CSR Series: YFC – Prayers and Spirituality III

Mr. Anonymous offered a very interesting scenario featuring a dilemma, written below:

What if you’re placed in this dilemma:

Your successful company that you have taken care for years is about to face bankruptcy, turmoil, or whatever the worst you can think of. You’ve cut down the number of your employees already to the minimum, you’ve cut their salary, you’ve done everything you can to save it. I’m no business person so I’m not familiar with the terms and techniques, but you get it: you’ve done everything ethically, morally and legally possible. Still, it seems inevitable. Then suddenly a light of hope was shown to you and it involves manipulating people through religion and spirituality. Nothing’s illegal in terms of papers, permits, etc. but the only catch is that you’ll have to use religion to manipulate people such as your investors, or even your employees. In other words: “mang-uto ng ibang tao gamit ang salita ng Diyos/Relihiyon” to save your most beloved company. Your company is your life, your passion. You did almost everything for it and if you’re not going to do this “manipulation”, everything you have will be lost. What will you choose?

Manipulation is such a strong word.

In this very challenging situation, I would not use religion and spirituality to manipulate.  And really, if I did have a strong sense of spirituality and religious belief, I believe in the 2nd Commandment wherein one should not use God’s name in vain; and believing in Karma, whatever you do will have repercussions.

First of all, I were to establish a company, given my current frame of mind and worldview, it will have social and/or environmental value generation motive embedded in it.  I believe it will be at least a social enterprise or a sustainability enterprise – addressing more than the profit motive.  Therefore, spiritual values must be integral to its culture.

Spirituality will not be used to manipulate, but rather its benevolent values are what the company will be fighting for.  So to reframe your scenario, it’s not “mang-uto ng iba gamit ang salita ng Diyos”, but rather, “draw support from others through the Word of God that our very company stands for.”

Maybe we can get support through donations?  Or by partnering and collaborating with other social enterprises?  Asking for loans?  I do not know.  But the great thing about social enterprises is that it thrives in the dynamic of collaboration, not competition.  Somehow, there will be bigger socially-driven institutions that can offer help for my company to survive.

If I were to be a successful entrepreneur, then there WILL always be a creative solution.  If I was able to provide a creative solution for others, why not exhaust all creative solutions for the company as well?

Collaboration with other social enterprises or institutions with the same values will help me get over this very challenging dilemma.  Hindi naman pang-uuto kung talagang bahagi na ng buhay at negosyo mo ang Salita ng Diyos, diba? 🙂

So to directly answer your question, I will not use religion to manipulate, but rather, make it a source of strength and keep the faith.  Because I know that institutions who share the same spiritual values as my company can help me get over this lump.

I do not consider myself YET as an excellent social entrepreneur.  But if I am to become one and own a social enterprise instead of working for one, then that means I must have been capable of finding plenty of creative solutions.  And besides, I know that I am not alone.  There will be fellow social entrepreneurs that will be willing to sustainably collaborate with me to get over this.

I hope that I answered your question. 🙂

CSR Series: YFC – Prayers and Spirituality II

In one of my CSR Series post that featured the topic of Prayers and Spirituality, an anonymous commenter offered a very enriching insight written below:

“Hi sir, nice blog post you have. I hope you don’t mind if I post a “what if” here. What if businesses are gearing towards spirit-driven consumption, just because the businesses recognize the power of religion, faith, or whatever that is synonymous to that, can further be used to boost their respective business? I mean, what if it is the focus of businesses lately because people are easily lured into manipulation when it comes to the name of whoever is their Higher Being?

