Bill Ford once said, “Creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals—they are both essential ingredients for long-term success.”

While businesses may not see corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a necessity or priority, it must be integral to the operation of any business.

CSR pertains to the company’s social obligation to benefit the immediate community per se and the broader society. A CSR program is usually undertaken to contribute to the welfare of the people by sharing the business resources with them.

CSR is taken up because of the positive effects on gainfulness despite the costs attached to it. The distributive impact is how an organization assumes liability for the social effects of doing business in the target community.

CSR activities in Cebu

In a study published in the Asian Review of Social Sciences in 2019, the authors found out that entities engaging in CSR activities are One reason for this is the required budgetary outlay, which means an additional organizational expense.

These are well-established firms and have already penetrated the local market. They can afford the costs of undertaking social programs. While there are no guidelines or requirements in setting the CSR budget, it ranges from Php100,000 to more than Php 1 million. Financial planning begins at 2% of the total marketing budget.

Among the CSR initiatives of Cebu-based businesses are:

These activities involve a target community and the people belonging to that community. The goal is to identify and address their real and felt needs, which are perceived to make social programs sustainable. When actual needs are met, the continuous participation of the target community can be expected.

How CSR programs benefit businesses

In the same study, the two major benefits of CSR are identified as 1) public image and 2) business sustainability.

Having a CSR program improves business reputation. Since it forms part of goodwill, the program alone contributes greatly to the patronage of the company’s products and services. A positive reaction to philanthropic works is expected. Customers would want to associate themselves with companies that give back to the community.

The willingness to spend on these firms’ products and services is high as their contributory means. As such, the social obligation of the firm is to convey an incentive to participate. That is even when the consumers do not intend to partake in the first place.

The presence of a solid customer base is sufficient for long-term business continuity because of its patronage. CSR programs are instrumental in this sense. They ensure continued business for as long as possible because of the patrons. These are the people who share the same philosophy of helping others.

If there is one thing people hold in common, it is the desire to make communities better than what they are now. In a report published by The Berkeley Group, CSR helps in attracting, engaging, and retaining consumers. About 87% of the consumers would purchase from a company that aligns with the social issues they care about, while 75% would refuse to buy if the company supports issues contrary to their values and beliefs.

In the business world, this is called strategic imitation, wherein companies purposefully copy other companies’ processes and activities. The goal of ‘copying’ is to fulfill a strategic goal.

CSR transcends beyond scale, scope, and nature of business. If you earn income from the general public, it is only suitable to give back. This is fundamental to the craving of humankind. As such, CSR should be at the center of organizational values.

CSR in the Philippines

As outlined in the Corporate Social Responsibility in the Promotion of Social Development, there have been CSR activities in the Philippines since the 1950s. Its early forms were corporate philanthropic works, donating to churches, hospitals, orphanages, and the like.

In 1958, the government created a policy through the recommendation of the National Science Development Board. Such policy offered tax incentives for private businesses contributing to. The contributions must be certified for the company to be entitled to tax deductions. This led to the creation of corporate foundations.

These philanthropic were ongoing until the 1970s when CSR became a strategic imperative. Discussions within the business community strengthened during these times. The goal of business leaders then was to invest in social development to promote the nation’s wellbeing.

In 1972, about 50 companies pledged an amount to s, equivalent to 1% of the preceding year’s net income. About 20% of the total contributions were channeled towards the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

PBSP was founded by Eddie Aboitiz and ten of the subsidiaries of Aboitiz & Company. PBSP is a non-profit, non-stock organization committed to helping low-income communities while also strengthening the corporate-community relationship.

Three decades after its founding, PBSP had 180 members with a total of Php164.17 million in 2003. The contributions are from corporate benefactors and donor agencies.

A socially responsible partner in Cebu

Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., or simply RAFI, is a formidable force in Cebu when it comes to CSR. RAFI is a CSR partner in Cebu whose mantra is to elevate the dignity of man through implementing solutions that “enable people to achieve higher levels of wellbeing.”

CSR is in RAFI’s DNA. PBSP, for one, is Eddie Aboitiz’s legacy. Furthermore, PBSP promotes a community development approach to CSR.

Aboitiz Group of Companies is one of the largest conglomerates in Cebu. It has a presence in the energy, banking, shipping, and real estate industries. RAFI is the family foundation, while the Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (AFI) serves as the corporation’s social development arm.

The overall management of RAFI lies in the fourth generation of the Aboitiz clan, with Mikel Alberto Aboitiz as the board chairman. The current programs include micro-finance, education, leadership and capability development, culture and heritage, health, early childhood development, culture and heritage, humanitarian disaster preparedness and response, and environmental preservation through One to Tree.

