Lopez Group chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez and FPH VP Benjamin R. Lopez lead the Walk the Talk attendees in performing the mandatory warm-up exercisesEight years ago, hundreds of kapamilya embarked on the path to wellness by way of a project championed by then Lopez Group chairman Oscar M. Lopez (OML). As early as 1997, OML had put a wellness policy in place in First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH), a response to the demise of executives Renato Diaz and Luis Mirasol; Diaz, in particular, was only 46.
As the Executive Recharging and Training program, the initiative soon expanded to cover all Lopez Group executives. Another expansion, this time covering the whole Lopez Group, resulted in the effort being renamed as the Corporate Wellness Program.
OML had recalled the genesis of the Lopez Group corporate wellness initiative in a speech during his 75th birthday celebration in 2005.
“In the long term, I believe a healthier workforce can mean not only lower direct health care costs but also reduced absenteeism and higher productivity in our group of companies,” he stated.
PH chairman Federico R. Lopez (right) and other Lopez Group executives limber up for the walk aheadA year later, Walk the Talk (WTT), which gathers employees and their family for a morning of “walking for personal fitness,” was formally launched as a core activity of the new Lopez Lifelong Wellness program. “Lifelong” was then headed by First Philippine Infrastructure Development Corporation president Rafael M. Alunan III.
In 2010, employee welfare and wellness was enshrined in the Lopez Credo as one of the seven Lopez Values, alongside a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, business excellence, unity, nationalism, social justice, and integrity.
This September 20, all roads will lead to First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) in Sto. Tomas, Batangas as Walk the Talk, now organized by the Lopez Group HR Council with Lopez Lifelong Wellness, celebrates its eighth anniversary.
Surrounded by colleagues and with family and friends, Lopez Group Foundation Inc.’s Angela Lopez is all smilesAs many as 800 participants are expected to show up for the celebration, which will also fete the cycle’s 46 Perfect Attendance awardees and the most consistent companies as they reap the fruits of their dedication to the monthly walk.
Other highlights are a raffle draw, special performances and the traditional anniversary treeplanting activity within FPIP.
Demonstration of unity
Cedie Lopez Vargas, HR Council head and a frequent WTT participant, observed: “Over the past eight years, Walk the Talk has evolved from being just a wellness activity to being a demonstration of the Lopez Value of unity.
“It’s also a fun and invigorating way to spend your Saturday morning, walking with your family and friends while meeting new people,” Vargas added.
Lopez Holdings president Salvador G. Tirona and the LHC team arrive early for the walkOML, of course, to this day makes it a point to join the activity. The chairman emeritus still cuts an impressive figure on the trails, prompting employees to tell themselves: “If OML can do it, so can I.”
A WTT traditionally starts with the onsite registration, with the host company for the month fortifying the walkers with light pre-breakfast fare.
The walk proper is prefaced by a short program that includes the recitation of the Lopez Credo and Values, safety reminders and a 10- to 15-minute warm-up.
Representatives from the Lopez family as well as executives from the host company are usually on hand to encourage the walkers and remind them of the objectives of the activity.
A walk typically covers a distance of five to six kilometers depending on the venue. Meanwhile, safety and security as well as medical concerns are covered by the 15-person emergency response team of Energy Development Corporation (EDC), while an ambulance from either ABS-CBN or the Philippine Red Cross are on standby.
To show their camaraderie and company pride, some Lopez Group contingents wear unified shirtsBack at the starting line, the participants recharge with a heartier meal before dispersing for the day.
Tried and tested locations
Despite the seeming seamlessness of every Walk the Talk, putting together such an activity for hundreds of people is not exactly a walk in the park.
“Immediately after a Walk the Talk, we start thinking of the next one,” shares the HR Council’s Dimpy Jazmines.
Jazmines, of SKYcable, Germaine de Castro of EDC, TJ Isla of ABS-CBN and Anthony Peñalosa of Rockwell make up the current WTT team, taking over from FPH HR Ross Hamo about a year ago.
While there is no designated leader among the four of them, each member has gravitated towards tasks that play to their strengths: Jazmines takes care of communications and strategic thinking, De Castro is the online presence, Isla coordinates within ABS-CBN whenever there is a need for Kapamilya talents, and Peñalosa is in charge of the warm-up and other planning needs.
The HR Council’s Cedie Lopez Vargas leads a group in navigating an uphill trailAt the start of the year, the team plots out possible venues for one cycle, mixing up tried and tested locations such as FPIP, Eugenio Lopez Center and Forest Hills with new venues.
Each venue is matched with prospective sponsors—a big company or a combination of smaller ones—which will host the program as well as provide the pre- and post-walk meals. Jazmines then presents this to the HR Council.
The dearth of fresh settings is one of the challenges constantly confronting the team. Which is why wherever they hear about a new place nowadays, notes De Castro, they would ask themselves one question: “Pang-Walk the Talk ba yan?”
A location is inspected right before the walk to determine its suitability or, in the case of staple venues such as FPIP, to craft a different route.
The Rockwell team always lends a great presence during each Walk the Talk event—they are the ones who take care of facilitating all the warm-up exercises“Sometimes, because of weather or other considerations, or if there is a request to do a certain venue first, we can also adjust,” Jazmines says.
The Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs Site Museum walk in July, for example, was originally meant to be done over the summer. But their reconnaissance revealed an open, treeless space that would “toast” walkers in high-30s temperatures.
“When we finally went there, it happened to be cloudy,” De Castro says.
Today, aside from boosting its portfolio of exciting new venues, the four-person team is also looking forward to molding the next generation of leaders that will help run the Walk the Talk program many years down the line.
The attendees from the various Lopez companies arrive, sometimes in busloads, eager to join the activity with colleagues, family and friends“We have to train people. We hope Walk the Talk continues to be a sustainable activity where we practice our applicable Values, particularly unity, employee welfare and wellness and integrity,” Jazmines says.