MAPping the Future

Column in INQUIRER

Our ‘bayanihan’ will propel business as a force for good

written by Mr. RAMON R. DEL ROSARIO, JR. - March 18, 2024

Last November, on the occasion of Phinma’s 67th anniversary, we signed an agreement with De La Salle University’s (DLSU) Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business to build the Phinma-DLSU Center for Business and Society.

I would like to think that we have become one of DLSU’s go-to partners because of our commitment to our mission of building a better Philippines and making lives better, particularly for the underserved in our society. There is much that we at Phinma are certainly proud of: through the years we have produced tons and tons of cement that have built much of our country’s roads and bridges, our air and sea ports, malls and office and residential buildings. We have also built numerous factories producing products like pulp and paper, steel roofing, glass bottles and steel bars. We have helped build banks and financial institutions. We have built and managed delightful hotels all over the country. We have helped many thousands of young families realize their dreams of owning their own homes. And now we are making good quality education accessible to some 150,000 families that otherwise would not be in a position to uplift their lives through education. All these we’ve done while creating thousands of jobs and offering products and services that provide the best value for money. In some way, we are indeed making lives better.

Yet our country remains poor, a laggard among our Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) peers, and too many Filipinos still live below the poverty line. And our education system performs worse that even some of those in the poorest countries in the world. Under these circumstances, how does a company like Phinma—and our like-minded friends in the business community who share in this passion—make good on our aspirations to help build a better country and to make lives better?

Our natural inclination is to blame all on our political leaders. And I would be the first to say that indeed, there is much reason to complain. In the post-Marcos years, we have had three presidents whose administrations showed a genuine desire to do what was good for our country, and three who were motivated mainly by greed for wealth and power. And the impact was manifested in the manner our economy performed, in how Filipinos felt about their country and its prospects, and how the world viewed us.

Yes, leadership matters, but it is we who elect our leaders. And I have come to the view that business enterprises and their leaders have a particular responsibility to do their part in improving the lot of our country and our countrymen, in view of the vast resources in the hands of enterprises, and the positions of influence held by business leaders. This is the context around which we have decided to sponsor at DLSU the Phinma-DLSU Center for Business and Society, and this will be housed most appropriately at the DLSU Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business.

Force for good

With an initial seed fund of P50 million from Phinma, my family’s EMAR Corp. and my own personal contribution, it is our hope that this center will become the country’s foremost advocate for business as a force for good. The aim is to produce business leaders who will embrace the idea that business has a responsibility beyond profits, that business must do its part in bringing about a better Philippines and a better life for Filipinos, that business must be a force for good. A corollary hope is that we will produce business executives who will not be afraid to speak out and take a stand on issues of national importance even if outside the strictly business field, and who will be willing to be active citizens in the pursuit of better lives for our people.

This center will do thorough research and case studies that will be the source of material for enhancing the curriculum of the college of business, initially at DLSU, but hopefully ultimately reaching other colleges of business as well. It will also propagate the message of business as a force for good within the business community through publications, conferences and discussion groups. We hope to work with other existing initiatives and key business organizations that encourage businesses to walk the talk in becoming responsible partners in nation building and lifting more and more families and communities from poverty —of business going beyond the call of duty and embracing the idea that it takes an all-of-nation approach to address every nation’s biggest challenges.

In our Filipino culture, bayanihan represents a spirit of communal unity and cooperation to achieve a specific goal. We are channeling this collective power, bridging the gap between industries and the academe, to mold a future where business inherently benefits society.

Like a single spark that can ignite a vast flame, we believe one institution, one leader, one educator, one student and one idea can catalyze significant change. Our goal at the Phinma-DLSU Center for Business and Society is to create multiple sparks and fan them into a blaze of change that spreads across industries and borders.

Allow me to stress that in launching this initiative, Phinma is in no way claiming to be the only company heeding the call for business to become a force for good. Others are hearing and taking to heart the call, some much earlier than Phinma and in a larger scale. But my hope is that we can all work closer together. We need to take down walls and build bridges. We need to collaborate rather than always compete to address, with more effective business practices, the long-standing problems that plague society: education, homelessness, hunger and health being some of the biggest. It is well and good for many among us to be obsessed with zero-carbon by 2030. Perhaps, more of us can be equally obsessed with zero hunger and stunting, with zero homelessness, with zero illiteracy.

Transformative journey

To the country’s leading business colleges, we extend an invitation to join us in this transformative journey. Together, we can redefine the curriculum to teach business as an economic activity and a societal contribution. Incorporating business as a force for good into our teaching, research and engagement activities ensures that our future leaders are equipped with the knowledge to thrive in business and the conscience to use that knowledge for societal betterment.

To our premiere business organizations, this is a call to action. Your partnership is crucial in demonstrating the practical application of these principles. You are the living laboratories where theories are tested, where academic concepts meet real-world challenges. By adopting business as a force for good as your strategic approach, you become exemplars of success defined not solely by profit margins but also by the positive impact you create.

Imagine more and more companies getting involved in education to address the gaps that continue to exacerbate the learning crisis. Imagine more and more companies building decent and safe shelter. Imagine more and more companies addressing the lack of better transport and logistics across the archipelago. Imagine health and wellness services being made available in all provinces through public-private partnerships. Imagine more and more companies doing these and more, achieving profits yet making affordable quality products and services available to Filipino families, including the disadvantaged and those left behind.

This is the bayanihan we need now. A bayanihan that will open pathways out of poverty for more and more Filipinos. It is high time that we scale up business solutions to decades-old problems of the nation. Doing business must become part of the solution and no longer the problem.


This article was lifted from the keynote speech of the author during the March 8 launch of the Phinma-DLSU Center for Business & Society. The author is the 1989 president of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the “MAP Management Person of the Year 2010”. He is the chair and CEO of Phinma Corp. Feedback at and