A focus on One to Tree

Tree planting is considered a less costly CSR activity, but the compounding benefits of this activity are undeniable. Such benefits trickle through all layers of society.

It is true they say that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. But PBSP has initiated such activities more than thirty years ago. For example, in 1987, PSBP Visayas Regional Operations partnered with the Cebu City government to assist in the Cebu Hillyland Development Project (CHDP), a reforestation initiative with tree planting as the main activity. Furthermore, in 1990, PBSP Visayas, with Executive Committee chair Erramon Aboitiz, launched the “Adopt-a-Hectare” initiative to establish nurseries for seedlings production and eventual hectare by hectare reforestation with the help of private companies.

Today, RAFI’s tree planting initiative is realized through One to Tree. The organization aims to assist in creating a more sustainable future by growing native trees. The native ecosystem has been negatively affected by decades of deforestation and illegal logging activities.

With over ten years of growing native trees, One to Tree partners with students, local residents, and communities. The organization integrates the habit of appreciating and growing native trees while supporting the livelihood of the locals.

Why native trees, you may ask. Native trees are trees that naturally grow in the area. These are generally better for the environment. First, plants and animals flourish around these trees. Second, they help prevent soil erosion since native trees’ roots grow deeper in the soil.

One to Tree has a native tree nursery located in Sitio Roosevelt, Busay, Cebu City. Narra, Molave, Kaningag, Kalimutain, and Mamalis seedlings that individuals may plant in their own backyard can be bought directly from the nursery (though One to Tree highly encourages people to contact them first for pre-scheduling).

As of June 2021, One to Tree has planted 8.32 million upland native trees and 1.27 mangrove seedlings spread across 10,410 hectares of land. The planted seedlings have a guaranteed survival rate of 80%.

Society expects the social advancement of the organizations. Every organization has a social duty, as an obligation to the community it serves. However, not all companies act upon these duties. RAFI understands how and why CSR is integral to its operations.

Cebuanos love food and take pride in the delicious dishes the island has to offer, but it is no secret that many local food favorites have been influenced by foreign flavors and cooking techniques, especially after centuries of colonization and contact with other cultures.

Learn more about Spain’s lasting influences in local cuisine in a Gabii sa Kabilin webinar on July 30, 3 p.m. entitled “From SUTUKIL to KUMBIRA: 300 years of culinary history during the Spanish colonial period”.

The webinar’s speaker will be food historian, Ms. Louella Alix, a staunch advocate of preserving Cebu’s cuisine. She has written several books including “Hikay, The Culinary Heritage of Cebu” that delves into the history of local dishes and Cebuanos’ love of food. Alix was also a columnist for Cebu Daily News and host of its digital cooking show, Tastes of Cebu.

The webinar will be streamed on Gabii sa Kabilin’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, as well as the National Quincentennial Committee Facebook page. It will be hosted by RAFI The Kabilin Center. An e-certificate will be given to participants who will answer the registration and evaluation form provided before and after the event, respectively. 

Initiated in 2007 by RAFI, Gabii sa Kabilin aims to help preserve local culture and heritage by encouraging Cebuanos to visit museums. It launched its online activities last year at the onset of the pandemic to help make Cebuano culture and heritage more accessible to the public. For more information and updates, like and follow www.facebook.com/gabiisakabilincebu/.

Steadfast to its mission of addressing the wellbeing gaps on health and nutrition of young children, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. – Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund (RAFI-DACF) joined forces with the Cebu City Nutrition Network (CCNN) to advance the shared goal of being advocates of child nutrition.

The CCNN is a consortium of organizations and government agencies in Cebu City. Organized last April 2021, this partnership commenced with the technical working group composed of the Cebu City Nutrition Council (CCNC) with RAFI-DACF as a member.

An orientation and covenant signing was held last May 20 at the BP Cebu Multipurpose Hall in Brgy. Mabolo, Cebu City, setting the seal of commitment with new partner organizations to collaborate and synergize initiatives aimed to address the pressing concerns of early childhood malnutrition in Cebu City. This was participated by 24 CCNN partners from non-government organizations, Cebu City government departments, and national agencies.

To help reduce malnutrition in Cebu City by 30% in 2023, RAFI-DACF, CCNN Partner for Child Nutrition Advocacies

The goal of the CCNN is to reduce the number of malnourished children aged 0-59 months in Cebu City by 30% by 2023. This can be achieved through the implementation of partner organization’s programs and initiatives that will: improve the nutritional status of 0-59 months old children by 70%; implement health and nutrition activities for mothers and caretakers in the selection of proper food and correct amount of food, and educate mothers and pregnant women on the importance of the first 1000 days.

