Nationalism is a trait most popularly and overtly seen in the life (and death) of our self-sacrificing heroes, the likes of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Gregorio del Pilar, Gomburza, Ninoy Aquino, and the list goes on. It is also an outgrowth of the sacrifices of some of our Filipino overseas contract workers, many of whom suffer not just loneliness and homesickness but untold cruelties inflicted by insensitive and inhumane employers, causing some to go home to their families in coffins.
On the brighter side, nationalism is that pride we feel when the Philippines sends Manny Pacquiao to Las Vegas to handle another boxing match, having faith that he will win it. It is what gives us that confidence of the beauty of every Filipina when a Binibining Pilipinas competes for the Ms. Universe and Ms. World crowns, knowing that she will be chosen for one of the top five slots.
One looks at the admirable display and proof of nationalism of these heroes, heroines, brawn and beauties, and reflect on how an ordinary Lopez Group employee can come close to performing such deeds deserving national pride. A tall order, one would expect, but not next to impossible.
Brands and Branding
We speak of brands when we purchase personal consumables, appliances, gadgets and even cars. There are brands that we prefer because we believe that these are the ones that last. We prefer an Apple Mac to an Acer or Toshiba. We prefer an IPad to a Samsung Tab. We prefer Crocs or Flipflops to Spartan or Beach sandals. We prefer Samsonite to an unknown brand, and why? It’s because of the brand. “Choose the branded item,” is the advice that we normally receive, and most of the time, we take heed regardless of the cost. The brand equals good quality.
Let’s take another aspect of branding. When a cattle owner in, for example, Australia,Colorado, or even Besao, Mountain Province, brands its cattle, what happens? The skin of the cattle is seared with hot iron. Each cattle receives a distinctive mark of the owner, for which it is identified. The brand sets cattle apart from unbranded ones.
Similarly, the Lopez Group of Companies’ brand of nationalism makes it stand out from among the rest, the brand that is bred out of intense persecution from among the wealthy, the learned and the powerful.
How then does one acquire that Lopez Group brand of nationalism and express it in his daily routine as an employee?
Brands of Nationalism
First, as soon as one decides to be a Lopez Group employee, one must decide and commit himself to nationalism as an ideal. This means deciding within one’s self to stick it out to being a Kapamilya and being one with the commitment to serve and continue serving the Filipino citizenry through thick and thin, through profits and losses, through accolades and criticism. This ongoing decision is made year after year after year, amidst the many attractive job opportunities that abound locally and abroad, and with each decision to stay comes the faith that whether net earnings before or after income taxes escalates or even slides down, the Lopez Group of Companies will still come out unscathed and raring to face further challenges. This first branding is the brand of personal choice.
Second is the branding of excellence and humility. A Lopez Group employee must be able to identify for himself his main role in the Company to be able to perform excellently. Is he built to become a leader or simply a follower? It is not a matter of just proving his work worth in order to receive a job promotion and consequently higher pay, but knowing in which place in the Company he can use what he knows. Coupled with the challenge of achieving peak performance and job specialization is the greater challenge of knowing when to humble down and submit to one’s superiors, and knowing when to take on leadership responsibilities without displaying pride and selfishness. It is the realization that one does not know everything to build this country and this Company, and the acceptance of the truth that one needs to work hand-in-hand with others to achieve any end.
Third, as one immerses himself with his daily work, little by little he starts familiarizing himself with the values being espoused by the Company. In listening to regular inspirational messages from the Lopez Group patriarch during Christmases, Group-wide anniversaries and wellness activities, one is slowly branded the third nationalistic brand: that of loyalty coupled with integrity. This branding if not ingrained, is learned and applied quickly as one deals every day with both clients, partners and service providers alike. One begins to realize that the face that every employee shows every time he/she answers the phone composes emails, or attends external meetings, is the face of the Lopez Group. This face must always reflect the pride that one is upholding not just the Company, but also the Filipino people. This face must not reflect haughtiness but simple unquestionable honesty and integrity in every transaction, the kind that not only earns the respect of others, but one realizes begins to change one from the inside as well. As one gets to be branded with this loyalty to the Company and integrity on the job, he feels awed at the new feeling this gives him, wondering why this seemingly invisible albeit gentle pressure to be honest in business dealings does not seem to exist in many other Companies. How could it be possible that in the Lopez Group atmosphere, one is continually aware of an invisible strict father and disciplinarian, whispering loyalty and honesty in one’s daily work?
