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ALL IN THE FAMILY

For the Lims of Sterling Group, sharing never goes out of style

/ 05:16 AM November 18, 2021

(Second of a series)

Affirmations poured in last week in connection with my column, “The Frugality of Sterling Group’s Michelle Lim Gankee,” and the story of Michelle being given no allowance till she was in high school struck a chord with readers.

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One reader shared her own story with Michelle, narrating that it was only in fifth grade that she was given an allowance. When the teacher surveyed how much the class had, she learned that her allowance was the smallest. “The funny part is, I did not feel that anything was missing.”

Another reader said, “relate na relate ako diyan,” and today their family makes practical decisions because they know the value of hard-earned money. Another reader said she also did not give her son money unless he really needed it and “nagbunga nang maganda kasi sobrang tipid niya ngayon.” Still another joked that at least she got five centavos to buy banana cue in first grade, which was eventually raised to 10 centavos for sago’t gulaman.

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My favorite message came from an alumnus of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Engineering, worth quoting at length:

“I always read your articles, and this one struck me in the heart. I am witness to the frugality of Henry Lim Bon Liong and his family, including his siblings. During their 70th anniversary in 2016, Sterling Paper established three professorial chairs in our college, where in 1973 Henry graduated with a mechanical engineering degree, to honor his father Lim Seh Leng, mother Maria Co Chiao Ti Lim, and brother Willy Lim Bon Teck.

“Aside from Henry’s siblings and spouse, his daughter Michelle and her siblings and cousins attended a donor reception at the board room. Merienda fare at UP was not elaborate: turon, slices of apple, bananas, a sandwich, prepared by the university food service.

“What stuck in my mind was that afterwards, when all the others guests had left and the servers had each taken a plate for themselves, Michelle asked the servers if the leftover food could be brought back for their staff and employees.

“The servers gladly assented, and were surprised, saying that this was the first time this had ever happened, and Henry was a taipan! Michelle led the family to collect the remaining food for their people.

“This demonstrates that what the founders inculcated in their children has been handed down to the younger generation. And I am sure, to the next!

“Henry’s love for his alma mater also came in a big way, as most donors would usually just sponsor one professorial chair. This commitment is for many years, not a one-time donation. As Henry agreed with us, sharing blessings never goes out of style!

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“As the Sterling Group celebrates its 75th year now, we hope that the Lim family will continue for generations to come. Michelle’s generation is well-prepared, guaranteeing sustainability.”

Well-prepared, indeed, for values training starting early. Under the guidance of the matriarch, Michelle remembers in her first grade their family packing gift bags for orphans, something that they still do every Christmas.

“We set up an assembly line in our office,” says Michelle. “One person was assigned to one item for the bag: notebook, pen, candies, etc. Christmas songs played in the background. This was a great bonding time for the second and third generations, and the value of generosity was instilled in us at an early age.”

The third generation (Michelle and her siblings and cousins) were also tasked to personally give the gifts to the orphans at Hospicio de San Jose and White Cross.

“It’s a great feeling to see the children’s smiling faces,” Michelle says.

The value of giving from the heart—not for show—was brought home to the young Michelle when once, her grandmother handed a check to a nun.

“Thank you very much!” the nun replied. “May I know your name?”

Michelle recalls, “My Amah (grandmother) answered sweetly with a smile: ‘Mary,’ which was her nickname. As a bystander, I found it amusing because this reminded me of Mama Mary.”

(To be continued)

Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” via Lazada, or the ebook via Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks. Contact the author at [email protected]

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TAGS: All in the Family, Michelle Lim Gankee, Sterling Group
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