Four ways to show love of one’s country

You don’t have to march on the streets to show your love of country,” I told students whose parents did not allow them to join political protests years ago.

“But our country needs skilled, motivated, resilient citizens to contribute in various ways. So instead of grouching about how difficult your subjects are, prioritize your learning and minimize addictive activities. Instead of taking easy-A courses, challenge yourself to learn beyond your comfort zone. Instead of being impatient with peers who may not share your strengths, exercise kindness and help them grow. These small things are not easy to do consistently, but they matter more than you may know.”

The above came to mind when my friend T, the second-generation head of their manufacturing enterprise, said they had long wanted to do CSR.

READ: Love our country

“We want to give back to the country,” said T. “We wanted to establish an education foundation in honor of our late father. We even identified an office, earmarked funds, and hired personnel. But inflation is hurting our business. We cannot afford CSR now.”

“You don’t have to do CSR to show your love of country,” I told T, and gave him suggestions on small but significant things businesses can do.

Treat employees well

Love for one’s country means love for its people. Rather than grandstanding with CSR, remember that charity begins at home, and treat your workers decently.

Provide fair wages and when possible, go beyond benefits mandated by law (for instance, enroll them in private health-care plans). Provide training so employees can enhance their skills and advance in the organization.

Take employee well-being seriously and provide concrete ways of enhancing this. For example, I worked with T to structure well-thought-out policies for employees to do hybrid work or to work from home.

A few months of practicing these policies did wonders for mental and physical health and saved the business the unnecessary expense of ostensible team-building in a resort, where everyone was forced to spend most of their time cooped up in the conference room.

Even if they could not yet set up a public education arm, I helped T set up a school fund that employees who reach a certain performance level can avail themselves of for their children. Full or partial financial aid is given to recipients as long as they maintain a certain academic average.

Promote local products and services

Utilize (the term “patronize” is condescending) Filipino-made products and services. Gone are the days when imports were of better quality, today we gravitate to cheap products with planned obsolescence. Many local goods are beautifully crafted, such as foods, artworks, and designs.

In terms of materials for their business, T complained that local stuff often costs more than imports, but I pointed out that Filipino products and services provide livelihood to our people.

Moreover, manufacturing is the backbone of industrialized nations, something our service-oriented country is deficient at. Promoting and using local ware boosts creation and production, however small. Unless the cost difference is financially untenable, prioritize local.

Preserve the environment

In the face of climate change and its attendant hazards, how can sustainability be enhanced? Think in terms of materials, production, retail, transport, and waste.

In the workplace, provide natural ventilation or use ceiling fans, and refrain from turning air conditioners to below 25 degrees Celsius (studies show this is an optimal temperature for work). Encourage workers to take the stairs for short flights.

Keep vehicles in good condition to minimize pollution and breakdowns that cause accidents. I helped T institute a car-pool system for interested employees, with staggered work hours—aside from decreasing their commuting stress, this improved their well-being.

Pay correct taxes

“Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Jesus said. No ifs or buts.