I thank our group chairman, Dr. George S. K. Ty, for inviting me to deliver this Anniversary Message during this important milestone, the 30th Anniversary of the Metrobank Foundation. After I retired two years ago as Chief Justice of the Philippines, I was invited by Dr. Ty to be a senior adviser to the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, and concurrently later, as the vice-chair of the Board of Advisers of the Metrobank Foundation. As you know, the chair of our Board of Advisers is former President Corazon C. Aquino.
I consider it a great honor to serve both Metrobank and Metrobank Foundation not only because both institutions are the best in their respective fields of endeavor in our country but also because I believe in the vision and work ethic of their common founder, Dr. Ty. During a wedding reception about a year ago, a journalist asked me what one word best describes our group chair. Without hesitation, I replied, “Trust.”
In these days of uncertainties, of financial meltdowns and of cratered confidence in institutions and personalities in our country and in the world, what we all look up to is a person who does what he says, who takes care of our concerns more than he does of his own, one who – like US President Barack Obama – could say “Yes we can!” because his rhetoric is backed up by yesterday’s “Yes we did!” Verily, that one person is Dr. Ty, a man of sturdy hope and solid achievement, and that one word is “TRUST,” the shining virtue we all cherish today and everyday.
As I said earlier, we are gathered in this large auditorium to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Metrobank Foundation with the theme, “Excel, Engage, Empower” and to recognize the tireless efforts of our 40 institutional partners by awarding each of them the Metrobank Foundation “Partner in Empowering and Advocating Excellence” or PEACE.
Today, we also bestow the Metrobank Foundation “Awards for Continuing Excellence and Service” or ACES to 30 former awardees of our past Search for Outstanding Teachers, Search for Outstanding Journalists, Search for Outstanding Philippine Soldiers, and the Metrobank Art & Design Excellence National Competition.
According to Metrobank Foundation President Aniceto M. Sobrepena, the ACES honor “former winners of our recognition programs who have continued to make substantial contributions in their chosen fields. Through their accomplishments, they raise the bar of excellence, competence and integrity, and inspire others to bring out the best in themselves.”
In addition to the prizes given by our Foundation, I am pleased to give two books to each of the 40 PEACE and 30 ACES awardees. Two years ago, I wrote these two books titled, Liberty and Prosperity and Summa. The first book discusses my judicial philosophy – - that courts have two basic functions; to safeguard the liberty of our people and to nurture their prosperity under the rule of law. The second sums up in one volume the more than 1,200 full length decisions and 100 separate opinions that I penned during my over 11 years in the Supreme Court. In their original form, these opinions are contained in 69 volumes of 500 pages each or about 35,000 pages in total.
Excellence, the Common Thread
Ladies and gentlemen, please note that a common thread binds and unites all the awards and recognition programs of Metrobank Foundation, and this is the adjective “outstanding” or “excellent.” Yes, excellence drives the entire philosophy of the Metrobank Foundation. It seeks, aspires for, bathes in and promotes excellence all the time, everywhere. The Foundation craves for excellence all day and all night, year in and year out, amongst its officers and employees, inside among its affiliates and partners, and brings it outside to the community, the nation and the world. It strives to recognize and to reward the best in everyone. Indeed, excellence is the Foundation’s beacon and anchor.
Excellence is a value that demands our best performance all the time. True, not everyone has been endowed with the same amount of gray matter or artistic talent or motor skill or athletic prowess. Truly, God has given us many different gifts and attributes – intellectual, musical, athletic, entrepreneurship, or artistic. Some of us are teachers, soldiers, journalists, artists; others are computer programmers, bankers, traders, professionals and farmers; some are plain, ordinary workers.
But whatever be our situation in life, one thing is sure: God has given each of us, without exception, a natural talent. It is everyone’s responsibility to discover and to develop to the maximum whatever natural gift the Lord has, in His wisdom, endowed us. Excellence in our chosen work, vocation or career brings us self-confidence and self-assurance. Excellence becomes our source of self-dignity, self-worth and self-fulfillment.
