North American insurer marks 120th year in PH | Inquirer Business

North American insurer marks 120th year in PH

01:30 AM February 01, 2015

IT INTRODUCED the concept of insurance to Filipinos in 1895 and has hurdled many challenges since then, including two world wars and local political upheavals that tested its commitment to stay in business in this country.

This year, Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) Inc. will celebrate its 120th year—a milestone which coincides with the 150th founding anniversary of the parent company in Canada.

“To last 120 years in any industry is not an easy feat. And being in a business that is really all about the fulfillment of long-term promises and obligations, not only to our clients but even to their children and future generations, our longevity is something that defines us and sets us apart,” Sun Life president Riza Mantaring said.


To kick off its 120th anniversary celebration, Sun Life acquired naming rights to a 300-seat open-air amphitheater that will rise at the heart of Bonifacio Global City’s cultural district on the corner of 26th Street and 7th Avenue. The Sun Life Amphitheater will be built in partnership with the Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. (Bafi)—the entity behind The Mind Museum, the country’s first world class science museum located in BGC.


Sun Life also had a hand in the Mind Museum’s establishment as it sponsored the ‘Math pocket’ of the institution.

“We’re happy to partner with Bafi in this endeavor of cultivating culture in BGC, home to our corporate headquarters here in the Philippines. Bafi is a company that shares our values and goal of helping Filipinos be their best, be it in art or finances,” Mantaring said during the signing of the deed of donation for the amphitheater. “Sun Life has always supported arts and culture as a valuable component of our society. As Filipinos, it educates us on our national identity; and as individuals, it opens our minds and helps us grow more.”

To acquire the naming rights, Sun Life donated P40 million for the construction of the amphitheatre, which is designed to be an ideal venue for outdoor plays, concerts and other entertainment events. It will be completed by 2017.

A musical play chronicling the company’s rich history and legacy—written by award-winning writer and director Floy Quintos—will also be staged starting February. The play, which targets employees, agents and clients as audience—will be staged in Manila and the provinces.

Planting seeds

Mantaring said Sun Life was very proud of its long history of doing business in the Philippines, in good times or bad.


During the Japanese occupation, she said that Sun Life had operated underground just to be able to continue serving clients.

“Post-war claims amounting to $1.2 million were paid, even without documents attesting to the validity of the claims,” Mantaring said, explaining that many of the supporting documents were lost or destroyed during the war.

This, she said, would attest to Sun Life’s “compassion and commitment to its clients.”

There was a time in the 1980s when Sun Life considered folding up its operations in the Philippines due to peace and order concerns. Fidel V. Ramos, then the vice chief of the Armed Forces, begged top Sun Life officials from Canada to reconsider.

Ramos made a case for the Philippines, Mantaring said of the military man who would later become president.

Sun Life not only decided to keep its business open, but to grow it, she added.

By 2011, Sun Life has become the leading life insurance company in the country in terms of premiums totaling P29.7 billion as of 2013. It has also rolled out a financial literacy campaign which it calls “It’s Time,” as part of an effort to empower Filipinos to prepare for their financial future. This campaign has reaped local and international awards.

“Our longevity speaks volumes about how we have been able to remain devoted to our goals, which is to help Filipinos achieve a brighter life. This is a milestone that would not have been possible without one crucial component: Relationships,” Mantaring said.

Sun Life’s relationship with the Filipino people, she said, is important to the company. It continues to nurture this relationship, which has stood the test of time, allowing the company to create a legacy that can be enjoyed by future generations.

“Much like what our products espouse, we believe in the importance of planting seeds for the future, and ensuring that everything is in place for a brighter future.  Because that is our vision for our beloved country: A brighter Philippines—one that enjoys a healthy economy, and one wherein citizens thrive in every aspect of their lives,” she said.

At the start of the new millennium, Sun Life diversified its business lines to add mutual funds and pre-need to its roster of products. In recent years, it also expanded its geographical footprint to cover more cities and beefed up its manpower across the country.

Giving back

While growing its business, Sun Life strengthened efforts to help in the development and growth of communities through Sun Life Financial—Philippines Foundation. Since its incorporation in 2009, the foundation has focused on four areas: Healthcare, culture/education, environment and disaster recovery. When Supertyphoon “Yolanda” ravaged Eastern Visayas, the company was among the first to respond, extending financial assistance worth over P15 million, which it channeled to various organizations.

Through this foundation, Sun Life also seeks to continue its “Project 120,” a community development program, under which 120 classrooms will be built and 120 fishing boats donated to residents of areas devastated by Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake.

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“Sun Life’s passion and commitment to serve the Filipinos burns just as strong as it did, when our forefathers first set foot in the Philippines,” Mantaring said. “We aim to be the best we can be as the country’s ally in nation-building, and as every Filipino’s partner in securing a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones.”

TAGS: BGC, Sun Life

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