Members of the Aboitiz Group came together at a joyous gathering to celebrate the start of an exciting new chapter for its corporate citizenship arm, the Aboitiz Foundation (AFI). The Foundation is embarking on a remarkable journey to reshape its mission and step into the role of a visionary leader in sustainable development.
The Foundation celebrated its 35th anniversary with a two-day conference and outlined plans to scale up and innovate the way it uplifts the lives of people. The forum kicked off with a high-powered event hosted by Ms. Antonette Taus, Executive Director of the CORA Foundation, and a well-known figure in the field of philanthropy and social impact.
Foundation of the Future
Sabin M. Aboitiz, Chairman of the Board of the Aboitiz Foundation and Chief Engagement Officer of the Aboitiz Group, laid out the path that AFI will take moving forward in his keynote speech. He echoed the phrase, “Change Today. Shape the Future,” encapsulating the spirit of the Aboitiz Foundation’s vision for the future.
Mr. Aboitiz emphasized the need for the Foundation to go beyond the communities where the group has business and significantly scale its efforts, even to the global stage. He spoke of the importance of technological innovation and bold visions in extending the Foundation’s reach and impact throughout the country. Furthermore, he expressed the vision of the Foundation as the trusted partner of choice for the world’s largest philanthropic foundations, actively addressing systemic issues such as poverty, access to education, and waste.
“Our ambition is fueled by the potential of what we can achieve together by addressing systemic issues, informing, and empowering communities, and fostering sustainable, inclusive growth throughout our archipelago. The partnerships that we built will not only increase our impact but will also create positive change that ripples throughout the generations after us,” Mr. Aboitiz added.
Ms. Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, Aboitiz Equity Ventures’ Chief Reputation & Sustainability Officer, discussed how the Foundation is revamping its initiatives to provide more value to its beneficiaries. They intend to focus their efforts where they can have the greatest impact, as well as harness the synergies among the business units and the Aboitiz Group as a whole.
“Everything we are, everything we stand for, and everything we do goes back to that one thing: People. As we forge ahead to realize this new vision for the Aboitiz Foundation, we do so with passion and a renewed commitment to balancing our people-centric approach with technology-driven solutions to drive positive change,” she highlighted.
Ms. Maribeth Marasigan, President, and COO of Aboitiz Foundation Inc., for her part, stressed that the Foundation is enhancing its capabilities to be more agile and resilient to act swiftly and effectively in a world full of unforeseen consequences. She expressed confidence in the Foundation’s ability to meet the challenges of the next 35 years and beyond, striving for a future in which Filipinos have access to quality education and prosperous lives.
“I’m confident that we will continue to create a legacy of transformative change for our communities and our country,” she noted.
Pillars of Change
Sharing her experience and expertise on enterprise and jobs, Ms. Riza Mantaring, Lead Independent Director of Ayala Corporation, BPI, and First Philippine Holdings, stressed the importance of supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in their digital transformations by providing infrastructure, skills, capital, and resources, emphasizing the role of the private sector in doing so.
“For MSMEs, their number one problem is really resources. They don’t have the resources to go digital—money, financial technology, and human resources. So, for corporations, what you can do is help them with those resources. Partnering with the government is really important because even if we do try to give as much as we can through CSR, it’s the government that has the resources, the scale, and the size to be able to make a significant impact,” she pointed out.
Ms. Raya Bidshahri, the School of Humanity’s Founder and CEO, emphasized the significance of interdisciplinary thinking for future leaders. She encouraged organizations to promote cross-disciplinary thinking in their teams and in their learning and development programs, so they can innovate the way they communicate, problem-solve, and strategize.
“So, I encourage all of you to step outside of your comfort zone in your intellectual pursuits. Even if it’s without an agenda, read a book about something that’s completely outside of your discipline. Listening to that podcast might not actually help you professionally, but all of these kinds of interdisciplinary connections do ultimately allow us to be more creative thinkers,” she stressed.
For climate action, Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) discussed the Philippines’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She also noted the partnership between the DENR and the Aboitiz Foundation in environmental initiatives such as the A-Park program, Race To Reduce program, rehabilitation of the San Juan River and Boracay Wetland No. 4, Aboitiz Cleanergy Park, Pawikan Center and its commitment to the Water Alliance Coalition.
“The Foundation is a valued partner in the implementation of programs that promote the protection and conservation of the environment, biodiversity, and our natural resources,” she underscored.
In terms of policy reforms, Secretary Rex Gatchalian of the Department of Social Welfare and Development underlined the importance of foundations like the Aboitiz Foundation and the private sector providing technical skills and resources to assist vulnerable communities and informal sector members in becoming self-sufficient.
“I realized that the national government cannot do it on its own. We need force multipliers, natural allies like foundations, like yourself, to make things better for our country. Maybe if we’re going to draw purely from our own resources and our own technical know-how, we’ll get nothing done. But when we synergize or when we get everybody together, each with their own distinct competencies, then we can get the country moving along,” he added.
During the conference, beneficiaries of several Aboitiz Foundation programs also shared their inspiring stories. Ms. Emma Gulocan, General Manager of the Thanksgiving Multi-Purpose Cooperative, shared the remarkable journey of their cooperative since its partnership with the Foundation began in 2011.
Meanwhile, Mr. Maurice Ondoy described the transformative impact of his scholarship from Cotabato Light and Power Company, also sharing his inspiring journey from a challenging upbringing to achieving numerous personal and career milestones. Finally, Administrator Darwin Manubag, who represented Mayor Frederick Siao of Iligan City, discussed how the Aboitiz Foundation’s Disaster Resilience Program assisted the city in becoming more climate resilient.
The foundation conference’s success resonated in the transformative insights and learnings attendees embraced, fueling their drive to reshape today and craft a brighter future for the next generation.