Keynote speech of Nene Pimentel at the TOPLEAP awards on January 20, 2012 at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City


                 This talk is simply a statement of thanks.

 First, to President Conrad Dieza and the officers and members of the Rotary Club of Cubao East; the officers and members of the JCI Caloocan Senate and the officers and members of the Countrywide Technology Development Foundation, Incorporated, and, to my friend Bro. Joe Villanueva, for kindly inviting me to speak at this rather unique program tonight.

 Bright Stars

 Without their generous invitation, I would not be here tonight to savor this moment with your distinguished awardees who are like stars that brighten even a moonless night in a climate-change stricken country like ours.

          Let me say immediately that one of the things that I abhor in life is to publicly glorify people who have not earned the accolade or praise.

 Happily, the awardees as cited minutes ago truly deserve the awards that were bestowed on them. May I, therefore, request all of us here present to give them our collective applause.


 What makes the ceremonies we have tonight unique is the rationale for awards. And that is the genuine spirit of philanthropy that is difficult to come by even in these modern times.

          In 1889, the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie wrote an essay on wealth.

One of the things that struck me in that literary piece was his statement that there was a need for the 'proper administration of wealth' so that 'the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and the poor in harmonious relationship.'


Carnegie added that the wealthy individual must be a 'mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren' and do 'for them better than they could or would do for themselves.'

His ideas on the accumulation and wise use of money were called Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth.

 If I may presume, the 12 awardees - I am tempted to call them the 12 apostles - exemplify the best qualities of possessors of wealth that Carnegie spoke of.

He had distinguished indiscriminate charity from philanthropy. From his point of view, the wise use of money in philanthropy could promote the greater good for the greater number of people.

Using the Carnegie criteria, the organizers of the TOPLEAP awards - not only the recipients - deserve our people's appreciation.

 It is not often that our people are given the chance to say 'thank you' to the philanthropists who are sharing what they have to advance the public welfare as we are doing at this hour.

 We are thanking them for sharing their blessings by:

1. Promoting Excellence in the various fields of endeavor of our people.

 Promoting excellence combats mediocrity. It tells our people that when we do things, it is not enough to say, 'okay na yan'. What we should do is to measure up to the standard of the best we are capable of. 

 Thank you, then, Mr. Ty and the MetroBank Foundation.

2. Mentoring Youth Leadership.

 Mentoring the youth means watching and guiding them as they mature into adulthood. It is an essential function that the Ayala Foundation has undertaken as an integral part of its philanthropic mission. 

 Thank you, Mr. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and your foundation.

 3. Promoting Business.

 From the humble perspective of the many years of my public service, I have come to the conclusion that the most effective way of eradicating poverty or at least mitigating its dehumanizing effect on our people is not through a bloody upheaval but by creating an environment in which business can thrive in the country.

 Briefly, business provides jobs for our people. And when people have jobs, they don't have to behave like beggars queueing before politicians begging for dole outs.

 This award for business - justifies itself.

 Thank you, Mr. Manny Pangilinan.

4. Enhancing NPO activities.

 NPOs have long been considered an indispensable partner of government in promoting the public weal.

 It is but proper that the work of the 'Lead Gift Donor to the Sight First Campaign II, for instance, is cited tonight.

 Thank you, Michael So, for your generosity.

 5. Focusing on the Youth.

 The youth as youth needs the care and support of our people. Whether we like it or not, they will take over this country after our allotted time on earth shall have run its course.

 The winner of this particular award has been addressing the needs of the youth and focusing on youth activities that are productive.

 Thank you, Ms. Marilou V. Galenzoga.

6. Public governance has a well deserved slot in the list of awardees tonight.

 And the choice speaks for itself.

 The mere fact alone that the awardee had the nod of the Senate in the recent past for a similar achievement says a lot for him.

 Thank you, Mayor BenHur Abalos for serving your people well.

7. Enhancing Education

 Education, I submit, is one key to upward mobility in our society.

 It is, thus, appropriately cited in the awards this evening.

 Thank you, Mr. Alex Escano, for your generosity.

 8. Acknowledging Journalism.

 The press, meaning, the print, radio and television media as well as social media are indispensable partners in the modernization and development of our country.

 I commend the organizers for conferring the TOP LEAP award tonight on one of the most actively involved journalists in the social issues of country today.

 His multifarious philanthropic deeds are felt by thousands of the neediest among our people.

 Thank you, my friend, Dan Razon, for your unbounded generosity.

 9. Expanding the meaning of Civil Service

 The awardee tonight for public service captures the essence of public service.

 It means not only going to office and being nice to people.

 From the citation, I gather that the awardee cares for his constituents and that he is transparent and accountable to them for what he does in public office. And if I recall correctly, the Senate had also cited him similarly in the recent past.

 Thank you, Gov. Jeorge Ejercito, for being there in the service of your constituents.

  10. Expanding Community Welfare and Development.

 The awardee in this category has served in innumerable ways the sightless, the youth and the victims of calamities nationwide including the thousands who were directly hit by the fury of typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan recently.

 Thank you, dear LIONS international and your Governor Alex Manguba.

 11. Protecting the Environment.

 The protection of our environment is an inescapable duty for all of us who live in this country.

 Climate change is upon us and Geo-Hazards of all kinds threaten our people all over the Republic.

The Kiwanis Philippines has responded by initiating not only educational seminars on the challenges of climate change but by actually cleaning up the polluted bays of the country, including Manila Bay and selected beaches of Pangasinan.

 Thank you, Kiwanis and your governor for Luzon, Poly Lot.

 12. Specializing on a Sport.

 The awardee on sports, I would guess, received the honors not only because through his philanthropy, he has made football a national sport but also because football is one sport that as a people when properly trained we can excel even in world competitions. You don’t need height to excel in football.

 Thank you, Mr. Dan Palami, for disregarding obstacles on the way towards developing a good national football team.

 I cannot help but add this request that the name of the football team, Azcals, should perhaps be changed to something less pejorative.


In the crab-mentality that severely handicaps people in our society, it is easy to deprecate and the tag the awardees as disciples of the power of money.

 But while the organizations to which the winners of the TOPLEAP awards belong may have pursued the accumulation of money, the thing is that their pursuit of pelf was not for its sake alone.

 As the citations indicate, the accumulation of wealth was not an end by itself but was a means to benefit others.

 Christianity in action

           What they have done is, at least, a manifestation of Christianity, itself, whose main message is to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

I offer the winners my heartfelt congratulations and a prayerful wish that they would continue doing more for the sake of our country and people.

 The organizers also deserve our thanks for conceptualizing such an event as this one which if sustained could really lead to the national transformation of our country.

 Wealth after all can be a boon, not a bane, for our country and people, if utilized wisely not only to promote the lives of leisure and privilege of the already wealthy but to advance the welfare of the greater number of our impoverished brethren.

 For as Bro. Joe Villanueva is wont to stress over and over again in his popular Radio Veritas program, one cannot say he or she loves God whom one does not see but not love and care for one’s less fortunate neighbors whom one meets every day.

 To repeat, our awardees have done what they can for others.

 I hope that the rest of us will follow their example not necessarily peso for peso because not many of us can do that but what we can share with others we should.

 Congratulations to you, all. And thank you for listening.

 God bless and goodnight.