Philippines - Module 4 of ASEAN CSR Fellowship (2017)

For Module 4 of the ASEAN CSR Fellowship, ACN worked with the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) as its local partner. Today, the CSR and civil society sector in the Philippines is one of the most active in ASEAN. Large family corporations, multinational corporations and civil society have been actively implementing various philanthropic activities to alleviate poverty and protect the environment. Though CSR is still described as primarily philanthropic, there has also been a slow shift towards a focus on how businesses make their profits. 

In this context, Fellows focused on the following questions for Module 4: How does the private sector further national development goals in the Philippines, and why do they bother? What role does civil society, traditionally strong in the Philippines, play in this? What shifts can we expect with the new Duterte administration?  

Highlights in the Philippines:

  1. ASEAN Inclusive Business Summit

  2. Site visit to understand Jollibee Group’s Farmers Entrepreneurship Programme

  3. Site visit to San Roque Dam to understand San Roque Corporation’s resettlement and livelihood programme for indigenous communities

  4. Hearing from Dr. Lilia de Lima, Director-General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and Awardee of Ramon Magsaysay Awards on how her hardline stance towards anti-corruption helped to attract FDI from top foreign companies and create almost a million jobs in the Philippines

  5. Hearing about the experience of large corporate/family foundations in the Philippines, including SM Foundation, Aboitiz Foundation, Zuellig Foundation

  6. Presentation of Capstone Projects of Fellow

  7. Movie screening: Crude – on the corporate scandal involving Chevron and environmental pollution in the Amazon

  8. Workshops on ‘Crafting Your Public Narrative’ and ‘Communicating Your CSR’

  9. Closing dinner and graduation hosted by the Chair of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), H.E. Leo Herrara-Lim

Day 1 (4 Sept 2017) - Understanding CSR in the Philippines, Capstone Projects

The morning session started with an overview of CSR in the Philippines by CSR champions from the private sector: Ms Linda L. Atayde (Trustee and Treasurer, LCF; Executive Director for Education, SM Foundation), Ms. Helen Orlande (Executive Director, LCF) and Maribeth Marasigan (FVP and COO, Aboitiz Foundation), Mr Sealdi Gonzales (Manager, Zuellig Family Foundation). The main questions posed included: What is the status of CSR in the Philippines? What is the role of LCF? What are the best CSR practices of LCF members?

In the afternoon, Fellows presented their Capstone Projects:

  1. Aji Paramartha: Solving Poverty Through Food
  2. Dini Triyuni: WEWO for Better Life of Ex Female Convicts in Indonesia
  3. Lydia Ang: SDG17 Partnerships for Sustainable Development and Reporting
  4. Michelle Ong: Enterprise Development for Micro-enterprises: A financial inclusion program for micro-enterprises and farmers in the coffee industry
  5. Philaiphone Vongpraseuth, Sanva Saephan and Vanida Khouangvichit: Responsible Agriculture Investment (RAI)
  6. Pidor Chhay and Sambath Bun: Business Integrity and CSR in Cambodia Businesses
  7. Quek Shiyun: Company of Good Label
  8. Vo Ly Vinh, Nguyen Dung Tien and Nguyen Bich Hien: Labour Law E-guide for Workers, namely “Huong dan luat cho nguoi lao dong”
  9. Zin Mar Lwin: Promoting Business integrity and anti-corruption practices for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development of communities in Sittway, Rakhine State, Myanmar


Fellows voted for their favourite Capstone Projects, with the 'Best Capstone Project' Award going to the team from Laos on responsible agricultural investments.

As the last agenda of the day, Fellows watched ‘Crude’, a documentary produced about the case of corporate irresponsibility and environmental pollution by Chevron in the Amazon rainforest. The objective was to understand remedies available to victims of irresponsible business activities.

Day 2 (5 Sept 2017) - Crafting Your Public Narrative

In the morning, Fellows took part in a workshop titled “Crafting Your Public Narrative” led by Professor Nieves Confessor of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). She guided the Fellows to craft a 7-min public narrative on their Capstone Projects. The key learning point was that in the past, companies had logos and brands, but they did not require a narrative. Today, companies need a social license to operate – hence the need for narratives for them to earn that social license.