Truly, there is no substitute for devotion to excellence; no replacement for high performance; no alternative to believing in ourselves and in our capacity to ride over tragedy and defeat. Some of us may lose heart after a few disappointments and failures like a failed subject in school, a frustrated love affair, a lost job, and a missed opportunity. Many times, however, adversities and misfortunes are really preludes to greater victory. Let me illustrate that with a little story.
We Persevere Whether
in Good or Bad Times
During the Middle Ages, there lived in Europe a farmer, his wife and their only son who was twenty years old. The farmer tilled the fields with his horse. (They did not have carabaos in Europe.) One day, the horse ran away to the nearby mountains. So, his neighbors flocked to him and said, “Bad luck for you. Your horse is gone. Now, your family will starve because you can no longer till the fields.” The farmer replied, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows? I will just keep on doing my best and God will do the rest.”
A month later, the horse came back with ten other wild horses from the mountain. The villagers again trooped to our farmer and chorused, “Good luck for you. Now you have eleven horses, more than any of us here.” The farmer answered, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows? I will just keep doing my best and God will do the rest.”
Another month later, the farmer’s son mounted one of the wild horses to tame it. However, it threw him off and alas, he broke his left leg. Again the neighbors told the farmer, “Bad luck for you. With a broken leg, your son is useless in your farm.” The farmer simply replied, “Good luck? Bad Luck? Who knows? I will just keep on doing my best and God will do the rest.”
One more month later, the kingdom went to war and the king conscripted all the able-bodied men in the village, except of course, the farmer’s injured son. Unfortunately, the kingdom lost the war and all the young men from the village were killed. The villagers once more visited the farmer and cried, “Good luck for you. You are the only one among who has a son to inherit your farm.” And again the farmer replied, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows? I will just keep on doing my best and God will do the rest.”
Friends, like our farmer, we are constantly besieged by events outside our control. Let us not be frustrated, let us not give up, let us not be overtaken by them. Let us be like the farmer. No matter what happens, whether good or bad, let us persevere, let us continue doing our best, continue to believe in ourselves, continue to work hard for our ultimate victory. Let us carry on the Metrobank beacon and anchor of excellence in everything we say or do, all the time, all our lives.
We Engage in Community Work,
Even in Times of Adversity
Ladies and gentlemen, please note that while the farmer in our story was chanting his “Good luck-Bad luck-Who knows?” spiel, he was really inspiring his fellows in his village. He was the model that they must likewise do their best regardless of the fortune or misfortune that has befallen them. He was engaging his villagers to believe in themselves and their ultimate victory.
Instead of just feeling sad and waiting for the inevitable to happen, he kept on tilling the fields even without his horse, planting crops, herbs and vegetables that did not need the grand scale plowing of the field. He diversified his crops, reinvented himself, reengineered his ways and proceeded to work. He innovated and did his best with his available resources. And when his son injured his foot, he did not cry all day and stop working. He continued to think, to reinvent and to work even harder in the face of adversity and tragedy.
In the process, he selflessly shared his intellect, vision and work ethic with his neighbors and became an example of resiliency to his fellow villagers. He continued to be outstanding and to engage the community in being excellent. And so it is with our awardees over the last 30 years. After they have been recognized for their excellence, they continued on and spread the good news of excellence to the larger society in general.
For its part, the Foundation led its honorees, scholars and partners to form alumni organizations that energized their associates, neighbors and co-workers. A good example is the Metrobank Foundation Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators or NOTED.Organized in 1997, NOTED has conducted various teacher training programs nationwide, equipping fellow educators with up-to-date knowledge and the latest teaching approaches and methodologies. It has also been involved in the development of instructional materials and teaching modules in various schools, including the Philippine Military Academy. Last year, it gathered educators from all over the country during its second national tri-level conference that focused on the role of education in tackling environmental challenges, proving that teachers are responsive to social needs.