I just want to share one of my experiences. I have been into one of worship centers by a certain Catholic group. The flow is plain and simple:

1. Start with a 1 hour mass
2. 30 minutes worth of worship songs, sharing of experiences by some worship leaders, telling people to lift their hands, do this do that.
3. The main speaker/worship leader arrives at the stage, delivering a very inspiring and educating seminar. It could be about finance, love, life, social responsibility. Anything that matches the season of the year or their chosen theme for the month.
4. They go back to a 15 minute worship, glorifying the Higher Being.
5. There goes the donation part. For the group’s financial projects so they can “spread the word, spread the good news”. And they will ask you to join the group, or join their elite donors who give 100k a month voluntarily.
6. Please return next Friday! You may go out now 😛

So in this flow, the people are driven by their religion, praising first, then will be inspired to donate, to “give more to others”. What if this flow is just to manipulate people to give money? What if the money they receive is 50% for themselves, 40% for their projects, 10% for charity?

What if religion, and faith in itself is just another business strategy, no longer a driving force to inspire and do our true purpose?

What if spirituality became an integral part of any organization in order to ease the pressure in making employees, or other people do what the organization wants to achieve, regardless of the intention?

What if religion, faith and/or spirituality is just a tool to earn money nowadays?

I just want to hear your insight on this one, nothing really personal. I’ve read some of your posts before and I find them very interesting. If I am out of the topic here, please pardon me. It just came into my interest to try and hear your opinion regarding this. Thank you and have a nice day :)”

This was my reply:

Sadly, there are indeed instances wherein some abuse the concept of religion and spirituality, and turn them into manipulative tools to lure people into what they want. Indeed, we cannot deny the fact that these kinds of things build reputation, and who wouldn’t want to build one’s reputation?

My key insight in the scenario you wrote is that the “audience” should be vigilant – though it is hard, one must look past superficial things and determine whether “spirituality” is authentic or just for show. I know that what I am writing is easier said than done, but that’s the way it is.

Kudos to the organizations that will indeed practice good governance, benevolent spirituality in the workplace, and spearhead sustainability-oriented activities not just because of reputation management, but because they indeed want to make positive change.

If I may refer to writings from the Bible, it is said there that even evil beings can quote from the Scriptures – even the malevolent can deceive by doing superficial good.

As such, from the Bible as well, we must be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. In my interpretation, this means being able to see things with open eyes, but not indulging in the dirt thus becoming harmless doves.

So in summary, what I want to say is this: we have eyes, we should just open them. We have the power to determine lies from truths. However hard it is, it does not mean that it is not possible. We should keep open eyes and minds, and remember that though the essence of spirituality and religion are good, malevolent people have the power to distort it in a way that will benefit the latter’s personal desires.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where even the seemingly most benevolent activities have malevolent ulterior motives.  It is a challenge for us to be aware.  Equipped with the Internet and free from the possible manipulations of biased mass media, we have the responsibility to question what we see, even if it is as fundamental as what we believe in.  Because in the long run, this strengthens our faith, our core values. 

CSR Series: Recycle? How About “Reincarnate?

I’ll first let the Naked Juice ad below do the talking through its amazing kinetic typography advertisement.

Wow, I was amazed.  This is beyond the recycling green advocacy.  The concept of “reincarnating” is great, in the aspect of bottles, is great because plenty of drinks and packaging use it.  Especially in the Philippines, it is one of the major garbage found in bodies of waters and in the streets.

But then, continuous “reincarnation” of bottles to be used for eternity will greatly reduce waste.

Bottomline: this is a prime example of what it means to go beyond “responsibility” and become an embodiment of “sustainability”.

CSR Series: Embodying Your Beliefs

It is hard.  Trying to go against the current of the status quo.  Witnessing everyone around me taking the relatively safer road, the one tried and tested, while I am contemplating what I will do in the future.

This term made me ask questions.  To start pursuing corporate or start with a socially/sustainability-oriented career?  Corporate life promises the allure of comfortable money-filled life.  The other one, less travelled, promises self-actualization that my idealistic desires want to materialize.


I want to achieve monetary and soul-nourishing things.  I do not want to be a martyr; what I want is to achieve the best for me and the best for those around me.

