The Philippines is no stranger to problems of every stripe, from natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes to social issues like poverty and homelessness. But in every crisis, of course, there is opportunity. For all the challenges that our country faces, there are thousands of unsung heroes doing everything in their power to uplift the nation. They are flag-bearers of Filipino resilience.
Unfortunately, such changemakers do not get highlighted enough. A new book from Bookshelf PH, a publishing house in the Philippines focused on books, eBooks, and audiobooks aim to bring more attention to their work and the organizations they serve. Entitled Planting Greatness: Organizations Accelerating Social Impact in the Philippines, this work features change-makers of all kinds, including social entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, heads of corporate social responsibility, and more.
According to Kyle Nate, the managing editor of Planting Greatness, the diversity of voices was intentional.
“We want to showcase the many different ways that people are making an impact in the Philippines, so readers can find inspiration on their own journey to make a difference. On top of serving as a positive model, we want readers—and even the featured leaders—to recognize best practices that cut across all organizational types,” said Nate, who has worked extensively with writers and brands to bring their books to market.
In addition to the thirty plus featured business leaders, Planting Greatness includes a foreword from Jose Luis Oquiñena, the chairman of Gawad Kalinga (GK), one of the foremost pioneers of social entrepreneurship in the Philippines, and Vicky Morales, veteran journalist and host of Wish Ko Lang!
Morales emphasized the importance of exposing oneself to positive stories in the media.
“It’s important to listen to our nation’s best changemakers and do our best to emulate them by paying it forward. By doing our small part to perform good deeds for others, we plant seeds of kindness, all of which will find their way to the people we care about the most and perpetuate the spirit of Filipino bayanihan,” said Morales.
The range of companies featured in the book is wide and includes organizations beyond just social enterprises and foundations, such as corporates like Q2 HR Solutions, which was profiled for its Housepoints System. The company divides itself into 4 houses—similar to British School Manila’s system, or yes, Harry Potter—with each earning points by demonstrating company values, including as it relates to corporate social responsibility.
“We were eager to share our Housepoints System started by our founder Brendan John Whyte. While we know it may not be for everyone, we hope that it gives business leaders an idea of how they can incentivize social impact at their workplaces. As our peers in the book show, there really are a world of ways to get Filipinos excited about giving,” said Med Sali-Gelacio, Q2’s HR Director.
One of the key messages in the book was turning to an organization’s core competencies, products, or services to make giving most efficient. One such example comes from none other than Victoria Court. The famed motel contributes to the gentrification of its communities by adopting nearby schools, and even turned its facilities into quarantine centers during the pandemic, among many initiatives through both the company itself as well as its charitable arm, Angelo King Foundation Inc.
“It’s easy to think of social impact as something that must be done on top of your core business. But we see it—and we hope more do as well—as a key activity: By working hard to give back to our communities, we can create an environment in which we recognize the interconnectedness of all stakeholders, and contribute to everyone’s shared welfare,” said Victoria Court Owner Atticus King.
GK Chairman Oquiñena touches upon this idea in his foreword for Planting Greatness, and it’s one that’s reflected in Bookshelf PH’s partnership with NGO’s Maleta Library. A portion of the proceeds from Planting Greatness will be used to fund the purchase of maleta libraries, which are mobile libraries that provide educational books to under-privileged children who would otherwise not have access to them.
That the book is itself a channel for social impact is a positive signal to Oquiñena.
“I hope the showcase of changemakers in the book leads to more collaboration among the leaders, readers, and anyone who wants to make an impact. The next few years are pivotal to the development of the Philippines, and it’ll take more cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary approaches to solving the greatest problems facing our nation,” said Oquiñena, who explicitly welcomed collaborations with GK.
The book can be purchased here: bit.ly/PlantingGreatnessBook