Not to be different, but to make a difference

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“We love our profession. We’re good at it. A great part of our life depends on it. But that’s not the entirety of who we are.

“Our profession – no matter how amazing or critical – is just part of who we are. And outside of that, we are free to fulfill our purpose.

“Our purpose is more than our profession.”

Profound. Philosophical. Borderline religious. Surprising to hear on the 29th floor of a power tower in Makati.


But that’s the word straight from Alexander Cabrera, chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co., PwC Philippines.

And those aren’t empty either.

PwC Philippines is applying itself and its vaunted brain trust to some of the most pressing problems of the Philippines. Call it their corporate social responsibility; to the firm, they’re mining gems.

Having a purpose – to build trust in society and solve important problems – goes beyond the mundane concern of creating differentiation in the marketplace. It’s not about being different; it’s about making a difference.

Gems of values
Methodically, it started out with promoting the gem of Filipino values—the right ones. Years ago, it engaged the country’s most successful leaders and asked them what makes the Filipino resilient. The result is a book, “Philippine Resiliency.” This year, it is following up with a photo story contest where Filipino values are shown in photos taken by high school and college students nationwide.

Gems of tourism
It doesn’t stop with the cerebral, it goes on to the practical: spotting and celebrating Philippine tourism gems. In a process that narrowed down a list of 175, to 50, then 25, until it got to 10 Philippine Gems, PwC “discovered” and shone the spotlight on where tourism and tourists should go to:

• The Calaguas Islands
• Lake Sebu
• Tubbataha
• Caramoan
• Biri Island
• Mount Kanlaon
• Danjugan Islands
• Panglao
• Apo Island
• Batanes

This year, it is focusing particularly on Visayas and Mindanao, to spot—and benefit—VisMin Gems.

In the PwC way of thinking, bringing tourist awareness to these underappreciated gems is 50 percent of the job—and a multiplier effect: if individuals come, their investments and economic activity will follow.

Gems of enterprise for others
Where it comes closest to the PwC’s everyday world, though, is when people in these tourism gems grow businesses—businesses that benefit others. They’ve jumpstarted the process by encouraging and promoting Developmental Social Enterprises. Gems in their own right, some have, in fact, already become veritable enterprises: neckties and shawls are being produced by the T’boli of Lake Sebu; seaweed is being farmed in Biri.

These are the gems of success that help fulfill the purpose of Team PwC—and how they apply themselves to them, is a manifestation of PwC magic at work.

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