Some would say I do not have a duty to serve those below me, but why is my conscience telling me otherwise?

The reason why I wanted to look at a social entrepreneurship career or working for an institution that includes social or sustainability entrepreneurship motives is that I wanted to be doing what is beyond right, yet I know I can sustain it.

Living a dream life while pushing others upward in the process.  Who would not want that?

I believe that CSR, in its current form now, is not enough.  There are even some that use it for the sake of reputation, not out of the drive to help.

I want to be part of an institution where these kinds of things are integrated in its processes, in its core business model perhaps.  I don’t want these things to be just “sidelines”.  I want this integrated in my career.

Yet I also want a relatively lucrative career.  Those promised in the corporate lifestyle, but instead of just increasing profits, there is social value generated.

For my last internship term, I will be going at the Foundation again.  I will believe and fight for the belief that social entrepreneurs, or those involved in a similar career, do not have to be martyrs just to serve.

Socially-oriented career takers should be able to live the dream, while letting others have the capacity to realistically dream as well.

It is hard to embody these beliefs, but these are beliefs worth fighting for.

CSR Series: YFC Learnings and Bo Sanchez

The final prayer for our YFC Shared Learning was filled with these series of words:

“Thank you, Lord!”

“Salamat po!”

“Gusto lang po namin mag-thank you!”

“…kahit na medyo maulan, biniyayaan pa rin kami!”

“… di Mo kami pinabayaan!”

“Salamat din po sa mga darating pang mga blessings!”

This kind of gratitude is very rare.  Most of the time, people will be praying for supplication, for blessings.  Most of the time, people will pray to receive, not give thanks.

And this is what Bo Sanchez, in his new book (which unfortunately I forget the title as of the moment!) wrote.  We should learn to be thankful for the things we have received, what we are receiving, and what we will receive.

Bo tells in his book that this is the way to attract daily miracles in our life.  Perhaps this helps, because this kind of philosophy inevitably leads a person to look at life half full, that somehow a Higher Being, and in my case, God, will shower blessings and will continue to do so out of love.

Taking this to a level of business perspective, isn’t it amazing that businesses can become enablers of gratitude for people to spread blessings?

Let businesses become enablers of gratitude – from the past, present, and future!

CSR Series: Monooligopolitics

For me, the highlight of our COSORES class discussion today lies on the concept of “imperfect competition”.  If I’m not mistaken, (economics majors please correct me!), the assumption of capitalism and economics is that the invisible hand of the market will enable justice and fairness due to perfect competition.

Now I know what Yunus was talking about when he said that capitalism has failed.  The invisible hand theory of Adam Smith seemingly failed to regulate powerful corporations capable of selfish monopoly and oligopoly.  Moreover, there are times that government, though discouraged by free-market extremists, failed to regulate these predatory businesses from being abusive.

Failure through monopoly.  Failure through oligopoly.  Enabled by bad politics.

CSR Series: Pattern-Breaking Social Change

Our mentor in the Social Entrepreneurship and Good Governance Training Program at ADMU said that social entrepreneurs must introduce:

“Pattern-breaking social change”.

Then I remembered my father telling me that positive change can only happen, especially in the Philippines, when:

“People get sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Is tremendous poverty not yet enough?  Do we need more tantrums from Mother Nature before we act and take things seriously?

It’s time for us to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.  We should be, in our own ways, be inducers of pattern-breaking social change.

I know that what I write is easier written, easier said, than done.  And I know that I do not yet have the best answers to these issues I am writing here.

But I know that I’m in the process of finding the right answers, the right things to do.  Maybe, this is my own little leap of faith, that since what I’m craving for is for the greater good including my good, perhaps Someone  out there will guide me however invisible His hand is.

It’s time to change the status quo.

CSR Series: The Path of Thorns

I remember playing an exciting role-playing game in the PlayStation1 called “Suikoden II”.  It is a game where the hero leads a rebellion army to unite the state called Dunan.