Riella Christa Guioguio, RAFI’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) shared that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic brought families to all-time high, leaving a negative effect on the nutrition of young children. This has led organizations, including RAFI, to shift their resources and attention to early nutrition.

“The creation of the consortium is a big achievement for Cebu City and we should all be working to address this huge issue of early childhood malnutrition in our society. We can act as a big brother or big sister to one another – that way, we capacitate each other by sharing resources, strengths, expertise, finances, and be able to address the issue of malnutrition among young children,” shared Guioguio.

Emma Seville, CCNC Action Officer also shared: “Great things can be achieved when more people and organizations work together, pooling each other’s resources to function effectively for a common goal.”

CCNN will now proceed with the presentation of programs, projects, and activities of partner organizations and offices, and further identifying areas of collaboration to address the issues on early childhood malnutrition in the city.

These combined efforts and perseverance of various organizations to fight malnutrition will create a more livable and safe community, continuously prioritizing a child’s growth, development, and well-being of children across Cebu.

Trees. These nature-based, climate change-fighting heroes are doing the hard work every day to keep our planet healthy. However, as time goes by, their numbers continue to dwindle leaving communities vulnerable to calamities. To address the growing concern of deforestation, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. – One to Tree (RAFI-OTT) unit has been proactive in its efforts to advance tree planting as a viable solution to promote biodiversity. But as it turns out, it takes a community to grow trees and rebuild our forests. 

Having said that, part of RAFI-OTT’s efforts is to partner with different organizations that hold similar goals with the company. Recently, OTT (One To Tree) has collaborated with Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CIL) and JCI Cebu Sinulog to launch various tree growing campaigns.  

The latter partnership currently utilizes digital technology to scale up the reforestation project. Through its Puno ng Pag-asa program, RAFI-OTT and JCI Cebu Sinulog allow virtual tree growing for JCI members and biodiversity champions from all over the Philippine to purchase seedlings from RAFI Flagship Lazada store. At the end of this year, JCI Cebu Sinulog aims to virtually plant 100,000 trees in the hopes of establishing one native tree nursery in Cebu.  

On the other hand, CLI and RAFI-OTT teamed up for its Native Tree Growing Project. This initiative is a means to promote conservation of the remaining forest cover in the Province of Cebu by encouraging nearby communities to protect and rehabilitate the environment. Within the next four and a half years, the Filipino community will be able to witness the planting of 229,836 native trees of distinct kinds in various locations of VisMin area.  

Moving beyond the environmental benefits of growing trees, One to Tree’s initiative also pays attention to the social implications of its programs. Through its partnerships with different organizations, RAFI-OTT actively provides jobs and supports the livelihoods of our farmers while continuously championing for biodiversity.  

Are you ready to take part in our reforestation journey? Grow a tree with us! For more information on the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. – One  To  Tree (RAFI-OTT) program, visit  www.onetotree.org, www.rafi.org.ph, or  www.facebook.com/rafi.org.ph. 

TOUCHING PEOPLE, SHAPING THE FUTURE. RAFI is a non-government non-profit organization, since 1966, whose mission is to elevate lives by championing best practices in community development in the Philippines. 

RAFI is a non-stock, non-profit organization in Cebu dedicated to elevating the Dignity of Man through solutions that enable people to achieve higher levels of well-being. RAFI’s main program domains include Economic, focused on improving the economic well-being of communities; Social, creating opportunities for growth and improving a sense of identity and purpose; and Physical, building healthy, resilient and livable communities. 

The pandemic may have seen changes and challenges to classroom learning over the past year but this never wavered RAFI’s commitment towards championing for education. 

RAFI’s Education Development Unit partnered with the Department of Education and various LGUs to build safe and conducive classrooms across Cebu. Through EDU’s School Rebuilding Program, nine schools have participated and underwent construction this year alone. The following schools were:  

  • Cordova Centra School  
  • Pilipog Elementary School  
  • Can-abujon Elementary School  
  • Candabong Elementary School  
  • Cabadiangan Integrated School 
  • San Fernando Central School  
  • Pablo Villamera Integrated School  
  • Simeon Ripdos Elementary School  
  • Arpili Elementary School  

The project was approved in 2019, however, due to the pandemic, it temporarily slowed down. According to Program Officer Abigail Pasas, the resumption of RAFI’s School Rebuilding Program is a silver lining in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. “Ang kani nga school will prove to be useful for the students after the pandemic.”  

The road ahead might be difficult, but as we slowly enter into the post-pandemic world, newly constructed schools are awaiting for our young learners once our educational system gives a go signal for face-to-face classes.