In the afternoon, the Fellows went on a tour of Manila, covering the following sites:

  • Malacanang Palace
  • Casa Manila
  • Intramuros
  • San Agustin Church
  • Manila Cathedral

Day 3 (6 Sept 2017) - ASEAN Inclusive Business Summit

The 3rd day was spent attending the inaugural ASEAN Inclusive Business Summit, the inaugural conference on responsible business convened by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and the Philippines as Chair of ASEAN for 2017. This marks a major milestone and signals the commitment from the ASEAN leadership on recognising the importance of responsible business. Topics shared included:

  • Contextualising Inclusive Business in ASEAN
  • Private sector panel discussion: Partnering for competitive and inclusive business models
  • Government panel discussion: Enabling inclusive business through policy
  • Investor panel discussion: Inclusive business financing
  • Way forward for inclusive business in ASEAN

At the Summit, ASEAN CSR Network also launched a new report on access to finance for MSMEs in ASEAN, focusing on the "missing middle" phenomenon - where early to growth stage MSMEs typically exceed upper thresholds to qualify for smaller loans such as microfinance, but are perceived by larger financial institutions to be risky and costly consumers. The report then proposes ways in which this funding gap can be met. This report was a joint partnership with the ABAC, Oxfam and AVPN. More info here.


Day 4 (7 Sept 2017) - Agriculture & Energy

Day 4 featured 2 site visits, roughly a 6 hour ride away from Manila. Fellows first visited San Jose City to gain an understanding of the contract farming model as implemented by Jollibee Group through their Farmer Entrepreneurship Programme (FEP). The trip started with a visit to a chili farm owned by a farmer cooperative in the Kalasag Consolidation Area. Staff of Jollibee and farmers involved in the programme shared how the FEP helps them to ride out volatility in the sale of agricultural produce, secure a higher price and shift the power balance between buyer and seller towards their favour.

Key discussion points included:

  • How does the FEP benefit farmers?
  • Does the FEP contribute to the bottom line of Jollibee? What is the business case for it?


Next, they travelled to Pangasinan to visit San Roque Dam, run by San Roque Corporation. The objective was to learn from their resettlement and livelihood programmes for resettled indigenous communities. The trip started with a sharing session by Mr. Tom Valdez (VP of San Roque Power Corporation) and a video presentation about the company. Next, Fellows were hosted on an appreciation visit to Camanggan Resettlement and Livelihood Area to speak to the community in the area. This was followed by a visit to San Roque Dam itself.

Key discussion points included:

  • How does San Roque Corporation ensure the wellbeing of indigenous communities affected by the dam project?
  • Do these strategies contribute to the long-term sustainability for San Roque Corporation?


Day 5 (8 Sept 2017) - Closing and Graduation

On the final day, Fellows spent the morning hearing from Mr Richard Emerson D Ballester (Division Chief, Macroeconomics Division, National Policy and Planning staff, National Economic and Development Authority) on the Philippine’s economic development plan - Ambisyon Natin 2040 - a long-term 25-year vision for the Philippines.

Next, Fellows heard from Dr Lilia B. de Lima, awardee of the Ramon Magsaysay Award – an award given in honour of former the President who was known for good governance and being the People’s President. The award honours men/women who exceed greatest of spirit, achieving success in improving the lives of people in society. As the former Director-General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Dr Lilia built a honest, competent service of public servants at PEZA. The IFC-World Bank cited only PEZA for Best Practice among Economic Zones worldwide: “Under PEZA, the Philippines has shown dramatic improvements in investment climate. End result – PEZA is a shining example of successful regulatory reform improving overall investment climate in the country”.

In the afternoon, Fellows took part in a workshop entitled ‘Communicating Your CSR’, conducted by Mr. Chito Maniago (Director, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, CEMEX Philippines for Asia). The workshop guided Fellows to create messaging about their company which fulfilled the triple criteria of: creativity, clarity of thought and cohesion. Fellows were also given time to craft their communication strategy, with the best Fellow and presentation recognised.


Module 4 and the ASEAN CSR Fellowship concluded successfully with a closing dinner hosted by the Chair of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), H.E. Leo Herrara-Lim, at Discovery Primea, where Fellows were treated to local cuisine. The conversation with Mr. Herrara-Lim revolved around the aspirations of ASEAN and trends / progress to anticipate in the future.