Here are a few stories of how companies and individuals did their share in reaching out to those in need during these pandemic times. “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” of ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI) was immediately mobilized and they have been distributing relief goods in spite of having only a skeleton force.

Various donations were given to a government agency (P100 million from the Lopez Group to the Department of Transportation for an excellently equipped quarantine facility for 250 or more COVID-19 patients with mild cases) and to other groups. Employees also did their share in helping out and planting seeds of hope in their own small way.

First Philec ‘Shepherds’

When a work from home (WFH) arrangement was rolled out in the Lopez Group on March 17, 2020, employees immediately went home not expecting that it will be months before they can go back to their offices. Nevertheless, the presence of management was still felt through regular social media, emails, teleconferences and even phone calls.

First Philec adopted the stewardship concept where an assigned “shepherd” looks after a certain team and does daily contact tracing and household monitoring to regularly remind employees of the importance of staying home and to check their health status as well as their family members.’ Human resources personnel were available online for them to answer employee concerns, inquiries and questions, while answers to frequently asked questions are emailed and posted on social media for easy reference.

For its crisis business practices, First Philec was cited by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines in its “Business Cases, Business Cares” series on April 10, 2020.

FPH-First Gen: Hundreds and Thousands Go a Long Way

Through First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH)First Gen Corporation’s employee volunteering program, they were able to collect and donate P534,300 for personal protective equipment (PPE), food and care packages for front liners, care organizations and communities through 26 institutions. They also extended financial assistance to the families of their three employee volunteer scholars, reported Janice Dugan of First Gen.

The organizations they helped include Batangas Medical Society, P34,500; University of the Philippines (UP) Medical Foundation, P54,000; Ateneo DREAM Team, P35,800; Philippine General Hospital Medical Foundation, P22,500; Philippine Heart Center, P13,000; Bicol University College of Medicine, P10,000; The Medical City, P12,800; UP manininda and jeepney drivers, P10,000; and Northern Samar front liners, P10,000, among others.

The individual employees’ monetary donations, whether in the hundreds or thousands, when pooled together went a long way in helping others. And their help continues.

Three Tranches of Care Kits

Karmela Sarmiento of FIRST School shared how San Juan Small Group, a group of Christian and Catholic individuals who come together for weekly Bible studies, answered the call to action of Saddleback Church. It gave two avenues to help: by providing care kits to those in need and by being a care caller.

Sarmiento’s group chose to give care kits consisting of rice, dry foods, toiletries and other essentials to those who have lost their income due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), including senior citizens, tricycle/pedicab drivers and garbage collectors. They provided three tranches of care kits to the families and communities that they were taking care of.

For Sarmiento, “every need in the world is an open door and an opportunity for us to be God’s instruments of grace and peace. This is why we decided to answer this call.”

Stepping Up to Help PWDs

In the case of Lopez Group Foundation Inc. (LGFI), consultant Faith Bacon’s way of extending a helping hand took place on the afternoon of April 6 when her friend and former neighbor in Cainta, Nelia Ponce of Tahanang Walang Hagdan (TWH), asked for help in soliciting food donations for their 150 to 300 workers and their families.

For 45 years, Tahanang Walang Hagdan Inc., a nonstock, nongovernment organization, has been providing services to persons with disabilities (PWDs). Ponce said that due to the limitations in movement due to the lockdown, TWH did not have access to materials for their livelihood products, which were considered “nonessentials,” thereby halting production. “Without production,” said Ponce, “our workers were already going hungry almost a month into the quarantine.”  LGFI had partnered with TWH for several years when they were allowed to sell their products at the Benpres Building lobby. Bacon knocked on the door of a high school friend who is the CEO of his own company. She also sought the help of another friend, Menchie Silvestre, formerly of AFI and now executive director of Alagang Kapatid Foundation Inc. (AKFI).

Bacon recalls: “The first reply I got from Menchie was that they may not be able to donate food items for 350 pax, which was the request of TWH, and that they were checking their stocks for this. The next was that they might have problems with out-of-Metro Manila operations as TWH is in Cainta, Rizal. I responded with ‘thank you for any help you can extend.’”

On April 15, Bacon received a message saying that Silvestre’s team will attempt to get through to Cainta. Bacon was asked to coordinate with TWH contact persons and the AKFI team that will deliver the donations. The next day, the AKFI team reached Cainta and delivered the donations of rice and food packs to 150 PWDs of TWH.

LGFI usually receives letters of solicitation from various individuals and entities which the foundation would refer to its sister companies like AFI, Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. and the different Lopez companies’ community relations or CSR officers. Most of the time, simply facilitating the airing of the needs of groups like PWDs through DZMM already goes a long way in raising awareness of the plight of the less fortunate and bringing their needs to the attention of the concerned agencies and local government units (LGUs).

EDC Employees Pay It Forward

“EDC’s [Energy Development Corporation] generosity and compassion towards us, the employees, as well as our contractual workers, is overwhelming. Let us pay it forward to those who are less fortunate who may need our help,” said an employee in one of the company’s group threads.

This is a sentiment echoed by many within the organization, as EDC was one of the first companies in the Philippines to implement a WFH arrangement to ensure the safety of employees and their families across the country.