Before the climatic final war, Shu the strategist asks the hero, (paraphrased) “Would you choose the easy path, the path of the ordinary and safe, or the path of thorns, the path of the glorious king?”

The path of thorns is uneasy, is risky, is unsafe.  But at the end of it lies the greater goal, the greater purpose.

There are businesses that have failed and gained massive losses.  What more if CSR, touted as “cost”, is integrated?

Entrepreneurship is a hard road, with only a select few from the many being able to succeed after their initial and jumpstarting years.  What more if the enterprise is a social, eco/green, or sustainable one?

This is the path of thorns that the change makers must traverse.

CSR Series: Career Uncertainty

It has been quite a year.  Since January, I have been eager to explore a career social innovation, particularly through social entrepreneurship.  Some would deem me as to being too worried – I still have one academic year to decide what to do after graduation.

Fast forward to 7 months later, I’m still torn whether to engage in corporate or start dedicating my life to social entrepreneurship.  I believe there are people in the same predicament as me.
After an internship with the Visayan Forum Foundation, doing a thesis on sustainable entrepreneurship in the Philippines, having a part-time internship in the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundatoin, studying a class of corporate social responsibility (COSORES), and enrolling in a Social Entrepreneurship and Good Governance Training Program in ADMU, I’m still searching for the answer.  Funny how these things may appear to be many in number, and sometimes others may mistake me that I am 100% certain of my career direction, but still I’m uncertain.
What I know is that I know little.  Ironically, the more I search for answers and competencies, the more I realize that I know little.  And this little knowledge and experience sometimes paralyzes me to have a leap of faith.
However, what I also know is I’m searching for a career I can integrate sustainability and responsibility while having the ample material wealth I need to start saving for the future.  My short term need is the material wealth security, but my long term need is to have spiritual wealth as well.
Almost 10 months to go before I decide whether to start in corporate or start early in my pursuit of social innovation.  I admit, all the activities I am engaging with in these times can be so tiring.  But I know they are essential if I want to have a clear, informed decision of what to do with my career.
So, I pray that God would give me the strength to continue this ardent pursuit to integrate a lifelong career with what is the greater good.  To continue with the classes and the internships and give it my all.
My own hero’s journey continues.  Will I immediately take the call to the unknown or special world?

CSR Series: YFC Reflection – Prayers and Spirituality

Awhile ago, we helped conduct the YFC Sports Festival at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament near Mindanao Avenue and Quirino Highway.  The activity started and ended in prayer through song worship.

And boy, it has been a long time since I’ve been part of a song worship.

Then it occurred to me: what if spirituality became an integral part of any organization?  Is it not a wonderful and satisfying feeling to offer activities to a Higher Being through glorifying songs of worship and exultation?

Is it not great, even if one considers himself an atheist, to offer actions and activities in the name and pursuit of Common Good?

I believe that if activities and programs would be seen more than just activities, if they would be seen as offerings for a Higher Purpose, then ethics will follow.  The great thing about spiritual organizations is that all of their functions have an innate greater intent – to celebrate God or whatever ones consider as the Higher Being.

As Peter Drucker mentioned, businesses can learn from nonprofits.  And I’d like to add that businesses can learn from spiritual organizations as well.

Above the profit motive and all the financials, we humans, whatever religions or faith we believe in, have greater purpose.  We are not here just to survive, but rather, fulfill our greater destiny.

It’s amazing how my part-time internship in the foundation, the shared learning in COSORES, and my continuous search for engaging in businesses with higher purpose converges in this one thought: spirituality.

Business gurus such as Philip Kotler has recognized how the market is shifting towards spirit-driven consumption.  Visser has contended how CSR must now focus on sustainability as well.  We are living in times where finally, businesses and organizations touted with brutal efficiency are now being imbued with the needs of the spirit to achieve higher purpose.

Truly, exciting times.