Filipino giving

angaraTHE 2011 State of Philanthropy in Asia report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) noted that among the five economies studied (China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore), the Philippines had the longest recorded history of organized giving.

As early as the 16th Century, the Catholic Church channeled much of the endowments from the wealthy to the obras pias—literally, pious works—which were charitable foundations that took care of orphans, the sick and the elderly, and also helped finance and underwrite the cargo of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.

After the trade ended in 1815, some obras pias funds were funneled to the first banks of the Philippines, including the Monte de Piedad (Mount of Piety), founded by the Spanish Franciscan friar Felix Huerta. With the backing of the Archdiocese of Manila and Governor General Domingo Moriones Murillo, Huerta set up the Monte de Piedad in 1882 patterned after the pawnbroker institutions across Europe at the time that loaned to the poor at modest interest rates.

During the American occupation, Protestant missions brought their own charitable traditions founding hospices, hospitals, schools and orphanages.

In 1901 the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions founded what would become Siliman University in Dumaguete.  Four years later, the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society laid the beginnings of Central Philippine University in Iloilo City with a sizable grant from American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller.

Today, institutional giving in the Philippines remains dynamic.  A 2014 Singapore Management University study on philanthropy in Southeast Asia finds that the Philippine philanthropic sector is fairly mature compared to its neighbors, noting that the Constitution explicitly recognizes civil society’s developmental role.

Since Forbes Asia started its annual listing of Asian philanthropy heroes in 2004, Filipino entrepreneurs and taipans have consistently been cited.

Techno-entrepreneur Dado Banatao was recognized in 2015 for making a $1.5-million grant to the Philippine Development Foundation, which he set up to help reduce poverty through education, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In 2014 Enrique Razon Jr. of the International Container Terminal Services Inc.  was cited for initiating efforts to rebuild areas devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda, including the Tacloban airport, and raising $5.7 million for a hospital.

In the same year, Ricardo S. Po. Sr., founder and chairman of the Century Pacific Group, was recognized for his work with the CPG-RSPo Foundation that helps serve up to 3 million meals a year to schoolchildren.

Last December the SM Foundation—the social development arm of the SM group of companies—was given the Outstanding Exemplar in the Private Sector Award for the various programs in education, health care, livelihood, shelter and environmental protection that the foundation has been supporting since 1983.

The Outstanding Exemplar Award is given out annually by the media forum Bulong Pulungan to individuals from both government and private sector who have made significant contributions to society.

To celebrate his 60th birthday last year, Hans Sy, SM Prime Holdings president, inaugurated a six-story building in Paco, Manila, which he donated to CHILD Haus (Center for Health Improvement and Life Development)—the half-way house run by beauty expert Ricky Reyes for indigent children stricken with cancer.

Filipino philanthropy is alive and vibrant.





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