The best boss I never had
Commentary

The best boss I never had

Last May 17, Meneleo Carlos Jr., the best boss I never had, joined his Creator at the age of 95. Aside from impressive leadership and management skills, he was outstanding in his vision and how he walked his talk.

In [email protected] on May 19, it was reported: “Mr. Carlos had stated that his dream has always been to help the development of the country and its people.” In the 37 years I have known Carlos, he has been very consistent in his hard work and admirable effort to fulfill this dream.

He gave special attention to those who had less in life. In a message to the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), which has 82 corporate and 30 industry association members nationwide, he wrote: “Business must go to the countryside to address the demand for more drastic changes towards a more immediate inclusive growth … to create value and more jobs.”

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Known leader

Carlos is widely respected as an industry icon. He was a businessman known for his stewardship of the pioneering Philippine chemical conglomerate Resins Inc. He had top positions and key roles in various organizations such as FPI, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Bishop-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development.

FEATURED STORIES

When I was a Department of Trade and Industry undersecretary, I witnessed how Carlos catalyzed a group of eight prominent business leaders who helped the Board of Investments increase investments from P3 billion to more than P300 billion in the first three years of Corazon Aquino’s presidency.

Carlos stepped out of his comfort zone by tackling deforestation and poverty in the countryside. He established the Resins subsidiary Claveria Tree Nursery Inc. (CTNI: 0917-8238812). Its objective is “to promote the use of fast-growing clone trees to spur wood production, help alleviate poverty, and contribute to mitigating climate change.”

CTNI specializes in fast-growing seedlings, cloned from superior mother trees, started in 2006. It guards against tree farmers being deceived by wrong seedlings.

But why choose forestation? Last March 21, the Climate Change Commission reported: “Forests provide biological functions and offer fundamental resources for thriving, including food, clothing and shelter. However, decades of unsustainable activities have degraded forests worldwide.”

Forestation

The 2022 Philippine Forestry Situationer reports that our total forest cover is now only 7.2 million hectares (ha), or 24% of our country’s land cover. This is dangerously below the 1934 level of 17.8 million ha.

Coming from business, Carlos argued that forestation can be bankable, and thus, sustainable.

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At one point, he said that with a financing scheme at P150,000 per year totaling P1.8 million, “a farmer is provided with necessary growing materials and also earns a minimum wage from the start. He will then be able to plant one hectare every year. After 12 years, he will be able to repay the loan fully from a yearly harvest of 360 cubic meters at P3,500. This will earn the farmer P1.26 million every year, thus making him financially independent thereafter.”

Though these numbers should be updated, they show the business sense Carlos brings to forestation.

For the 7 million ha where 25 million dwellers earn their livelihood through “slash and burn,” Carlos wants these dwellers to become tree farmers, “each one a forest steward with tenured rights to the land he develops, thus giving him the incentive to protect what he has planted.”

Carlos also made improvements in product offerings. CTNI created PolyCon boards which combine marine plywood and concrete. These are good for maintenance-free housing—waterproof, termite-proof and fireproof. Durable and affordable low-cost houses or apartment units can be built using PolyCon with a cost easily amortized in 15 years.

Carlos continuously cited the importance of working with the basic sectors of farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous people, labor, and the poor. He emphasized the necessity of active local government unit involvement in these endeavors.

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With his vision, management skills, and most importantly, his very consistent contribution to the nation through forestation and other initiatives, Carlos is a boss to remember. We must continue his legacy to achieve our national and agricultural development.

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