We have other alumni associations of winners including (1) the Metrobank ASSET, the acronym for Alumni Scholars for Service, Excellence and Transformation; (2) the COPS PROTECT, for Policemen Responsible for Organizing, Teaching and Empowering Communities; (3) the TOPSOLDIERS, for The Organization of Philippine Soldiers with Outstanding Leadership, Dedication, Initiative, Excellence and Responsibility to Society; and (4) the MADE-NOW, for MADE Network of Outstanding Winners.
Lack of time prevents me from discussing here the many interesting involvements of these alumni groups. Suffice it to say that our awardees were not satisfied with being merely excellent to serve their own needs and families. They have gone out individually and as a group to engage others in spreading the culture of excellence everywhere and to everyone within their reach.
We Empower Our
Communities and Our Nation
Our awardees did not stop at just engaging their friends and associates to improve the latter’s careers and lives. By the power of their example and their dogged commitment to spread the gospel of excellence, our awardees have improved the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Let me cite just two examples.
First, Dr. Graciano P. Yumul Jr., PhD – wanting to translate his academic knowledge for which he was recognized in 2001 as an outstanding teacher by the Metrobank Foundation to something more concrete and useful – established, under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology, a coco-methyl ester plant in far-away Tablas Island, Romblon. This plant revitalized the coconut industry in the province and helped improve the standard of living of the local farmers. Equally significant, the plant reduced the farmers’ dependence on the use of fossil fuel to process their crops.
Second example. Col. Francisco Cruz, a 2002 TOPS awardee, became a defense and armed forces attaché in Singapore in 2004 to 2006. Inspired by the heroic stories of our overseas Filipino workers there and wanting to empower them in their work place, Col. Cruz organized the Search for Outstanding Filipinos in Singapore to uplift the image and work of our OFWs in the island state.
There are many more examples and stories of excellence, engagement and empowerment undertaken by our scholars, awardees and partners. I will leave them now and will just wait for another opportunity to relate them to you.
In the meantime, awardees, partners and friends, allow me now to summarize my message. The theme of the 30th Anniversary of the Metrobank Foundation is Excel, Engage, Empower. Of these three Es, the beacon and the anchor is the first, which is EXCEL. By constantly practising this first virtue during the last 30 years, all our awardees and partners have improved their careers, their professions, their businesses and their lives. They have definitely become better teachers, soldiers, journalists, artists and designers. By extending their work to their communities, their schools and their work places, they ENGAGED themselves in nation building. Their excellence contributed to the creation and development of a better society and a stronger nation. And by being role models in their communities, our awardees and partners EMPOWERED their neighbors, co-workers, associates and friends to do likewise, to excel, to engage and thereby to multiply a thousand fold their influence and reach.
May I stress, however, that the three Es of Excel, Engage and Empower, especially the core value of EXCELLENCE must be accompanied by the one T that our group chairman is known for, and that is TRUST. For indeed, EXCELLENCE and TRUST or ET must go together because they mutually reinforce each other. I think you will all agree that excellence that is untrustworthy is not only useless but can also be destructive. Of what value is excellence if it is used to deceive or to defraud or to take undue advantage of the gullibility and the misfortune of others?
Surely, we trust others not only because they are honest but also because they are excellent in their work; because they can do what they promise. We trust others because we know they are capable; because we are sure they can deliver on their word; because they have a track record of excellence. Competence and confidence; excellence and trust go together; build on each other and are impregnable altogether. As I said in the beginning, today’s popular motto of “Yes we can!” is credible only when it is supported by a clean track record of yesterday’s “Yes we did!”
Ladies and gentlemen, today, we celebrate Metrobank Foundation’s three Es – as in Excel, Engage, Empower – because they are backed up by one T as in George S. K. Ty.
Mabuhay po tayong lahat!