Prospects: My dream in a shoe box

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on December 17, 2009

Business executives in the Philippines are increasingly pessimistic about the economy and increasingly optimistic about the economy in six months, according to the results of the most recent monthly survey of the members of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). Confidence in the economy jumped from July to August, and held steady in September with a net 30% confidence level.

But in October, net confidence fell precipitously to 20.4%, and plummeted to 10.2% in November. MAP speculates that the drop may have something to do with Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana outside the Philippines), which flooded much of Metro Manila and the island of Luzon.

Confidence in the economy six months ahead also jumped in the July to August period, and hovered between 52.9% and 54.5% through October. As current economic sentiment sank in November, however, confidence in the economy in six months jumped to more than 67%. There’s probably an argument here to support the notion that when conditions are bad, there’s nowhere to go but up.

The MAP survey was conducted before the Maguindanao massacre, new kidnappings, and a jailbreak in Mindanao in November and early December. As a result of those tragic events-and the subsequent dubious declaration of martial law amid intense international media scrutiny-no one is likely to expect the December survey results to be anything short of absolutely dreadful.

The last quarter of the year in the Philippines is traditionally a happy time of celebration, even in adversity. But the challenges of this quarter are so profoundly dismaying that they have tempered enthusiasm for partying. Some organizations have found other ways to mark the season. One of those is the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P), the umbrella association for the fastest-growing and top job-generating industry for the Philippines, business process outsourcing (BPO).

BPA/P-in partnership with my firm, TeamAsia-has undertaken a project to support the work of CNN Hero of the Year Efren Peñaflorida and his Dynamic Teen Company (DTC). According to BPA/P executive director for industry affairs, Jonathan de Luzuriaga, DTC and Mr. Peñaflorida “are helping us realize how easy it is to help, and how the little that we give can go a long way in helping chart a street child’s future.”

DTC is composed of young people determined to uplift the lives of children in slum areas by educating them. Its mission is to make a difference in areas where children have little or no access to education and basic hygiene, or even the love of their families, according to TeamAsia president Monette Hamlin, who originally proposed the project-inspired by a similar initiative undertaken by a member of the League of Corporate Foundations-to Mr. de Luzuriaga.

“My Dream in a Shoebox” is an initiative intended to enlist the support of the BPO industry to provide Mr. Peñaflorida and DTC with resources required to fulfil their mission. As many have noted in recent weeks, education lies at the heart of the Philippines’ journey to peace and prosperity. The great enabler, education provides the means for young people to develop into productive individuals capable of caring for themselves and their families.

The goal of the initiative is to fill at least 50 pushcarts with more than 100 shoeboxes-care packages filled with educational supplies and treats-to contribute in a small but hopefully meaningful way to changing the lives of more than 5,000 kids for the better.

Response to “My Dream in a Shoebox” has been encouraging. Supporters include BPA/P member companies such as PLDT, SQL*Wizard, IT Pros Asia, ICT Group Philippines, and Teleperformance, and other companies enlisted by TeamAsia such as PACNET, Benpres Holdings, Ang-Hortaleza Foundation, Intellicare, the Philippine International Convention Center, Fluor, SM Discoveries, Binalot, and Children’s Hour.

If you or your company would like to get involved, here’s how: Make your own “My Dream in a Shoebox” package. Take an empty shoebox and wrap the lid and the box separately in recycled newspaper or old gift wrappers. Fill it with at least five to 10 different school supplies, complete a“Santa Form” downloadable from the project website (www.teamasia.com/events/BPAP-TA-Christmas-Outreach-2009/Index.html), insert it in the shoebox, and deliver the box to BPA/P. Suggested supplies include pad paper, notebooks, ball pens, crayons, and pencils.

You can also help by donating other things that DTC needs to more effectively do its work such as toys, umbrellas, sun block, stools, and tables. Cash donations are also accepted. Donations should be delivered to: BPA/P, 9/F Palisades Condominium, 107 Perea Street, Legaspi Village, 1229 Makati City. Donations will be distributed Monday, December 21, 2009 at Club 8586 Center located at 1177 J. Felipe Blvd, Caridad, Cavite City.

Participating is one way to help make certain there is reason to be optimistic about our future. Contact Charm Tan (Mobile: 09273404838; landline 757 3500 loc. 328; e-mail jcptan@teamasia.com).

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