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Clarifications

Some of you have probably seen the articles on the newspaper featuring me as an “MVP”. This is part of Pharmaton’s campaign to encourage more people to make valuable contributions to society. I liked the campaign because I’ve always believed that private institutions can and should use their resources to help the public good in a way that also makes sense from a marketing perspective. I say this because I believe that for any relationship to work, whether it’s a marriage, a friendship, for work, or even for inter-organizational or inter-sectoral areas, it has to be a win-win situation. You cannot sustain a relationship when one party is always winning and the other is always losing. This is something we’ve always realized and respected in the foundations we are a part of: collaborate and look for a win-win. Based on the feedback and participation of people in the Pharmaton MVP campaign, I would say this is a good example of big business serving the public good as well as their private bottom-line – which isn’t a bad thing since they’re a business after all.

There are two things I want to say though regarding the campaign, two things I want to clarify. Sometimes, well actually, many times, media makes things bigger than they really are and more amazing than reality and that’s why I’m writing this.¬†

First things first, I didn’t found or co-found Real LIFE. Dr. Joey Castro did when he started helping the students in Pasig. It wasn’t called Real LIFE yet. It wasn’t called anything. But the spirit of what would become Real LIFE began with him back then, and it’s the spirit where seeds are planted. My involvement started when I graduated from the Ateneo and joined Dr. Joey to help “organize” (if that’s what you call organizing) his program into a foundation that was named Real LIFE. I guess this is where the mixup happens, because not many people knew about what Dr. Joey was doing before the whole Real LIFE “institutionalizing” and “branding” took effect and had Doc and I closely associated. I want to be clear about this, not because this matters to Doc, the guy is the humblest man I know and doesn’t care about these things, but because it matters to me that Doc gets the credit he deserves.

Second, aside from Doc’s work, Real LIFE has grown as fast as it has thanks to the leadership of Lynn Nawata and our very hardworking team Sony, Vince, Rhia (who was our first team member), and Ariel. I recently had lunch with Doc and we were talking about how proud we are of this team, and how they’ve taken Real LIFE to a level of organizational excellence the two of us could never have brought it to. The Real LIFE Center stands today because of their handwork, as well as the dedication of Mailleen Hern who recently passed away. We have more scholars than ever because of them too. The LIFE Program exists because of their research and execution. Again, this doesn’t matter to them, but it matters to me that they get the credit.

Some of you might ask, “So what was your part?” Well, I was the big-haired guy in the video. Seriously, the way I see it, Doc lit a candle, which I took and set a few hearts on fire, which Lynn and the team took and turned it into a flamethrower.

I’m writing this so that we won’t miss the essence of the Pharmaton MVP campaign, which is all about celebrating the contributions of everybody and highlighting that each of us in our own way can make a difference. You don’t have to do something big, you can start small. You don’t have to be special, you’re already a valuable part of the mix. I’m also writing this so that people don’t start thinking I’m this super guy – which is an expectation I’m bound to let down. I’m just blessed to have worked with good people and to be a part of things greater than me. Other than that there really is nothing big about me.¬†

Well, maybe except my hair.