EDC employees launched a fundraising campaign, “Tindog Pilipinas, Dili Mo Namo Pasagdan” (“Rise Philippines, We Will Not Let You Down”), to generate donations that would supply over P200,000 worth of PPE and food packs to healthcare front liners in hospitals in Metro Manila and even in other parts of the country.

The geothermal leader also contributed to the “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” campaign of ABSCBN and AFI. To date, the total amount of donations pooled by the employees of EDC has reached P1.8 million; this is in addition to the P100 million pledged by its mother company, FPH.

Following the first extension of the ECQ to April 30, EDC employees agreed to the delayed release of their merit increases so the funds can be allocated instead to the security guards, housekeeping staff, delivery personnel and drivers across all sites in the meantime.

When COVID-19 started to spread in the Visayas and Mindanao and confirmed cases and patients under investigation started to fill provincial hospitals, EDC’s CSR managers in the company’s renewable energy facilities began coordination with the LGUs for relief operations in March. Several employee-led fundraising campaigns were launched in an effort to provide supplies to the families in EDC’s host areas.

The Negros CSR team launched “Tabang Dumaguete,” with donations from site employees reaching a total of P50,000 to address the needs of the city’s marginal sectors.

The team recently launched another employee fundraising campaign, “Shoulder-to-shoulder,” to supplement the needs of the facility’s daily contractors and their families.

“We continue to express our gratitude for how our company takes care of us employees by paying it forward, by showing our deepest appreciation to the frontline workers who continue to bravely serve the country amid this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Atty. Allan Barcena, EDC CSR-PR head.

The employees’ assistance that was extended to front liners, contractors and the chronically food-insecure in its areas of operation was done in addition to its P12 million worth of committed relief efforts in the form of rice and food donations, container vans for its host LGUs’ temporary quarantine facilities, and supply of masks, thermal scanners, PPE and other items to medical front liners. (Story/Photos by: Frances Ariola)

FPIP, locators form ‘One FPIP Community’

First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP), located in Sto. Tomas and Tanauan cities in Batangas, is home to over 140 world-class businesses and over 67,000 employees.

For the duration of the ECQ, FPIP provided support to locators that continued to operate under the ECQ guidelines while prioritizing the health and safety of all employees inside the park by implementing strict health and safety protocols. To date, there are no COVID-19 cases (suspected or confirmed) in FPIP.

FPIP has likewise taken its cue from its parent company FPH and has committed strong support for its host communities, which continues to this day by way of active engagement with LGUs.

In discussions with St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center and Daniel O. Mercado Medical Center, leading healthcare facilities in the Sto. Tomas and Tanauan areas, it was emphasized that transporting healthcare workers to health facilities was a critical, yet unmet, requirement.

In response, FPIP provided four 20-seater coasters by engaging UBE Express, a professional transport service provider, to allow healthcare workers access to safe, comfortable and reliable transportation in Sto. Tomas and Tanauan as they render their much-needed services. FPIP has pledged to fund transportation operations for these shuttles for one month.

FPIP also partnered with the Association of FPIP Locators Inc. (AFLI) to continue to find ways to provide assistance to its host communities. Both parties jointly announced the launch of One FPIP Community towards this end: “By working together to come to the assistance of our host communities at this time of great need and uncertainly, we can all emerge stronger afterwards,” FPH and FPIP president Giles Puno said as FPIP launched the initiative.

AFLI president Faisal Nadeem also pledged support for the program, saying, “I am in agreement for this proposal to donate and help our neighboring communities through the platform of AFLI. It is a noble cause and we should extend best possible support to local LGUs and communities,  being a responsible corporate citizen.”

Locators continue to pledge contributions, including funding, PPE supplies and medical equipment, through AFLI. (Story/Photos by: Janinna Cynthia Mendoza)

Lopez Inc., Adtel Provide Cameras for Lung Center CCTV Project

On March 30, 2020, Lopez Inc. senior executive vice president Benjamin R. Lopez (BRL) received a letter from Dr. Antonio Ramos, Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) administrative services head, seeking assistance with the retrofitting of the LCP. The 210-bed facility in Quezon City had been designated as one of the COVID-19 quarantine hospitals in Metro Manila.

The LCP planned to renovate some of its wards into a quarantine area and needed CCTV cameras for the project. BRL tapped Adtel Inc. to help the hospital, through LCP head engineer Conrado Panlaqui, with the request.

The LCP had renovated three wards on two floors in its main building. Each ward has an average of 20 rooms, some of which are large enough to accommodate two patients.

As recommended by Adtel, Lopez Inc. donated a total of 64 high-resolution CCTV cameras, three DVRs with one-month video retention and three CCTV monitors to the LCP for its quarantine area. The monitors were positioned at the nurses’ station so the nurses can check the condition of COVID-19 patients without going into the rooms.

In a message to Lopez Inc., Panlaqui said: “In behalf of the Lung Center of the Philippines, we would like to thank you for your generosity in this time of a national health emergency.”

He added that the new CCTV system will surely “benefit our patients as well as our front liners, the nurses and doctors, against this unseen enemy.