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Celebrating nation-builders

It has now become tradition to celebrate the life journey of my father every year in July through the Ramon V. del Rosario Awards, which honor men and women who have an underlying passion for nation-building. I am certain that my father, fondly remembered as RVR, was most pleased with this year’s awards night and its honoree, who was joined by five younger men and women who became the first RVR Siklab awardees.

At this year’s evening of honor, I encouraged everyone to celebrate 10 years of the RVR Award for Nation-Building, the 1st year of the RVR Siklab Awards for younger leaders, our honorees and their contributions to building a better Philippines and the partnerships that make possible our annual search for individuals who can inspire the best out of more and more Filipinos, both the young and not so young.

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Dr. Aristotle “Aris” Alip is this year’s RVR Nation-Building Awardee, and young leaders Clarissa Delgado, Edgar Elago, Gary Ayuste, Melissa Yap and JB Tan shared the limelight with Dr. Aris as they were recognized onstage at the ballroom of the iconic Manila Polo Club in Makati. More about our younger Siklab Awardees in a future column. Allow me to focus on the amazing journey of Dr. Aris that spans no less than 32 years of efforts aimed at effectively eradicating poverty.

Dr. Alip is a Filipino entrepreneur and the founder and managing director of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions or CARD-MRI, a group of companies composed of a foundation, a bank, a microinsurance provider, a development institute and a business development service. The shock and awe comes from the fact that from just P20 and a small loan from his father 32 years ago, Dr. Alip’s CARD-MRI now boasts of a network presence in over 80 provinces nationwide, serving over 6 million poor families with a loan portfolio of close to P25 billion. The even more positively staggering number is a repayment rate of 99.63 percent. Even our best-performing commercial banks do not come close to this almost perfect score.

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Dr. Alip often explains that he only gives loans to women because they are responsible borrowers and jokingly adds, “let us not even talk of the men.” Today, CARD-MRI has a total asset base of close to P55 billion, employs over 17,000 staff and insures close to 25 million individuals. An amazing feat of nation-building, indeed! Dr. Alip proudly proclaims that they are serving close to 25 percent of all Filipinos, most of whom are from the poorer sectors of society.

The RVR Awards is not the first award-giving body to recognize Dr. Alip’s and CARD-MRI’s success in addressing poverty. On their shelves as well are trophies and plaques from the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Cory Aquino’s People Power Recognition Award, Grameen Foundation, USA and the USAID Flame of Excellence Awards, among others.

In accepting his award, Dr. Alip very humbly expressed that he never expected to join the ranks of the RVR past awardees that include Diosdado Banatao (2018), George S.K. Ty (2017), Henry Sy Sr. (2016), Manuel V. Pangilinan (2015), Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (2014), Vicente Paterno (2013), Washington Sycip (2012), Oscar Lopez (2011), and Senen Bacani and Ambassador Jesus Tambunting (2010). He even implied that he did not deserve such an honor.

When he was called up the stage, however, after a well-done video on his life prepared by the Junior Chamber International Manila (the cofounder of the RVR Award for Nation-Building), Dr. Alip received a long standing ovation from the audience of 230 that included Jaime Zobel, Manny Pangilinan, Senen Bacani and Ambasador Chuching Tambunting, who were all probably reassuring Dr. Alip: “No, sir, it is us who are humbled tonight by what you have accomplished, and we salute you and are honored to have you among our ranks.”

The RVR awards have been here since 2010, and the Del Rosario family, together with the Phinma Group, JCI Manila, AIM RVR Center for Corporate Responsibility and DLSU RVR College of Business, intend to keep giving our fellow Filipinos reasons to celebrate nation-building through the life journeys of our honorees.

Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. is president and CEO of Phinma and former chair of Makati Business Club.

Business Matters is a project of Makati Business Club ([email protected]).

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TAGS: nation-building, Ramon V. del Rosario Awards, RVR Siklab awardees
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