And the Lopez Group invisible branding continues with the fourth, as one starts to get branded, or slowly gets used, to the nationalistic way of doing the “little things”. What are these little things? The little things are those which many take for granted, but when one takes notice, these also count in the daily life of a Lopez Group employee. The little things include wearing one’s Company uniform on the assigned day, taking care of Company supplies and equipment, turning off lights when not in use, and participating actively in Benpres Building fire and earthquake exit drills. This brand of nationalism includes a cheery “Good Morning” when answering the office phone, or a smile and a “How-are-you” small chat with the person who cleans the comfort rooms, or greeting Billy, who waters the plants. This also includes listening to DZMM on your way to work, following the ABS-CBN telenovelas after work, and buying original Filipino DVDs. This brand includes purchasing proudly-Filipino-made shoes, bags, jewelry, soaps and shampoos. And yes, this brand of “little things” nationalism also includes utilizing those recyclable Lopez Group bags we receive every Christmas to the grocery or the mall while one shops, wearing that Lopez Group t-shirt proudly while you jog, as well as spending much of those hard-earned pesos or even dollars on Philippine tourist destination vacation stops.
The fifth and final brand of nationalism for a Lopez Group employee speaks of that unwavering faith in achieving the impossible; that determination to believe that one can climb the highest peaks despite unimaginable hurdles and difficulties. It is the same wisdom of a mustard seed faith that can move mountains, as written in the Bible. This is the quality that is most of the time done in the most secret of places, where one communes with the Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Eternal God, to Whom one must seek the strength, the talent and the wisdom one needs to receive the above brands. This is the brand of nationalism that is comes handy when a little country such as ours is being bullied by warships from a giant country or when some of the 7,100 islands are in threat of missile debris from another country. The interesting thing about this final brand, though seemingly invisible and unseen and immeasurable, is that this is the one that completes the nationalistic Lopez Group employee, and if every Lopez Group employee is able to achieve this, then there’s no doubting the future of this Group for many, many years to come.
One need not be a Jose Rizal or a Ninoy Aquino to achieve greatness in the Lopez Group or this country. One needs only to choose commitment amids pressure. One must choose to perform the hidden greatness in an excellent job even when no one notices one’s work. One must choose to be loyal and honest. One must choose to do the little things that matter big. Finally, one must choose to pray . Even such a flicker of light in the surrounding darkness accompanies a glimmer of hope that it may someday be multiplied and emulated.
Evamaria Cecilia Estigoy-Lobitaña joined First Philippine Electric Corporation (FPEC) in 1996 as Office/Administrative Assistant. She graduated with an AB Management Economics degree from Ateneo De Manila University. She was a full time scholar of the Ateneo Scholarship Foundation.
Eva is a mother of three sons. Two are currently scholars of Ateneo and UP. Her eldest, Paolo, is a scholar of Ateneo School Parent’s Council (ASPAC), DOST, and part of the Director’s list (top 200 of ACET exams). He is taking up BS Chemistry: Materials Science Engineering. Carlo, her second, is also a scholar of DOST and is pursuing a degree in BS ECE at UP. Elijah, her youngest, is in Grade 2 at Provident Christian School
Eva is also active with her social commitments being a member of Breath of Life Tabernacle, and a Bronze Order Member of Order of the Blue Eagles in Ateneo De Manila University. She passed the Civil Service Professional Eligibility and Civil Sub-Professional Eligibility exams. (by Evamaria Cecilia E. Lobitaña)