throughout the way.
The speakers for the special forum include Lotis Ramen, country president of AstraZeneca Philippines; Nestor Tan, president and CEO of BDO Unibank, Inc.; Santi Araneta, CEO of LBC Express Holdings, Inc.; Victor Paterno, president and CEO of Philippine Seven Corp., Jose Antonio, founder and chairman of Century properties, Anton Huang, president of SSI Group, Inc., Paolo Borromeo, president and CEO of Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc.; Joval Pantangco, vice president and head of corporate planning at First Philippine Holdings Corporation, Jerome Sarte, vice president and head of human resources at Okada Manila; Susan Cornelio, vice president and head of human resources and administration at GT Capital Holdings, Inc.; and Gerardo Borromeo, vice chairman and CEO at Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc. Let me share with you some of their notable statements:
“The COVID-19 pandemic, I believe, presented us with the challenge that inspired us to come together and deliver a solution to help the Filipino community. That’s what Dose of Hope’ is all about. ‘A Dose of Hope’ initiative exhibits the true Bayanihan spirit of Filipinos, where the national government, the private sector, and AstraZeneca actually came together to create an unprecedented model of securing equitable access to the vaccine supply for our country,” Lotis said.
“We have two basic advocacies around COVID. One is to help the needy and the indigent, and the other was to protect our frontliners…we just wanted to get the vaccine earlier for the country so that we can help those that need it, our medical frontliners, the elderly, and for some of our own frontliners, those that man the branches,” Nestor said, the man who started all of these through a phone call with AstraZeneca.
“A dose of hope, that’s exactly what I felt, a dose of hope. I mean, we cannot move on like this forever, we needed some form of comfortability. We know it’s not going to be the same, but it certainly lifted a lot of weight off people’s back knowing that this vaccine is coming out,” Santi on what he initially felt when he heard about the project.
“Ang paniniwala namin, kung yung tao namin ay safe, ang customer namin ay safe…Kaya nung wala pa ang vaccine, very stringent ang lahat ng protocols sa McDonald’s…Mas okay pa ngayon kasi may vaccine. Yung vaccine talagang yun ang magre-revive ng hope, naniniwala kami na ‘yan yung next level on keeping our people safe,” Margot said.
“At first there’s a lot of uncertainty…but I am more hopeful than I was…I’m glad to be a part of the first wave,” Vic said on joining the project.
“We really jump and took the opportunity to join in our own modest way. Directly to help our practically helpless people and the basic population, the Filipinos,” Jose said on helping through the project.
“Anything that will help us open the economy even more in a safe manner is good not only for us, but also for the country as a whole, and the economy as a whole…we’re very excited to offer this to our employees…that will help normalize things faster,” Anton said.
“We always say in this crisis, all of us are friends and on the same side. Any chance that we can help to collaborate, please count on us, and just so delighted. Kaya po kami sumali, we also realize the importance of the vaccine not only for our employees but also for the community,” Paolo said.
“Bahagi tayo ng isang bayan…we’re part of one humanity, clearly, we’re all in this. We never even have to ask whether there’s competition, that was clear to us from the start, there was a clear moral responsibility to provide whatever support we could give to the Philippines and to our people,” Joval said.
“The government cannot do this alone, it’s a problem that the whole country shares, feels, and experience, that’s why it has to be a concerted effort among all sectors to bring resources, expertise, energies for the sake of each Filipino,” Jerome mentioned.
“Rest assured we’re here at GT Capital as one with the Filipino citizenry and solidly behind the government in all measures and efforts to heal the nation of this devastating pandemic,” Susan stated.
“The only way we will be able to bounce back is if we link up hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, to work together and contribute in whatever small way we can to helping not only heal the nation, but also provide the kind of hope and confidences necessary for us to get back,” Gerardo said.
Also, a mantra that I have carried throughout my life, Gerardo quoted the words of Joecon, “Yes, the Filipino Can!” Indeed, we can. I like to greet my father again a happy 89th birthday. You are my inspiration in all of these, and I will make you proud by continuing your legacy of always wanting a better present and future for our country.