This special feature story by Rose Dela Cruz reminds one of SM Founder Henry Sy senior, who, despite his departure last year, remains the most endearing spirit behind SM Foundation’s continuing work for the poor, widows, children and orphans.Rose dela Cruz, Contributor
Giving is deeply ingrained in the family left by SM founder, Henry Sy, Sr. who is celebrating his 95th birthday today. He is known as a tycoon and philanthropist.
Even as the Sy patriarch passed on last January 2019, these wide-ranging acts of kindness live on.
The Sy family has one of the biggest and diverse operating foundations in the country that supports education, through public and private school buildings and scholarships; health and wellness programs for public hospital wards, military and police health facilities, health centers; conducts twice monthly medical missions for the indigent people with quarterly diagnostic missions for its employees nationwide; renovation of churches and seminaries and building of churches in malls and near them; hosting annual Kasalan sa SM for unmarried employees of SM Group who can not afford a grand wedding, and farmers training programs for both rural and urban farming to ensure that the lowly farmer acquire skills that would improve his stature from dirt poor to a farm entrepreneur, someday.
The elementary and high school buildings that SM Foundation donates are fully furnished with armchairs for normal and left-handed students, teachers’ desk sets, blackboards, wall fans, and toilet in each room, emergency-ready facilities, PWD ramps and wall clocks. Called the “SM-Blue” school buildings, these have become benchmarks by the Department of Education for other public school buildings to be put up.
Fondly called “Tatang”, Henry Sy, Sr., believed that education is the great equalizer that would lift the downtrodden from poverty.
With some 4,000 indigent students and out-of-school youth, SM scholarships for college and technical-vocational education have become an inspiration and source of hope for the children to better their lot and employability through education. They are treated to Christmas parties/reunions, free movies and fellowship.
With five mobile clinics that each contains ECG, X-Ray and ultrasound equipment, and laboratory, volunteer doctors get to serve people from all walks of life in many parts of the country. Some patients are able to get minor surgeries, eye check and free eyeglasses from medical outreach. Even SM employees and locators avail of the medical and diagnostic missions every three months at scheduled venues.
The Henry Sy Sr. Foundation and SM Investment Corp. also fund school buildings, most recent turnover was the P300-million grant for the 11-story Medical Arts building of UP Philippine General Hospital. The UP PGH will also match this with funds raised by the UP Medical Alumni Foundation, Inc. The building supports the UP College of Medicine’s thrust in promoting collaborative research on the country’s health challenges, and provide venue for medical students to obtain dual and higher, research-based degrees.
SM Cares, the CSR of the retail group, also runs regular programs for the disabled, autistic, elderly and orphans. It spearheaded the Green bag movement to reduce the use of plastics in its stores.
Banco de Oro Foundation also has programs for relief for calamity victims, school building, medical missions and financial literacy while the Felicidad T. Sy Foundation takes care of the spirituality of SM employees and mall goers through the construction of chapels and churches in malls and within the vicinity. It also focuses on elderly and orphanages. (story by Rose dela Cruz, Correspondent)