I have enrolled in a short course in Ateneo De Manila University, which is dubbed as the “Social Entrepreneurship and Governance Training Program”.  This class is very interesting, and in the vernacular, nakakakaba, since most of the students are graduates already and in fact, some already have their own social enterprises.  Only I and James Fernando are the undergraduates in this course.

However, this makes the whole experience more interesting.

We are witnessing startup social entrepreneurs practice and offer insights on what I learn from my COSORES class – the importance of integrating business ethics to business entities.  Indeed, ethics is embedded to the business model since social enterprises use profits and market-based solutions to address social problems.

And again, pardon the blatant redundancy, but this dynamic of a class is very interesting.

In the Philippines where corruption is so institutionalized, how can social entrepreneurs remain ethical, especially in applying for business permits and needing political connections for support?  The first session, though introductory, allowed me to realize how the collaboration of the public and private sector is vital to the success of social entrepreneurship.

I am very excited to meet established social entrepreneurs, even the rarer sustainable entrepreneurs.  I think this is a great chance to network, and even set up interviews with sustainable entrepreneurs for our group’s thesis.

This term is a period filled with opportunities to explore CSR and social innovation.  I’m enrolled in COSORES and the Social Entrepreneurship short course, having a thesis on sustainable entrepreneurship, while being a part-time intern for the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundation.

I sincerely hope that I can integrate social innovation to my long term career plans – get a lucrative life yet make the society and environment richer as well.  This is the materialization of my almost impossible dream to be strike the best of all worlds.

We will be involved in the Youth for Christ (YFC) for our Shared Learning activity in COSORES.  I think this is a great exposure to see how a Christ-centric organization functions, and how we can integrate our business student skills and talents to help their organization achieve their goals or execute projects.

I remember encountering a book, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s by Peter Drucker.  The management guru’s book is about what lessons companies and businesses can learn from nonprofits.

And indeed, this learning experience will show us in its simplest form, how organizations work which are not driven by profit.  Even more interesting?  They are driven by a benevolent of God – Jesus Christ.

If Ms. Pia, our professor, does approve this shared learning experience proposal, then I think we will be uncovering great insights.  Exciting, indeed.

Ethics has been a very delicate issue especially in business. Numerous principles and frameworks, such as utilitarianism and deontology, have been developed and even applied to the business setting to address the need for enterprises to have guiding principles.

This is a tricky situation, indeed. How do you mix ethics in an environment where results are measured down til the final centavo? How do you apply principles to highly competitive results-driven performers?

Can virtues such as honesty, fortitude, and temperance directly achieve multi-million dollar profits?

How do you mix soft and intangible things to an entity that must maximize income and minimize cost?

This is where CSR and business ethics enter.

It disproves the notion that businesses are just profit achieving entities filled with selfishly-driven individuals. Instead, it sees using different lenses, that businesses are also organizations with benevolent intentions, fueled by human beings capable of being stewards of God’s creation.

We are entering a major paradigm shift, wherein these noble things are being appreciated and are now even used ti mitigate the harshness of exploitive capitalism.

We are in a world where one does not anymore need to sell one’s soul to the devil ti achieve greatness. And this is the way that things ought to be, transcending the past, the present, and the future.

CSR is a continuous growing field. According to Wayne Visser, the old model of CSR is evolving – from Corporate Social Responsibility, it is rephrased to Corporate Sustainability and Responsibity.

From Social to Sustainability.

This addresses the need to address not just the poor and the society, but also the ecological implications of business and corporate processes.

The thing is, as a business student, the field is growing fast and is even being married to development and sustainability issues. The assumptions of pure profit maximization and cost minimization are being challenged by our need to take care of the planet.

It is exciting that we are entering a revolution where established principles are being challenged and are in fact evolving. Philip Kotler (2010) wrote Marketing 3.0, which contents propose that we are shifting to spirit-driven consumption. People consider how the products and services affect the society, and whether the consumers, through patronizing a brand, can contribute to a certain cause. For Visser, he is now establishing the new CSR 2.0 which shifts towards sustainability.

The challenge for me now is to marry my desire to earn a good living while integrating the value of sustainability and responsibility. CSR 2.0 and Marketing 3.0 will be my foundation principles.

This is one of the greatest sentences I have ever uttered and heard as a student.  It evokes a deep sigh of relief, a loud cheer of exultation, and a flaunting sign of victory.  “Walang pasok ngayon!” is a statement now synonymous to a whole day romantic date, a barkada outing, and late night parties.  For the studious, this is a day off to prepare for a major quiz or a grand presentation.

Never mind why we do not have class today.  Never mind the reason behind the formalities, the rituals, and the superficial celebrations.  Never mind the meaning behind June 12.  Never mind if it is Philippine Independence Day. 

What matters is we have no classes today.

Now I have written the above paragraphs, I can hear President Noynoy’s speech about how we should thank our ancestors, our heroes, who shed blood and tears for us to be free.  I can hear schools telling students to research and write a reflection about how the Philippine Independence Day contributed to the Filipino’s freedom now.  One would even dare imagine and tell a compelling story on how Rizal and Bonifacio are smiling in heaven because their deaths have resulted into the freedom we are enjoying now!

All of these while life goes on for the busy students, for the busy parents willing to go to work to earn more.  All of these while people in the LRT will suffer lost phones and belongings from desperate countrymen.  All of these while the Maguindanao Massacre still has no closure.  All of these while the power resides in a chosen few.  All of these while the Philippines is still considered a third-world country.  Though, an “independent” one at that.

Yes, we are an “independent” and “free” nation.  But are all Filipinos truly independent and free to pursue who they want to be?

What is independence when the poor people are still dependent on the mercy of the upper class?

What is freedom when journalists, whistleblowers, and witnesses will be chopped to death for fighting for truth and justice?

What is independence when one would need to desperately kill and steal from his fellow countrymen to sustain one’s desire for a better life?

What is freedom when money can cheat the law and perpetuate the reign of the rich and the slavery of the poor?

Do not accuse indifference to people who see June 12 just as a no-work day.  Because truth be told, June 12 has transformed into a mere formality and celebration for most Filipino, an occasion whose benefits include a no-work day.

Let us dub June 12 as truly the Independence Day when majority of the Filipinos are indeed free to be who they want to be.  For now, let us be content on it being “Walang Pasok Ngayon” day.